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Turn a Negative Comment into Something Positive

Updated on October 31, 2012
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I think its safe to say that everyone likes to be complimented. It makes us feel good. You would be hard pressed to find someone complaining or stressed out over a nice thing someone said. We like to feel good. And the oppostite is true. We do not like to feel bad. When people say bad things about us or about something we did, it can make us feel bad. Then often comes stress and obsessing. Then we just feel worse. Why is it that so many people give so much power to mean people and their negative comments? Without even realizing it, I have learned how to take the power away from the negative and to turn it into something positive - a experience of learning and personal growth.

Parts of A Negative Comment

What is so negative anyway?

Consider every comment to have three parts. What was said. Who said it. Why they said it. These three parts each have a role in dictating how the comment makes you feel. Generally this is somewhere along the spectrum of mildly annoyed to downright devastated. By understanding these three parts, and their effect on you, you can take control and turn things into something positive.

What was said

Quite simply, the thing that was said. The name you were called. The harsh opinion that was flung at you. Thnk about exactly what was said. Is there truth to it? Or is it so far off the wall that only a fool would give it a second though? A obsurd exaggeration is a lot easier to shrug off than soemthing that hits a little closer to home. If you find some truth to the comment, if it oints to something about yourself that you don't like, it might have more sting to it. We don't like to be reminded of our faults. Especially if they are ones we are trying to hide or are having a hrad time addressing.

If only increasing happiness could be done by collecting kitties!
If only increasing happiness could be done by collecting kitties! | Source

Who Said it

Was it a complete stranger? Co-worker? Family member? Best friend? This can make a huge difference in how you perceive what was said. We can inject intention into the comment based on who said it. You might feel differently about something said by a coworker competing with you for a promotion than you would from another coworker. You might think things like: "They are only saying that because they are jealous" or "They want me to fail", when it might have been a perfectly legitimate comment.

We also attach importance to the comment based on who said it. Something said by someone that really knows you can be harder to ignore than the comment of a stranger. You might brush off stranger's mean remark by simply recognizing that they don't know you and you will never see them again. When a person that really knows you, and generally likes you, says something mean or critical, it can set off all kinds of little red flags. Are they mad? Why do they think that? Don't they know me better? How do I fix it?

Why they said it

Don't confuse this with why you think they said it (as described above). Take the focus away from you and your hurt feelings or wounded ego. Step back and take an objective look at the situation. Focus on what you know. Did you actually do something wrong? Did they hear something from someone else? Did you challenge their beliefs? Are they going through something difficult? Consider their mood when they said it. Were they upset? Angry? Tired? All of these things could help you decide if you should even give a second thought to the comment.

A person that is angry and stressed might be taking it out on you simply because you are the one in front of them. If your girlfriend is already upset over something else, the smallest mist-step on your part might send her world crashing down, and her tongue lashing out.

You might not know why the person said what they did. You should consider that too. Just like a stranger does not know you, you do not know them. There could be something going on that you don't know about and they happened to take it out on you.

One + One + One = A Better You

What was said, who said it, and why they said it all combine to determine how you feel. They also will help you decide what to do about it

When to let it go

Strangers and comments from out of the blue

If an angry customer starts calling you stupid after becoming frustrated over something else, odds are they would have said that to anyone. You know are not stupid. You know you didn't do anything wrong. You were simply caught in the cross-hairs. These are the easiest comments to deal with. A false statement, by a stranger, misdirected at you. You might get that knee jerk reflex when you want to fight back, or run and hide. Just ignore it. Don't even justify it with a response. Brush it off, remind yourself how wonderful you are, and be proud that you did not stoop to their level.

When to address it

They have a point

If there is some truth hidden behind that nasty remark, it could do you good to address it. Don't just brush it off. You might not be a bitch,but perhaps you did come off sounding rude or insensitive without intending to. Think about that. Do you have a tendency to do that? Use it as a learning opportunity. Be more conscious of your tone. As they say, you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. You would be amazed at how many opportunities for self-improvement arise when you realize that the reason you are so miffed by what someone said to you is that they pointed out something you don't like about yourself.


