The following guest post comes from the talented Jason Alba of JibberJobber.com
If you are like me, you don’t write blog posts to fish for negative comments.
As a blogger I love comments because they stroke my ego – even non-flattering (or neutral) comments are good! It’s like “wow, someone besides my mom reads my blog!”
But negative comments are really hard to deal with. It doesn’t help that most comments on my blog are positive and supportive of what I have to say. “Right on!” “Totally agree!” “Excellent post!” This is good for my ego, but bad to prepare me to handle anything negative.
Or even perceived negative. That would include comments that seem to be negative the first time I read them, but are not really negative.
Recently I wrote a post that offended someone (The 10 Hour Job Search – Seriously). She commented, and I felt her comment was scathing, mean and inappropriate. I took it personally and posted a rebuttal, picking apart her comment line by line. And then I spend the rest of the day feeling horrible, not because of her comment but at the way I reacted.
In light of that, I feel like I can be the poster child for how to NOT respond to negative comments. Indeed, I see this guest post as part of my blogger duty, since I goofed up. So, here are five things to consider when you get a negative comment on your blog (these five points are applicable on email lists, Twitter, etc.):
- Take time to cool off. I’ve read that you should not respond to criticism immediately. Some say you should even wait at least twenty-four hours to respond (hard for a blogger to do, with our “I-want-it-right-now” microwave mentality!). Every time I have responded to something negative right after I read it, I’ve regretted it. Seriously, walk away, do something else, and come back to it tomorrow. Hopefully that will help you put the comment into perspective.
- Just be quiet and let your contacts defend you. If you have readers (if you don’t, skip to step 3), step back and see if they reply. I’ve seen this on my blog, when someone said something negative, about eight people jumped in and defended me. The negative comment was by a new reader, and all of the older readers knew me well enough to know my intentions were good. The support from my community was awesome! I’ve also seen this on email list (i.e., Yahoo Groups). A word of caution, if you slam the blogger (or frequent poster on an elist), consider the reputation you are developing for yourself in that community.
- Ignore the comment, or reply with a very short, non-combative response. Maybe it’s not even worth it to reply. Maybe replying will satisfy the ego of the commenter, if indeed their intention was to yank your chain. Doing nothing is not a bad option at all – although I recognize that as bloggers we have a hard time not responding :p An appropriate short response may be something as simple as “Okay.” Or, “Okay, whatever.” This type of response shows you are not going to get into a debate or argument, and would rather diffuse the issue.
- Clarify the intentions, OFF BLOG. Why not respond to the commenter in an email asking for clarification? Perhaps you can get more details of what they meant to write, and either better understand their comment or realize that they wrote something with a tone they didn’t intend. My executive editor Scott Allen says that online (blogs, email, etc.) we need to “presume good intent,” meaning instead of assuming the worst, let’s start with “maybe they meant to say something else.” No one is perfect, not even the person leaving a comment – they might be horrified to realize how their comment might be misinterpreted!
- Don’t approve, or delete, the comment. On my Jason Alba blog I got a comment from someone I consider to be my cyber-stalker. Not fun, but he’s across the pond in the UK so I’m not worried about physical violence. Nonetheless, his comment was really degrading, and obviously off-topic. I simply haven’t approved it, so it’s not showing on the post he commented on. However, since I’m a blogger, I did respond – I created a post titled How To Deal With An Internet Stalker, and posted his comment there (with a little Twilight humor) – it was a fun post to write, and since I didn’t name him I felt pretty good about it!
What would your advice be? These are the five ideas I came up with – what would you add? Share with us in the comments below. If you leave a negative comment, I promise to eat my own dog food (and probably practice #3 🙂
Jason Alba designed JibberJobber.com to replace his job search spreadsheet. He also wrote I’m on LinkedIn — Now What??? and I’m on Facebook — Now What??? You can follow him on Twitter here: @jasonalba
Photo credit _gee_