Criticism abounds, no one can avoid it. Learn what criticism can cause for the expansion and marketing of accounting services why it's vital neither accept nor reject it when handling.

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CPA Marketing Newsletter: How to handle criticism

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CPA - Accounting Firm Marketing Newsletter:
How to handle criticism

In this issue, I want to discuss a specific aspect of life that is a thorn in our flesh and the cause of much unhappiness... and, what's more important, the primary reason for a huge LOSS of income for many accounting practitioners and CPAs.

Only the loss is not easy to see as it is "income you could have made but didn't..." so it doesn't show in the books at all.

This cause of misery is.... criticism and, above all, the way we accept it without realising that we do.


CPA Marketing: The illusion of "constructive criticism..."

The commonly held belief regarding criticism is that it is justified in one way or another. We send out a direct mailing letter for marketing our CPA firm and accounting services... and someone responds with negative feedback, explaining how poorly we represent ourself... things like that.

And we ACCEPT that there's SOMETHING amiss with our communication.

In other words, we assume that we've done something WRONG if someone is being critical about us or our CPA services or the way we approach them.

It's the old cliché about "there's no smoke without a fire..."

Only... that's NOT true at all.

It's not true that criticism is the proof of something wrong about YOU... but it may well prove it about the person who criticizes you.

The justification or rationalization of criticism is that it STEMS from (was caused by) something the person being criticized did or left undone.

But factually it only requires that someone decides to find something wrong with you or your accounting services or the way you choose to present your CPA firm or market it... and then discards any evidence to the contrary.

They take every little imperfection and blow it up all out of proportion while ignoring all your good deeds and abilities completely.

This illusion of "no smoke without fire" makes criticism supposedly legitimate and justified.

In reality, criticism is based on a negative intention and its motive is destructive UNLESS the other person knows how it should be done better AND is willing to SHOW you how... and also take some responsibility over doing it so that it produces BETTER RESULTS.

But 99 times out of 100, criticism concentrates on telling us we should NOT DO SOMETHING AT ALL.

See. Criticism does not require ANY knowledge of that which a person criticises.

It only requires attacking you so you shut up, stop marketing your CPA firm, quit trying to help people with your accounting services and financial planning... you get the idea.

But much more important than the nature of criticism is how we react to it.


Criticism can chop down your CPA firm marketing... but only if you let it

The nature of criticism is such that it enforces us to react to it in one of two ways.

(In actual fact this is not true because there's a third way of handling criticism but we'll get to that later.)

The (seemingly) only two ways to respond to criticism are these:

You can either accept or reject it.

If you accept it then you will automatically restrain yourself from that activity, be the accountancy marketing, delivery of financial consulting or charging a fair sum for your CPA services.

More often than not we get criticised for promoting our accounting services OR delivering those services OR asking the client to pay the agreed-upon fee for CPA services delivered.

Accept the criticism and you will begin to feel a bit HESITANT about selling or delivering your accounting services or collecting fees for CPA services rendered.

That's human nature.

You accept you did something bad so that will make you careful about that activity in future. And with all the criticism washing about in the commercial world and media, there's going to be lot of it... and you'll grind yourself to a standstill sooner or later.

Not a good alternative, is it now?

The second option is to reject the criticism. This appears to be the correct thing but it's actually worse than accepting it.

This is so because by rejecting someone's criticism regarding our accounting services or the marketing or sales of our financial knowhow, we do so emotionally... and something amazing takes place.

What we reject with strong emotion we actually ACCEPT. The stronger our emotional reaction to it, the more forcefully we reject it... the more we actually BELIEVE it to be factual and justified!

The strength of our emotion in rejecting kind of makes it "stick" but in a topsy-turvy way, which is WORSE than accepting the criticism.

Now, there's a third way of handling criticism and that's this:

1. Notice that it IS criticism and that the person's intention is at least partially NEGATIVE, meaning he is probably looking solely for negative things.
2. Tell him you understand what he is saying and that you're sorry this ha upset it. Just say those words without actually rejecting or accepting GUILT for the complaint.
3. Tell him you'll look into it and then do, trying to find out what caused it and evaluating whether or not you want to do a public relations gesture toward him.

In other words, you don't take an emotional stand on the issue at all. You see he is upset and you can just say you're sorry that this matter has upset him.

That's not untrue either. I'm sure you'd much rather he wasn't upset at you, right? So it's a bit play with words which can mean two things, depending on which angle you look at it.

Say it nicely. And say you'll look into it, so he feels you're going to do something about it.

Then see if there's SOMETHING within his message that you can use to improve your services or activities.

You'll find that most parts (of most) criticism are exaggerated (borderline invented) negative points... but sometimes there may be something you can do to avoid criticism in future.

See if there's anything there and do something about it... IF YOU WANT to do something about it. If not then don't.

But most importantly... neither accept nor reject the criticism. Instead, simply notice that the person is being critical and let him speak without arguing with him.

Every single person has critical thoughts. One cannot judge anyone because of criticism. We all do it in some way or another, albeit some a lot more than others.

I'm not criticizing criticism per se or anyone's right to speak out.

But I am strongly opposed to the illusion that goes with it... this illusion that presupposes criticism comes about due to some "justifiable cause."

That's because it is this belief that makes US STOP OURSELVES.


CPA Marketing: How criticism can stop everything eventually

Criticism can make you stop marketing your CPA firm, stop trying to find new accounting clients, stop collecting fees owed, stop raising your hourly rates, stop developing your accounting services...

...STOP just about anything and everything in your practice eventually!

As long as you BELIEVE criticism has justification, you also believe that you've done something awfully hurtful by reaching out for new CPA clients, communicating to your target group OR delivering your accounting services.

Once you believe you've done something bad you will then
automatically restrain yourself from doing it... and that's the beginning of the losing of heart for any accounting professional.

And it's your MARKETING that goes first because that's your broadcasting channel to the world for telling everyone about your excellent accounting services and your financial knowhow.

Now, I'm not saying we don't make mistakes. Everyone who does anything will. But I am saying that those who jump at our smallest mistakes and blow these all out of proportion do NOT have our best interest at heart.

You should simply UNDERSTAND criticism. The other guy feels bad. He may have some huge problem in his life so he is upset.

Or maybe HE gets criticized a lot. Or perhaps he works very hard without any acknowledgment from anyone. It could be anything.

That's all. It's not something YOU did. HE is in charge of HIS emotions.

My experience with critical people is that they're usually least experienced in the subject matter they criticize me about...

...OR they're upset because my message is that something can be DONE about it.

You can actually test yourself if you've overbought
criticism, simply by asking yourself this one question:

When faced with criticism, do you feel a need to justify your actions and/or make up for your "mistake" toward the critical person?

Isn't it amazing how we concentrate on trying to please the CRITICAL people — the guys who really cannot be pleased by anyone or anything?

Do yourself a favour and just don't try to please those who criticize.

Criticism has been around for a long while and by now it's in our blood. Most every person criticises something once in a while. It's been part and parcel of our life so long that what goes around comes around.

But if you can remain outside the "guilt" involved in criticism, if you can neither accept nor reject it, I guarantee YOU will feel better about yourself AND your accounting practice will flourish and prosper more!

Keep up the good work,

Best wishes,

Harry Kafka
HDK Consultants U.S.A. Inc.
PMB 211, 411 Cleveland
Clearwater, FL 33755
Phone (727) 474 1206
Calls from outside USA: +1 727 474 1206

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HDK Consultants USA Inc.
HDK Consultants U.S.A. Inc.
PMB 211
411 Cleveland
FL 33755
Phone (727) 474 1206
Calls from outside USA:
+1 727 474 1206

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