It impacts a relationship

If the remark was said by someone close to you, you might want to address it for the sake of the relationship. Take this as an opportunity to be a better friend, or daughter, or husband. Don't shrug it off as a case of pms, or them being a sore loser, or over reacting. Unless of course you know that's all it was. You know this person. If something doesn't sit right with you, if they really hurt you, or have you confused, talk to them. Talk. Don't argue. Don't be defensive. Just ask them why they said what they did. Explain yourself. You might straighten the whole thing out and you will both feel better. Or you might just agree to disagree. Either way it will not fester until either it is forgotten about, or ends up causing a real problem.

When to learn and grow

Always

Enough said. Every interaction you have with someone gives you the opportunity to learn and grow, to stoop to some low, or to waste the moment by staying the same. Personally, I prefer the first option.

How I turned a very hurtful remark into a time for personal growth

A friend once called me selfish and two-faced and a few other nasty things in a very mean way. It really hurt. I am not a selfish person. He of all people should know that. I felt betrayed. I thought about what I did. It was selfish. I put myself before our friendship. That is not something I like to do. I think having to do it hurt me almost as much as it hurt him. I thought about what he was going through at the time and I understood why he felt like he did. Then I talked to him about it. I admitted that what I did was selfish. But not because I wanted to be. And not because I was being mean to him or two-faced. It was one of those times where I had to put my health and my financial situation before my loyalty to him as a friend. And he understood. I am glad I addressed it. It would have eaten away at me otherwise and I could have lost a friend. I am proud of myself for addressing it directly. I used to be one of those people that does anything to avoid conflict. I used this as an opportunity to act otherwise and to grow as a person, and as a friend.

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    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      Cantuhearmescream - thank you for the awesome comment. I am glad you really connected with this and understand what I am saying. every now and then I catch myself using these strategies and sharing them with friends that are stressingout over a negative encounter. it really does help....

      so sorry to be responding so late. I was off hubpages for a few months.

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      DanaTeresa,

      Gee, I wish I'd have come over here a long time ago! This is excellent! I love your message and it is so important. It's so easy in this all-too-often-ugly, world we're living in, to be hard on ourselves and compromise our self-esteems. I know my self-esteem has taken quite a beating and much of it did not hit until I entered adulthood. Now, I try so hard to help build my childrens' self-esteem because I know the damage that can be done. But this is fitting for everyone, every sex, every age! I particularly like how you said try to think about why they said it, not why you 'think' they said it. That is an excellent point. A lot of negativity is thrown around to deflect off of the offender and its often times a result of their own issues or insecurities and we should be careful not to turn them into our own. I love this hub, the message and sharing!

      Voted up and several other pretty blue buttons :D

      Cat

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      fitmag - thank you. I am glad you appreciated this. I have really been making the effort to be more positive over the past few years, and my life is better for it!

    • fitmag profile image

      fitmag 4 years ago

      I liked the article a lot. You wrote some very interesting and true things. It has my vote!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      Winterfate - I do love that cat picture. I am a huge fan of cats... Thanks for the votes and share... Wishing you a positively happy future.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      HLPhoenix - Thank you so much for your thoughts on this. I see you know how awful it can be to let negative comments get to you. I see so many people like that and my wish for them is that they realize that they have the power to change that.... What wounderfully wise words from your mother. Sounds like a woman I wouldl ike...

      Thanks bunches for the vote and share!

    • Winterfate profile image

      Darrin Perez 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Awesome hub! The cat picture amused me greatly and I like how the hub goes into detail on the subject matter. I could have definitely used something like this when I was younger.

      Then again, I still could.

      Voted up and lots of stuff!

    • HLPhoenix profile image

      HLPhoenix 4 years ago

      Who, What and Why... this is a great Hub and great advice. The idea of considering the source... the truthfulness of the comment and the person's motivation, not only makes sense but gives one a few seconds before we just verbally punch back.

