Rarely do we give anything but compliments when invited into someone’s home—right? After all, it seems awfully rude to enter a new space and immediately start to critique design choices.
And yet, it’s an all too common experience for many homeowners and agents when showing their house to prospective buyers. Elle Decor spoke to Sheila Heen, author of Thanks for the Feedback, about strategies for dealing with constructive or even negative comments about your home.
1. Know what to listen for. There are three different kinds of feedback: appreciation, coaching, and evaluation. Keep that in mind and approach every conversation knowing that all three can yield helpful information.
2. Know your own standards. “People have really different criteria by which they’re making choices about decor and cleanliness,” says Sheila. “And it differs at different times of our lives.” Your choices may simply reflect your lifestyle.
3. Look for the good. Rather than take offense, imagine that the intention of the feedback is to make your life easier or more enjoyable.
4. But don’t be a doormat. If your agent, designer, or family member is constantly rearranging your home, Sheila suggests saying something like: “I appreciate your help and one unintended result is that I find myself constantly searching for things. If you don’t know where something goes, please feel free to leave it on the counter.”
5. Before you speak, consider the consequences. Be sure to remember that if you cannot accept the feedback in the spirit it was given, you may risk alienating the relationship.
6. Consider the source. Try to separate the feedback from the individual providing it—sometimes a critical statement from a family member stings more than when it’s said by a professional.