How to Cope with Criticism: 5 Tips for Handling Negative Remarks

dealing with criticism

Today's post covers a topic no blogger really likes to think about, but that every blogger has to think about. If you've been criticized on your blog before, you know how much it can hurt. And if you haven't…well, let's just say that day is probably in your near future. The days of “if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all” are over, and if you've said something people dislike, they often won't hesitate to let you know. Immediately.

The days of “if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all” are over, and if you've said something people dislike, they often won't hesitate to let you know. Immediately.

As bloggers, we spend so much time and effort and energy on our blogs, that it understandably stings when people say they don't like what we've done. Those feelings are normal and acceptable and totally okay. It's how you deal with those feelings that matters. The truth is, learning how to deal with critical remarks is part of being a good blogger now, and thinking through this kind of event before it happens makes a huge difference in how you respond.

The truth is, learning how to deal with critical remarks is part of being a good blogger now…

One quick note: this article is not about dealing with bullies. If people are calling you names, insulting you, threatening you, or harassing you, that's not criticism. That's cyberbullying and trolling and requires an entirely different set of responses.

1. Don't respond right away.

A knee jerk response when your emotions are high can turn a vaguely negative situation into one that is completely out of your control. We all know how easy it is to say things you may regret later when you're feeling upset. The first thing you need to do is give yourself time and distance from the post. Shut off your computer. Turn off your phone. Get some coffee. Go for a walk. Whatever it takes. There's no shame in taking a break to gather your thoughts.

2. Confer with friends, peers, or trusted readers.

Your blog is your “baby,” so to speak, and that can make it hard to keep perspective. Get a third party to see what's happened on your blog and to offer their honest insights. Be okay with not hearing the answers you wanted. Ask your friend questions like if the criticism was justified, if there was perhaps some miscommunication or misinterpretation, or if there's some other context you may have missed. Having another point of view when it comes to strong criticism can be very helpful.

3. Decide how you're going to respond…or if you're going to respond at all.

Sometimes responding to criticism is a good thing because it lets you clarify your point of view and, if appropriate, make amends. But other times responding to criticism can backfire and result in stronger remarks or even personal attacks. Trust your gut. If you get the feeling that there is nothing you can say to make your critic happy, it may be better to just move on. On the other hand, if you feel like there's an chance for a conversation, use it an opportunity to start a constructive dialogue. Above all, though, keep calm while you're replying.

4. Avoid deleting criticism.

Deletion rarely silences a critic. While it's every bloggers right to decide on the kind of policies they want their blog to have, a “no negative comments” policy can backfire horribly and make you lose your readers trust for the long term. Again, I'm not talking about harassment, threats, name calling, or insults, but before deleting a negative remark ask yourself if it's worth the risk of everyone (not just the negative commenter) questioning your integrity.

5. Understand that criticism is a part of growth.

And when I say growth, I don't just mean in terms of readers (more readers often leads to more negative comments). No blogger can make everyone happy all the time, and part of growing and learning and changing involves being okay with people challenging your worldview. If your readers feel strongly enough about what you've said to respond to thoughtfully, that's a compliment to you and your blog….even if the comment is critical. Once a few days have gone by, process what you learned from the experience. Did it give you any new insights into your readers? Did you learn more about the kind of blogger you want to be? Do you have any new ideas about the direction you want to take your blog? Criticism is an opportunity for reflection, and the best bloggers have people who are willing to tell them when they're doing wrong. Besides, if you're never criticized, you have to wonder…are you saying anything worth listening to?

What's your advice for dealing with criticism on your blog? How do you think bloggers should view critical comments?

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10 Responses

  1. Kate Retherford

    I had to learn this lesson early on in my blogging career. Just a few months after I started my blog an anonymous reader asked me if I was too fat to have a fashion blog. Each of these 5 tips in the post is spot on.
    When I first received the anonymous question I was so upset and hurt. I didn’t know what to do or how to respond, but I did not respond to Anonymous while I was feeling such strong emotions.
    As I began to calm down I thought about how I should handle the situation. I asked coworkers, friends and other bloggers how they would handle the situation. Many told me to just ignore it, but the comment hurt so much I decided that to be true to who I am as a person and a blogger I needed to respond in a tactful and public manner to the comment.
    I drafted the response while I was still emotional, but I let the draft sit overnight and then I edited it appropriately. Upon posting the response to the comment the support I received was incredible but there were still a few negative Nancy’s out there criticizing me and my response. I chose to not delete the comments, they shared their opinions and (most) did so in a nice manner.
    Never delete those comments, and take any negative feedback as a chance to grow and reflect!
    In case you’re interested, the post that I’m referring to can be found here:

  2. Jillian

    What a useless mess of of drivel. You should go eat a bag of fetid dingo kidneys right NOW as you are a useless human being!!!!!!!

    Kidding! 😀 Sorry…just HAD to leave a negative comment! 😉

    Great points…especially #3

  3. Anastazja Oppenheim

    When it’s constructive, discuss; when it’s trolling, ignore; when it’s offensive, delete. And try hard not mo make them affect your self-esteem – that’s toughest, for me at least.

  4. Marion I. Deleon

    Or perhaps you’ve been on the giving end of negative criticism. If so, how did the brand respond, and how did their response strategy make you feel about them? I welcome you to share your experiences with me in the comments section below!

  5. StyleidNet

    I dont’ know but I’ve (too) lucky with this matter. I don’t get much criticism but I think that is because I am always on the “safe side” … which I have decided to change lately so I think this tips are very much in time for me. 🙂 I think that if the criticism is respectful (even if it hurts) Yes, you should leave it but if its unrespectfu then it has to go.
    As per ‘Anonymous’ comments …. they shouldn’t mean much coming from people who chose to hide their face.

  6. Sandra Costa

    i usually search a lot before posting, so when i post something on my blog i’m really sure what i am talking about. this is the first step, i think, believing in what you’re saying.

    ❤ Blog da Sandra Costa