      Most of my life I just let all negative comments roll off my back. I somehow never believed that anyone really 'meant' any of the negagative things they said to me. Then after a quite serious life event... I swung wildly the otherway. NO ONE could say the slightest negative thing to me without my response being hugely out of proportion.. It took a lot of work on myself to finally come to a middle road... yes people do say and mean negative things many of them unfair... but we and only we are responsible for HOW we actually HEAR what they say, and as you so eloquently say... if we consider the source, why they might have said what they did and whether there is anything we might learn from their comment... we will be both better people and better off. My mother used to say about disagreements... that there is My side, Your side and the Truth. Both of you are very wise women. Voted up and Sharing.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      john000 - MY goodness. THANK YOU for taking the time to leave such a detailed comment. You really took the time to understand my message. Too many people let others dictate how they feel about themselves or other things, More people need to take the time to stop, focus on what is important, take accountability, and realize that they have the ability to hold the power... And youa re right to say that negative does not always equal bad. There can be truth to it. It is important to recognize that and to address it in a productive way.....

      Thanks again.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      marcoujor - I am lad you found this one, Maria. I am particularly proud of it. The advice I give has really helped me be a happier and more understanding person. I would love to see it help others...Honored as always to have you voting.... hugs!

    • john000 profile image

      John R Wilsdon 4 years ago from Superior, Arizona

      I believe your approach to the negative comment is very positive. First, you outline the points to consider prior to flying off the handle. What was said, who said it, and why

      did they say it are perfectly valid questions. But then you include this "If there is some truth hidden behind that nasty remark, it could do you good to address it. Don't just brush it off. You might not be a bitch,but perhaps you did come off sounding rude or insensitive without intending to."

      Negative personalities tend to view the world as threatening in nearly every way, and hence, if they possess that overbearing personality, it can destroy. Nevertheless, I think that with all the downplaying about negativity in the last 40 years, we fail to see that folks with a negative view of something could well be correct!

      If you look at the problems we face in the 21st century, there are plenty of historical figures who predicted such and were categorized as "negative."

      What we need now is a new breed of person who can use your three points to determine what is worth paying attention to and what is not.

      Passive entertainment, pleasure does not equate to happiness, terrorism, etc, ad infinitum have been accurately described based on the predicted course of human history. Did the majority pay attention? I think not.

      Good hub. Thanks for the outline. Thumbs up and etc.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dana,

      I am glad you shared this as I had missed it the first time around.

      This is wise, meaningful and insightful information. It reminds us not to give anyone power over how we feel about ourselves.

      Excellent points in the department of "rising above it"! UP and UABI.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      ImLarn23 - Always thrilled to be visited by my favorite bad@ss hublady

      Yes. This hub was born of experience. I got tired of the emptional rollercoaster brought on by what people were saying to me. So I finally asked myelf, why on earth do I let that happen. And then I was able to say F- them, it is all about me. I took control, stripped them of power over me, and I am happier for it. I am proud to say that this is one of the few real successes in my life.

      I agree with your comments on Two and a Half Men and Charlie. Part of his appeal is his over the top confidence. I think because, aside from the humor if it, we wsh we had it. Well, we can - in a less grandiose way though.

      Thnaks so much for the great comment! I am honored that you really took the time to read this and respond, especially considering that you seem well versed in telling those throwing stones to stick it where the sun don't shine! Thanks a trillion for sharing. I really hope this helps some people to be happier.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      JYOTI KOTHARI - thank you very much for the compliment. :)

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      adrienne2 - nice to meet another fan of being positive. It makes me so sad when I see people get upset or mad about things other people say to them. I used to be like that and it is such a waste of energy and cause of stress. I hope others can use these tips to learn to take control and not let others hurt them so easily.... Thank you for the vote!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      Kathleen Cochran - It is amazing how different many interactiobns would be if the parties involved would just consider the other person's point of view. Unfortunately most people, by default, only see their own side. It takes practice to be less self centered, butit is worth the effort.

      Thank you for your insightful comment. :)

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      rajan jolly - so thrilled to see you stop by this hub. learning to eliminate negative things in out lives is so important to livng a better and healthier life. Thanks for sharing this, I hope some people are helped by it.

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 4 years ago

      excellent advice, Dana! if the person doesn't have your best interests at heart - we must consider the source! we must pick our fights - as well as our hurts..

      while i have a love/hate relationship with the show two and a half men - you gotta hand it to charlie - he's absolutely insult-proof! No matter what's said to him - how insulting it may be - he simply turns it around into something that...amuses him..

      it's an art...lol..

      this was 'positively' uplifting, dear - me thinks this one comes from experience, eh?

      voting/sharingxx

    • JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

      Jyoti Kothari 4 years ago from Jaipur

      You are right. Negative comments hurt the author. Tips are good.

