Four Ways to Deal with Negative Client Feedback


No matter how talented you are, as an interior designer, you’re bound to come across negative feedback at some point. No one likes to hear bad things about their work, so it’s best to figure out how to deal with bad feedback before you let it ruin your entire mood.

Here are some steps to take after receiving negative feedback:

1. View the situation from their perspective

There are many factors that could’ve contributed to the client’s displeasure. Try to view the situation from their point of view and think, “would I be happy with this outcome?” While you were probably consulting with the client throughout the entire process, things can end up looking different when they come to life. Think back to your early discussions and determine whether the outcome is aligned with their initial vision. Do your best to separate your own desires from theirs. Remember, not everyone has the same taste, and this can sometimes lead to a clashing of opinions. Ultimately, the client will be left with the end result, so you want to make sure they are satisfied.

2. Ask an unbiased person

It’s important to remember that this is not about proving the client wrong. However, for your own peace of mind, it helps to ask a colleague or someone familiar with the industry to give you some unbiased advice. If you’d prefer to ask a friend or family member, you may want to say the work was done by someone else, so they can give you honest feedback without sugar coating their response. Whether good or bad, use the feedback to help you shape a plan to remedy the situation. These experiences will serve as lessons to make you a better designer.

3. Consider external factors

Maybe it has nothing to do with the actual work. As human beings, it is natural to express emotions and sometimes we take them out on people who aren’t even involved in the situation. Interior design takes designers into client’s private spaces and often makes it difficult to separate work from personal life since they seem to overlap. If the client is going through a rough or challenging situation, they might be inclined to take it out on you. Without prying into their personal affairs, do your best to work with the client and reassure them that you are focused on getting the job done accordingly.

4. Work with the client to achieve the desired outcome

At the end of the day, you don’t want to burn any bridges or make enemies. If the situation can be rectified, you should do what it takes to straighten it out. Even if the client never wants to work with you again, you don’t want them bad mouthing you to other potential clients. Be sensitive to their needs and work with them to fix the issue. Remember, sometimes bad experiences can be your best teacher. Use each lesson as an opportunity to improve your skills and you will continue to grow.

While not the most enjoyable part of running your own design business, dealing with negative feedback is a necessity.  Hopefully, these tips will offer guidance the next time the situation arises and will help you quickly resolve those tense moments.

Erin Gilbert