How to Deal with Negative Feedback

qhote3By now I have been rejected a ton of times while pursuing freelance writing. I’ve gotten used to it. That’s because most of the “no’s” I get come in the form of not hearing back from a prospect or a polite “no, I don’t think you’re a good fit.”

Well, that was until yesterday.

My First Rude Email

My oldest daughter had woke up with a mild fever accompanied by a hacking cough and a sore throat. So, not wanting her to have to sit at the babysitters with a house full of kids all day I kept both of the girls home.

Needless to say my day was busier than usual. I tried to work on some basic blog duties and respond to emails in between entertaining the girls.

The day before I had sent about five emails out to potential writing clients. To my surprise two of them quickly emailed back. (It usually takes a bit longer before I hear back from prospects – if at all.) Since they had responded to me so quickly I wanted to get back to them quickly as well.

I replied to the first email. I got a response within a few minutes requesting a phone interview for next week. SCORE!

As I replied to the second email I was interrupted by the usual “mom, mom, mommy, mom, MOMMY” so I quickly finished up the email without proofreading it and hit send.

And (gasp) I made a  grammar mistake in the email.

I got a quick response from this email as well, only this woman wasn’t so impressed. She began her email by pointing out my grammar mistake and ended it with a comment insulting and belittling me as a blogger and writer. 

I get it. It’s not too smart to make a grammar mistake when applying for a writing job, that’s a given. But to be so rude about it just amazes me.

I was shook at first. I sat and thought about the email for a good hour. I wanted to respond with a few choice words of my own. Luckily I maintained self-control.

It’s emails like these that hold most people back from putting themselves out there. Nobody wants to volunteer to be criticized. But I can honestly attest to the fact that these emails are rare.

This is my first rude email, although probably not my last, out of the hundreds of emails I have sent out.

If you do end up getting a rude email, blog comment, or any other type of correspondence there are a few things you should do.

quote2# 1 – Immediately Get It Out of Your Head

It is so easy to dwell on the one negative comment and let all of the positive comments fly out the window.

Look at me, I had just gotten an email from another potential client telling me that he was impressed with what I’ve done so far. Minutes after I got a rude email basically telling me that I suck and it was all I could think of.

Get the thought out of your head. Delete the blog comment or email and don’t look back. If twenty other people think you’re good enough don’t let one person tell you that you aren’t.

# 2 – Ignore It

When I read that email all I could think of was replying with some explicit words. I refrained.

A lot of people look to get a rise out of others. Belittling others makes them feel good about themselves. You don’t need to give them that satisfaction.

Just ignore it. No need to defend yourself. You know you’re more than capable so why try to convince someone who isn’t worth your time.

# 3 – Do Something Positive

After receiving this email I was pretty pumped. Instead of letting my energy take a negative direction I decided to do something productive.

I sat down and started writing blog posts. I completely took my mind off of the email.

It’s funny now that I have wrote this, the email isn’t bothering me at all. I’m actually pretty glad that she told me no, even if it was rude. Because in the end I wouldn’t want to work for someone like that anyways.

If you have received a rude email, blog comment, or anything else, just keep pushing on. There’s no reason to let one negative piece of feedback stop you in your tracks.

What do you do when you receive negative feedback? How often has it happened?


  1. says

    So people are just a hot mess and don’t seem to think about what they are doing. You never know what happen or is going on so its best to judge a collection of things and not just one grammar mistake. I agree you have to just get it out of your head and do something positive. Like my mom always taught me be the better person and kill them with kindness.

    • Alexa says

      I try to kill people with kindness when they are rude, especially at my day job. Unfortunately there are just a few times when I’d rather kill them with some other words lol. Not doing that is self control!

  2. says

    You handled it well, Alexa. We all squeak out a typo now and again. It’s especially hard to avoid mistakes when you write for a living and may be writing thousands of words per day. We’re only human.

    I don’t care about negative feedback anymore at all. The world (and internet) is a huge place. For every person who doesn’t appreciate my writing, there are five people who do.