    • adrienne2 profile image

      Adrienne F Manson 4 years ago from Atlanta

      Hi Dana, I am a firm believer in being positive. Your hub is a much needed one. Learning how to turn negative comments into a positive one is something we all can learn how to do. Negative comments are flung at people all the time. This is a great hub! Voted up!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      There is so much truth here. Thanks for the effort you put into this hub. When your friend called you selfish he demonstrated a mistake we all make. He might have thought you did a selfish thing (turns out you were just setting priorities that were necessary) but he shouldn't have generalized you as always being selfish. There is a difference we need to remember when we have conflicts with others.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Some very wise words here for sure Dana. It's great to learn how to analyse comments and see that they do not affect us in a negative way or turn turn some of them to our advantage.

      Voting up and sharing.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      ishwaryaa22 - I am happy that you enjoyed this. It takes a strong person to not let a negative comment get them down. Hopefully this will help some people stay positive.... Thank you for commenting and for the votes.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      Docmo - Thank you taking time to comment. I am glad to know that my little bit of advice is Docmo approved :) Thanks also for sharing

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 4 years ago from Chennai, India

      A wonderful hub! A special thanks to Docmo for sharing this good hub of yours! I agree with you that the best way to deal with negative comments is to act wisely and grow as a person. Way to go!

      Thanks for SHARING. Useful & Interesting. Voted up

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      A great article Dana and so true too: honesty and feedback need a trained giver and an accepting receiver. One learns how to 'gift wrap' feedback in a useful and constructive way and you've made some great points here. Well done! up/shared.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      Jools99 - Good to see you again, Julie! You are right, tact is important. And it seems that a lot of people lack it these days! And everyone is full of surprises. I think the most we can do is to try not to be the one that flies off the handle! :)

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 4 years ago from Ohio

      Stephanie Henkel - it took me a long time to realize the thingsI write in this hub. I wasted so much time worrying about things people said when I really shouldn't have. Now that I know better how to handle these situations I reallyam a lot less stressed out and a ot happier..... Thanks for taking the timeto comment. Always nice to see you.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

      Dana, useful hub! Communication gets tangled from time to time and unravelling it can get ugly. I think being honest with one another is very important but clearly tact is very important too, not everyone is thick skinned. You live and learn though; sometimes people you never expect to respond or react in a certain way can take your breath away.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA

      The source of negative remarks does make a huge difference. Comments from strangers should not affect us as much as comments from family or friends, and perhaps do not need to be addressed at all. Yes, we can learn a little (or a lot) from every experience, if only something about ourselves and how we handle negativity. Good hub with lots of good advice!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      fpherj48 - You are right about communication. It is so important - with each other and with ourselves! What I write aboutin this hub has really changed my life for the positive.... I appreciate you taking the time to comment. Thanks for the vote too! :)

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Dana....I like this hub...I love the message. The last paragraph about how you turned a negative to a positive, is simply awesome, Dana. How many times have we all made the mistake of not simply "communicating?" It does make all the difference in the world when a slight comes between friends......Great hub, Dana. Thank you...UP+++

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Ellieface - thanks! it is true. and once i realize it i am so much happier....

      GREAT picture :) and Welcome to hubpages!

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      Ellie 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I love this hub. It's all so very, very true.

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      IntegrityYes 5 years ago

      WHOA! You are very welcome.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      IntegrityYes - you leave the best comments! thanks for the visit. :)

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      IntegrityYes 5 years ago

      OOH,Dana! HAH-HAH! You are awesome! COO!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Have a positively awesome birthday! :)

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Alecia - thanks for stopping by my hub. You are right, it does take time to develop. But once you do its almost automatic. It is a real shame when people get so caught up in the negative and miss great opportunities to grow and be happy!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I agree with your hub. I always analyze what people say- especially when it's coming across as negative. But you are right to confront negative opinions head-on and let it go. I think that is something that takes time to develop but is all the more beneficial. Great hub!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      JanHealth - Thank you for such nice compliments.... That concept came to me as I have been looking at myself a lot closer and trying to be a student of life. There were times when I was terribly upset by something and no one elst thought it was a big deal. Once I broke things down, it was easy for me to see why.

