By Emily LaDrig

Today I have a tough topic that no one really likes to talk about: CRITICISM.

Ouch! Eek! Criticism is tough and a lot of times our natural reaction is to get super defensive when faced with it, ESPECIALLY as an entrepreneur or business owner.

Because who wants to hear someone’s opinion on your baby, your pride and joy, the thing you work day in and out to make happen? Uh, NO ONE.

But one very savvy entrepreneur that you may know- Jeff Bezos, otherwise known as the genius behind everyone’s favorite Prime shipper Amazon - has a really insightful 3-step framework he uses when it comes to facing criticism.

The framework isn’t long. In fact, it’s short and simple.

The Jeff Bezos 3-Step Criticism Framework is essentially: Listen, Ask, Change.

You listen to the criticism you receive, ask whether the criticism is right, and then change your approach (if needed).

startup business team on meeting in modern bright office interior brainstorming, working on laptop and tablet computerThere’s a great story about Jeff Bezos and an early experience he had with criticism that demonstrates this method perfectly:

Back in 1995, when Amazon was still a bookstore, Bezos started experimenting with customer reviews. After some time, he received a letter from a book publisher telling him that Amazon had misunderstood the retail industry. The platform shouldn't display negative customer reviews, because it would result in fewer sales.

After thinking about the advice, Bezos felt that the publisher had misunderstood what Amazon was trying to do. The goal was not to make money through selling things, but to make money by helping people make purchase decisions. He decided not to pull the negative customer reviews, and that obviously turned out to be the right choice.

So once again, those three steps to dealing with criticism are:

STEP 1: Listen to the criticism you receive

This is simple but so difficult, because pretty much no one WANTS to hear criticism. Yet when you approach it openly and take it in, it can help make you and your business stronger.

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STEP 2: Ask whether the criticism is right

With the early Jeff Bezos story, the criticism was not right. But maybe you have a customer that submits a review with something that’s actually quite insightful, or a friend comments that your website looks dated. They could be right!

STEP 3: Change your approach, if needed

Again, in order to decide on whether or not to change your approach, you have to listen and ask if the criticism is right. Even staying your course will give you a personal boost. Because you will have analyzed the criticism instead of just dismissing it.

So there you go! The Jeff Bezos 3-Step Framework to Criticism.

May you use it and move forward with creating your own world-dominating juggernaut!


Emily LaDrig is the Chief Execution Officer at Excelerate America, the fun, smart service for small businesses. Do you have some tips for dealing with criticism? Share them with Emily at

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