    • Alexa says

      That’s right! I like your attitude. I was really bothered by the absolute rudeness of the email for about an hour then I chalked it up to she’s not a person that I want to work for.

      It all works out well in the end!

  3. says

    There’s been more than one case where people have indirectly made me felt like the whole “you will never amount to anythign” vibe. Whether you’re doing good or bad people will always have something negative to say or at least WANT you to feel bad about yourself for one reason or another. I don’t get negative comments often, probably because most of them come from blogging buddies 😉 but when I write a controversial view I can sometimes get heated responses or people who tell me flat out “you’re so wrong about this.” I like your strategy of moving on and doing something productive. It seems like such a great way to get past the negative event, and sometimes a negative comment/email/etc. can be really motivating to get the next post out there, the next email out there, and make it so there is no room for their negativity.

    • Alexa says

      That’s the thing that gets me. We all have different viewpoints but can’t that be respected? I don’t see the need for people to be mean. I guess I am just an easy going person though. I’d rather get along with everyone than point out their flaws and call them idiots!

  4. says

    I like the idea of #3, doing something positive, even though it is probably the hardest thing to do at the time. Maybe before doing #3, give yourself some time to cool off and put together a positive response.

  5. says

    Great tips…I am really bad at taking criticism, especially when it is unwarranted. I definitely need to learn to get it out of my head and ignore it. I agree with Holly that you handled it well…as much as you wantto reply, it’s probably better that you just ignore it. Plus I’m sure your positive feedback greatly outnumbers your negative ones.

    • Alexa says

      Positive feedback definitely outweighs the negative. It’s just that for some reason negative feedback sticks in your head for so much longer, making you doubt yourself. I guess it’s just something you’ve got to get used to if you’re publicly airing your life.

  6. says

    I can definitely get a little defensive with negative feedback as well. If it’s a blog comment, I try to respond in a level-headed way but also refute whatever it is they’ve said. If I can give a good argument while also sounding like a decent human being, I figure that can improve how I look to others much more than simply deleting or ignoring the comment.

    • Alexa says

      Yeah I definitely see making the argument if you can keep a level head. Unfortunately there are times when keeping a level head is pretty hard to do. Or, at least for me. I can take a disagreement but a downright insult gets me going!

  7. says

    Way to go Alexa for handling the email in a mature manner :)

    One thing I would have done is to politely reply back, thanking that person for pointing out your error. I would have also pointed out exactly why you neglected to proof read the email…that you were looking after your sick little girl. If nothing else, I would hope that the person who sent the email would have a twinge of guilt for being such a dick!! :)

    Either way, you handled it wonderfully :)

    Take care and all the best.


  8. says

    I’ve had to deal with a lot of rude people past, present, and likely future. It used to really bother me, but I try to let it go and just smile if it’s someone being mean to my face. It is funny how you will forget 15 positive things and get stuck on the negative. Glad you used the energy for productive things.

    • Alexa says

      I know it’s so crazy how the negative things stick in your head but you are quick to forget the positive comments you are getting. I wish our brains weren’t wired like that!

  9. says

    It’s really tough to get over negative feedback. For me, it has more impact than positive feedback. Even when trying to purposefully ignore rude or spiteful feedback, my mind always keeps coming back to it. It’s tough to shake it off although the steps you’ve outlined above certainly are the way to go. In fact, they can be applied to other facets of life where you receive unwarranted, overly negative criticisms.

  10. says

    I have been dealing with this a lot at my job lately. Both my coworker and I have been victims of what felt like shaming sessions within the last few months. We vented to each other about it and eventually it kind of goes away. You don’t forget what was said, though. It’s unfortunate because I know we’re really hard workers and it doesn’t seem to be paying off. Sometimes shrugging it off and focusing on yourself/being productive is the best option!

  11. says

    @Alexa- Sorry about the negative feedback but I’m glad you were able to write a great article about it! You’re right, it is so easy to focus on the negative comments but like you said, it’s much better and more productive to stay positive. Good luck with the other positions!

