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How to Respond to Criticism or Negative Comments

Updated on November 1, 2017
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Audrey's desire to help others understand human behavior led her to study psychology. Here, we learn ways to cope with hurtful words.


Negative Comments Are Rarely Helpful

Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain… and most fools do. ~ Dale Carnegie

Negative comments and criticism are rarely, if ever, helpful. In fact, dark feedback is limiting for most people. It is far better to "teach" than to "judge".

When we are criticized we tend to connect with some previous wound. The more confident we are the less we are affected by negative comments.

Let's examine some alternatives, for dealing with unkind comments.

Don't Take Criticism Personally

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt

Perhaps one of the most helpful of life's lessons that I have learned occurred while reading the book,The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. As I read the chapter entitled Don't Take Anything Personally, I realized that this would be a pivotal moment for me. Especially where criticisim and negativity are concerned.

Now, is this an easy habit to develop? Absolutely not. Especially when you're reading comments about a hub you've just finished. You're emotionally attached to your "baby" and the last thing you want to hear is that your baby is ugly.

Taking things personally can discourage us from moving forward. One of the many reasons I enjoy being a writer for hubpages is the supportive and motivating comments I receive. As I scroll through the different comments offered by readers, I am instantly motivated and energized.

I refuse to give permission to anyone to rain on my parade. Don't take anything personally. Besides, it's not always about you.

How to Handle Negative Comments

Three tips for responding to negative comments:

  1. Wait before you reply.

When you find a negative comment scattered among all the positive, wonderful comments, focus on the good ones. Then, give yourself a minute, and take a few deep breaths before replying ... if you decide to reply.

2. Don't accept criticism.

You do have a choice. Think of a negative comment as a gift - one that you don't have to accept. If you were given a gift of poison, would you accept it? Of course not. Honor your own feelings. You have put time, talent, research and priority into your work. No one has the right to darken your light. Let it shine.

3. Ignore negativity

You are the only one that can give power to inconsiderate, manipulating comments. If you ignore the comment, it vanishes as soon as you replace it with kind and uplifting words. Whatever you are thinking at the moment is all that exsists.

Distinguish Between Feedback and Insults

Is it feedback or is it a down-right insult? Sometimes feedback can be harsh but that doesn't mean it's an insult. And sometimes, it just depends on how we interpret the comment. An insult is a direct attack and usually requires you to simply ignore the person and "consider the source", as my mama used to say.

Don't be manipulated by an attack on your work. However, do not feel the need to defend it either.

Feedback is useful and helpful information. I received an email from a fellow hubber just today that had read my latest hub and found that I had repeated the same paragraph twice. I was relieved and grateful to have her feedback. It provided me with an opportunity to return to my hub and do some editing before too many readers spotted this mistake.

Sometimes we are conditioned, without even realizing it, to thinking that we are right. Time for a quick reality check if this sounds familiar to you.

It's almost a given, that when you publish articles, you will eventually receive a negative comment. And as William Faulkner once said, " The artist doesn’t have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews, the ones who want to write don’t have the time to read reviews."

How do you handle a negative comment?

See results

How To Respond To Criticism

“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing”

Not all criticism is created equally. There can be merit in what's being directed to you. If your self-esteem is "mountain high", as it should be - and we can always work on it - there may just be something that we can take away to help us with our writing skills.

What may appear as a negative, insenitive comment to one person, can be interpreted as helpful and direct to another. One may find a comment offensive while another finds the same comment enlightening. We are all from different backgrounds. Some are taught harsh criticism while others are led through gentle suggestion.

Responding to Criticism or Negative Comments is a learning process. Using humor sometimes works very well and other times it may be best to simply avoid responding altogether.

We, who truly enjoy the art of writing, do so for the love of it. Not much else really matters.

“I have yet to find the man, however exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism.”

Charles Schwab

© 2011 Audrey Hunt


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