In this business you can’t afford to be too sensitive. When you are putting yourself out there some things come with the territory. Whatever the product that you’ve put out–a blog, a book, software, a CD–if there’s a way for people to rate it, or comment about it, you should be prepared for those people who derive pleasure from trying to hurt the feelings of others. In a perfect world all people abide by the “if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all” principle; but this is not a perfect world. In this world, people who don’t have anything nice to say usually want the world to know the not so nice things they think and feel, and given the opportunity, they will exercise their right to do just that.
It can be hard not to take insulting words personally. When we feel someone is unjustly maligning us or otherwise injuring our image or reputation we naturally want to defend ourselves, but sometimes the best way to deal with negative feedback is not to respond to it in kind. What that means is that you sometimes have to smile and say “thank you for sharing your thoughts” to someone who obviously was not trying to be helpful in sharing their thoughts. More often than not responding to intentionally malicious comments ends with you doing more harm to your reputation than the negative feedback that spurred your response to begin with.
How you represent yourself when being taunted is important. You don’t want to engage in a nasty war of words with people who leave insulting comments on your blog or who rate or review your product or service poorly just because they have that power. If you are trying to project a professional image perhaps the best thing you can do is simply delete obviously inflammatory comments, assuming the comments are left on your own site. Sometimes negative comments about you, your product, your service, your business are left in places where you have no control over deleting them. In that case you have to make a decision about whether or not it’s worth it to address the comments on your own site or sign up on the site where the comments are left and publicly defend your reputation. It is usually a better option simply to ignore the comments, especially if they are unfounded. If your product or service is good that will do more to establish your reputation than the rude comment of an angry individual who did not like the product or was not satisfied with the service. Most people are reasonable enough to be satisfied with a 99% favorable rating and not be too concerned with that 1% negative feedback.
Some people don’t like to delete negative comments because they are afraid they’ll be accused of only approving comments that make them look good, but this is not a question of deleting constructive feedback. It’s the destructive feedback that’s in question. Of course, what’s destructive will vary from person to person and depend largely on how sensitive your ego is or is not. You need to have some willingness to accept constructive feedback even if it sounds like criticism. After all, your readers or customers deserve to have their thoughts considered and respected. They add value to your life every bit as much as you add to theirs and you should want to know and be willing to hear if they think you have made a mistake or otherwise fallen short; but at the end of the day, you still have the power, on your own website at least, to delete comments that are outright mean and pointless and that do not add value to anyone’s life, but rather only give a dark feeling of satisfaction to the person who posted the comment.
Not everyone is going to have something good to say. Not everyone is going to love you, love your blog, love your product, love your service. You have to expect negative feedback and accept it as par for the course. You shouldn’t take it personally and launch a counter-attack.
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