    • JanHeath profile image

      JanHeath 5 years ago from Australia

      Beautifully written, I love the way you've broken it down into what, who and why. Well done!

    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 5 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      great hub! So true! I love the cats!

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      I share your thoughts completetly. So glad to know you now too!

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      Tonette Fornillos 5 years ago from The City of Generals

      I just got this one linked to mine. I'm excited leading my readers to you and this hub, very helpful. Hubs like this is what the world is in dire need of to give room for peace and harmony. Thank you Dana, you're an inspiration. It's an honor to be linked to you. So nice meeting you here. Keep up and thanks for following me, as well.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Tonipet - Glad you popped over to read that. Yes. Let it go. Make it about you and how great you are (because you are). Take the power away form them and don't waste your energy on them. And I highly reccomened trying to figure out why it bothers you. You will learn so much about yourself and how to improve your life!

      Thanks for the follow. I did a quick look at your profile and I saw that hub of yours you mentioned. I am going to give it a read. You can link anything of mine you like. You have some great hub topics. If I come across anything else of yours that matches any of my hubs, I will link you to them. I am going to rush back over and follow you too. :)

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      Tonette Fornillos 5 years ago from The City of Generals

      Hello Dana, thanks for leading me here. There's energy for me on "When to let it go." I find it so hard holding off from answering back, though, I know I have to do it. Now I'll only have to think I'm wonderful to let it go, after all, you're right... There's so much to swift my attention to than stooping to their level. Thanks for the teaching. Would love to link my " When Someone Dislikes You" to this beautiful hub, hope you don't mind.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Sunshine625 - Thank you! Positive living is SO much better! It took me a long time to get there, and now it is time to encourage others!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Dana, This article is fabulous! Out with the negative and in with the positive!:)

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      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      ChristyWrites - you are very welcome. it was the perfect addition. wishing you lots of success and fun on the way.

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      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Dana, thanks for the link to my hub at the end of your piece here. I am honoured to be associated with it! Thanks too for the follow and fan mail :)

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      ChristyWrites - Thank you. It feels good to be sending out some positive energy. Thanks also for the follow and fan mail.

      emilybee - Not a bad theory. Thank you for reading, and for the fan mail. See you around.

      Hyphenbird - I agree. What is the point of being mean?! And what saddens me is the people that are mean back, or let it upset them. Glad to know that you are one of the ones that gets it. Way to be a strong confident woman.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      I also cannot fathom why some people are so nasty and mean. I have come to know we all have our opinions and often they are based on personal feelings and/or desires. If I know I truly was kind, compassionate, loving or in any way not deserving of the negativity, I ignore it. If I must speak to the person, I affirm his/her right to opinion and let it go. On the internet, it really means little to me because they do not know the real me, just what they perceive.

      As your Hub recommends, it can be a way to reflect and improve.

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 5 years ago

      I agree and enjoyed your hub :) It's true, every interaction throughout the day has so much potential. Every person has interesting things (not to mention some great networking opportunities) so it surely pays to compliment and be sincere to people. I always think when I'm out and about, you never know who may later on in life be a future employer. Treat everyone well. Lovely hub :)

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I really like the sentiment of this hub! I am a strong believer in positivity and you are a good role model Dana. Take care.

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Faith Reaper - Thank you. You are right. It is never ok to be mean. I wish everyone else felt that way. The least we can do is to take the power away from the mean people. It really does make life a lot better.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      Very wise words to live by. We should encourage each other,and there is no sense in one being just flat-out mean. Well done! In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • DanaTeresa profile image
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      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Bill - you are right. No sarcasm! I didn't even realize until you pointed it out. How on earth did I let that happen?! :)

      As always thanks for reading and commenting. Glad you liked it. I put a fair amount of effort into this one. Now if only I could crank out quality work as quickly as you do. I still have to catch up on your latest few hubs. They look great.

      See you around the hubs!

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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great points made here Dana; you are improving right before my very eyes. And hey, this one was done without the sarcasm (or did I miss it?)...I really like this hub; words for everyone to live by.