Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about bullying. Most prominently was the news story about the football coach who suspended his entire team because they were cyber-bullying another student. Even my own kids were learning about bullying and making pledges to not bully at school. It got me thinking about some of the negative comments I’ve received to blog posts and videos I have posted.
Anytime you put yourself out there, it seems someone feels they can bash you. For me, this is really hard! I was raised to always look for the positive and if I didn’t have anything nice to say, to not say anything at all. Didn’t these people have parents that taught them the same?
The first time I got a nasty comment, I wanted to cry. Then I got really angry. How could that person write that about me? They don’t even know me!
When I put something out there, I’m not trying to offend anyone, just challenge them to question their assumptions or reach for something greater. Then some jerk comes along and spews mean and nasty all over it!
After mulling over this for some time, here’s how I’ve decided to handle these situations, because I know it will happen again. (While I’m an optimistic person, I’m not that naïve.)
1. Is the comment constructive? I fully recognize that I am not perfect, nor do I know everything. So when I get any comment, I first ask if there is any truth in what they’ve said. There may be another position I didn’t consider and should. Sometimes the negative comment is mean to be constructive and help me be a better consultant. I always want to strive to get better at my craft because I want to deliver the best possible service to my clients. Actually, I’ve gotten lots of great feedback and suggestions on our firm’s evaluation forms that have made our courses even better. These types of comments I welcome.
2. Is the comment negative? Sometimes, the comment is not meant to help you get better; it’s just a negative comment. The person didn’t like what you said, your idea, or your product/service. That’s fine, I’ve realize that not everyone is going to love me or what I have to say. In fact, if I only have great reviews or feedback I worry that maybe I didn’t push/challenge my audience enough or they weren’t really engaged. When I see negative comments, I remind myself of the quote from Winston Churchill “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” These quotes I don’t let bother me.
3. Is the comment just down-right nasty? There will be times when the comments you receive are just unapologetically mean, nasty, and hateful. These are individuals who are not critiquing your work, but are attacking you personally. Quite honestly, these comments are the ones that I personally struggle with the most. Generally, I have pretty thick skin, but when I open an email alert about a new comment and get a full-on assault, it does cause me to step back for a moment. (Fortunately, most of the feedback I get fits into the other two categories.) Here is how I’ve decide to handle them – I simply delete them. If I mull over the ugliness of the comment, all I’m doing is allowing that person to affect me emotional and take up precious time and space in my mind. Responding is simply going to invite more hatefulness from them and I have more productive things to do with people who really do want to learn and engage in meaningful conversations. I realize that may not be the path everyone chooses, but for me to stay focused and protect myself, it’s how I handle these types of comments. Then I remind myself what Zig Ziglar said, “Don’t be distracted by criticism. Remember, the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you.”
How have you chosen to handle negative comments?