  12. says

    Glad you were mature enough to walk away from it. I dealt with that during conference calls and meetings at work. Sadly, walking away was not an option. But like you said #3 Do something positive, kept me going through out the rest of the day. :)

  13. Brookst says

    Ignore it! Such great advice not just for work but personal life. My daughter’s father has sent a few scathing emails trying to entice me into a battle but after ignoring each one he finally stopped completely. I guess it is no fun fighting with yourself and I feel I’ve come out on top taking the high road.

  14. says

    You know there is a way to correct or let someone know about their mistake without being so rude. Not sure why people are like that but sadly you’re right, they have to cut someone down to make themselves feel better. And I’m sure he/she is just SO PERFECT when it comes to writing. Riiight! I just take it as a mistake I made and their rude-ness is none of my business. If someone makes a negative comment on a blog, I just say thank you for your viewpoint and move on. I think some people love a good argument so I don’t engage. Sorry that happened, but congrats on the other gig!

  15. says

    I also can get really bothered when people are rude or mean to me; but I end up feeling really sorry for them because in the end that kind of negativity and ill-will affects them more than anyone else. Imagine how horrible it would be to always go through life looking for the negatives in people. I much prefer focusing on the positives!

  16. says

    I think the really transcending thing is to take negative feedback and see what lessons can be learned. For example, maybe important responses don’t have to be sent right away and can wait until there’s dedicated time to proof-read them.

    Btw, I don’t know if there is a nice way to correct someone’s grammar. Some people always have negative responses no matter how nicely something is phrased. For example, if I point out that it should be, “now that I have written this,” instead of “now that I have wrote this,” you could say, “oops, thanks” and fix and forget it (adding it to your proof-read list for the future), or you could get very upset about it. You control that reaction.

  17. says

    Great tips Alexa. It’s amazing how rude people can truly be with the shroud of internet to hide behind. While there are terrible bosses, I wonder if that lady would have been as rude to you face-to-face? At least you figured out early on that she’s not the right person to work with!

  18. says

    It sounds like you handled this beautifully! Glad it turned into something productive rather than negative. There’s so many ways to frame negative feedback without being hurtful; it’s a shame this person hasn’t learned that skill.

  19. says

    “Because in the end I wouldn’t want to work for someone like that anyways.” You’re spot on. I love the positivity. :) In my own recent freelance applications, I have mostly been ignored. Twice I have been told, “we’re looking for someone with more experience,” which is very mild compared to the meanie face you encountered.

    My worst experience came from a professor in undergrad! She knew I was taking 5 (yes, 5) summer classes, and I was extremely busy. She told me that I could have an incomplete if I needed more time. When I called to ask for my incomplete, she started yelling at me, telling me “this isn’t how REAL LIFE works, you can’t just not follow through on commitments.” I was so upset I had to call out of work because I couldn’t stop crying. I’m still easily affected by meanness, but I’ve also learned to turn off my sensitivity sometimes and shrug off the nastiness. After all, there’s so much in my life to be positive about!

  20. says

    Excellent advice. Too often do I see in the work world someone send a ridiculous email and then the recipient fire back with something equally as ridiculous. If I am the recipient, I like to see them face to face (if possible) to discuss and if that is not possible, then at least pick up the phone. Of course, you did not have this option in your scenario, so just letting it go is certainly the best way to go.

    I really get annoyed by people that hide behind email and send out such things. Not to get on a second tangent, but I really think that is an issue with younger folks who have grown up with social media and texting. And most put things in email that they would never have the guts to say to someone in person.

  21. Find Love, Money, Happiness, Success says

    I got my first weird rejection when I was twenty. I call it weird because I know I can send out rejections like that but I wont. I mailed a job application to a company and followed with a phone call. When I explaned why I called the guy goes ‘So you send the weird letter’ I quickly mentally reviewed the letter and saw no reason why my employment whould be weired so wrote up as this guy doesn’t know what he’s doing. I blogge dht e thing here: Happiness, Success Money, Find Love


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