I’ve been training women to run successful virtual-based businesses from their homes for nearly 20 years.
This experience has not only made me a seasoned trainer but also has shown me a thing or two about human behavior and the driving emotions behind them. Not to mention how both (behavior and emotions) can impact business for better or worse.
The most prevalent thing I see is a lack of confidence or low self-worth. When women have those feelings, those feelings lend themselves to certain behaviors that just aren’t good for their businesses … or for their lives.
It may seem that someone unable to accept criticism is confident in their work and that’s what is causing them to be so upset about the feedback they’ve received. On the contrary.
Those who are unable to accept any and all criticism are those who are secretly beating themselves up for having “gotten it wrong” and not wanting to “admit defeat.”
Confident people know that even when they make mistakes, don’t produce perfect results, or miss meeting the expectations of clients it doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy, aren’t good enough or aren’t cut out for success.
Confident people can accept feedback from a client without feelings of shame or embarrassment, respond in a way that their client feels their feedback was heard and considered, and then try again.
If, however, that client provides feedback and it’s ignored, dismissed, or criticized in return, it can sour the working relationship or end it altogether.
Constantly being on the defense can be connected to the inability to take criticism. It can also be its own separate behavior. If someone is in disagreement with another, and that person gets defensive, this isn’t because they’re confident in their own beliefs, ideas, and opinions.
They are actually very doubtful of their own thoughts and feelings, which is why they have to defend themselves against the person who might be so confident as to disagree.
Confident people can respect the difference in opinion of another without having to toss on the gloves “and take it outside.”
If the business owner, such as a VA, gets defensive every time their client tries to have open communication about the different ways of approaching a problem, the client may feel they don’t have a say or they have to walk on eggshells. Either may result in ending the working relationship, including not giving a very good review.
When people avoid taking responsibility for their actions - missed deadlines, lots of errors, lack of effort - this is another sign that the person isn’t confident in themselves or in their work.
A confident person would have stepped forward to own and accept their shortcomings and work to correct them. They would know mistakes are okay, and everyone has bad days.
Again, failure to meet an expectation on an assignment isn’t attached to your self-esteem or worth, so if/when someone shies away from their own accountability, this is probably a sign.
They can’t withstand facing their own errors because they lack confidence in their own abilities and have attached too much of themselves to what they do. A client simply isn’t going to tolerate someone who doesn’t hold themselves accountable for their own mistakes or errors.
When someone overpowers or continuously derails a conversation with I/ME narratives (“This one time I…”; “Let me tell you about something that happened to me...”; “Well I would…”) that only loosely connect to the topic, this isn’t a person who is full of themselves. Which is, what you might be thinking as you listen and try to control your eye rolls.
This is actually someone searching for others to tell them how wonderful, smart, or brave they are because they don’t know how to tell themselves these things or when they do, they don’t believe them. They need external validation from others.
If the service provider is constantly looking for positive feedback and validation from their client, the client may feel reluctant to ever provide negative feedback for fear of hurting their feelings. Or, the client may become exhausted by having to constantly provide compliments.
The provider needs to know that what they offer is quality service and output regardless of what their client says. (Though admittedly, we all want to receive a compliment and positive feedback every now and then.)
We all know at least one person who makes everything seem like the world is coming to an end, something horrible is happening to them, and there isn’t a thing they can do to stop it or anything they did to contribute to it.
It may sound like, “I don't know why I always get such horrible clients” or “I’m doing everything right and they just don’t appreciate me” or “I can't believe that this stuff keeps happening to me”. You may think you hear a small violin playing in the background.
When people regale us with their tales of “woe is me” it’s because they need people to respond in a way that suggests they aren’t the problem - even if they are in some minor way contributing to it. If these people were confident, they wouldn’t need to play the role of the damsel needing to be rescued by kind remarks.
They could look at their situation and own some part of it and change some part of it to receive alternate (and better) outcomes. A service provider that constantly says, “I just can’t ever get this right,” is not going to invoke a lot of sympathy from their client after the first couple of times.
They’ll eventually see this provider as someone who isn’t confident in their own services and will likely seek the services of someone else.
Confidence is key.
Simply put, when we lack confidence in ourselves, it shows up in how we interact with our clients, how we approach our work, and the quality of what we produce.
When you’re offering professional services and working individually with clients, all three of these things are critical to the success of the working relationship and therefore your business.
We must be able to accept criticism, openly disagree without defensiveness, hold ourselves accountable, validate our own needs, and work towards our own alternative outcomes and narratives.
We must be confident for our businesses to be successful. Confidence is key.
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