One worry I often hear from aspiring freelance writers and bloggers is that they’re going to be opening themselves up to criticism. It’s true. When you put something online (like your opinion) you’re opening yourself up to other people’s opinions, both good and bad.
But this is not true of just writers. EVERYONE is susceptible to this type of criticism. (Just go scroll through Facebook and it’s obvious.)
This type of criticism is not just dished out to online businesses either. My Dad owns two small department stores which seem to attract the same type of negativity online from the same type of people who like to dish it out. (Topix in this case. #gofigure)
To be fair, nobody is immune from mean-spirited comments.
And to be honest this used to paralyze me. A truly mean comment would ruin my week. I’m to the point now where mean comments don’t bother me at all (or at least not for longer than five minutes.)
If you’re worried about putting yourself “out there” here are all the different strategies I’ve used to grow a thicker skin and shake off the negativity.
# 1 – Differentiate Between Differing Opinions and Mean Comments
When you share your ideas you’re going to get plenty of people who won’t agree with you. A disagreeing point of view is not a mean comment. Sharing ideas online is just like sharing them in real life – not everyone will carry your same belief system.
I don’t mind at all when someone has a differing opinion. In fact, many times it helps me rethink why I believe what I believe or affirms what I believe.
Don’t get offended when someone has an opinion other than yours as long as it’s presented in a mature, respectful way.
# 2 – Think About Syntax/Context
Reading something someone else wrote can sound a lot different in your head than how it was intended to.
A couple weeks ago I got what I deemed to be a fairly rude comment on one of my more personal articles.
When I was reading it to myself I imagined someone saying it in a super whiny voice. It sounded very much to me like this person wanted to make a ton of excuses for themselves and needed to put me down to do that. While the comment didn’t get to me, I wonder if I was reading it wrong.
The truth is that it can be near impossible to interpret some online comments as the person intended them to sound. It’s important to keeps this in mind when reading something someone else has written.
# 3 – Don’t Read Them If Possible
One thing I learned the hard way is to completely ignore the comments section if you’re featured on a big site.
For instance, if you go read any Yahoo Finance story where someone has paid off debt, built up a business or accomplished anything else out of the norm you’re going to see a long comment section full of hate. And it has nothing to do with the writer of the article.
If you’re a writer or a blogger and one of your articles gets picked up on a big news site you’re probably better off not visiting the comment section.
If you post something on social media that turns into a bunch of hate that is negatively affecting you delete your post or stop looking at the comments. Do what you need to do.
# 4 – Brush it Off – It’s Not About You, It’s About Them
If you do get a truly mean comment brush it off. Seriously, do NOT let it affect you. I know that’s way harder done than said but when someone attacks your character and tries to put you down it has nothing to do with you. That person doesn’t even know you and is likely projecting their insecurities onto you.
Don’t let somebody else’s insecurities mess with your self-esteem.
# 5- Do Not Respond
Another thing I’ve learned the hard way…..:) When you respond to negativity you’re not going to win. That person is going to come back with more negativity therefore making you more upset.
Delete the comment if you can, ignore it if you can’t and move on.
# 6- Realize that Negative Comments are Small in the Overall Picture of Things
In the grand scheme of life most people are fantastic. It’s easy to dwell on the negatives but in reality the positives FAR outweigh the negatives.
If you’re worried about negative feedback I promise you it’s a very small thing that only feels like a big deal at the time.
Negative comments are mostly rare but when they do occur you can get past them.
Kecia @ OnlineIncomeMom says
“Don’t feed the troll” is a perfect quote to remember when dealing with mean comments. I tend to not respond, and if they are too rude, I will delete them from my blog. I don’t like to censor people, but some things are just uncalled for!
That’s pretty much what I do to. I’m okay with constructive criticism and disagreements but if it’s nothing more than an attack I just delete it.
Ashli @ The Million Dollar Mama says
This is timely advice for me! I’ve recently written an article on a touchy topic, and I want to get it published in the hopes that it can encourage other people in the same situation. I am certain it would receive some backlash though. I need to just bite the bullet, I think!
Publish it! Some of my most popular articles are the ones that I’ve been afraid to publish and have received pretty minimal negative comments on. And the truth is I get the most negative comments on things I would never think would offend anyone. It’s kind of random and very hard to predict 🙂
Ashli @ The Million Dollar Mama says
Thanks to your encouragement, I’ve submitted it! We’ll see what happens! 🙂
I used to cry over mean comments! Fortunately, I’ve reached a point where I can *usually* just brush it off. There was one a few weeks ago that I know would have made me cry in my earlier blogging days, but I was able to actually laugh at it.
I just tell myself that these people don’t know anything about me, or my life, and I’m not going to waste a few minutes of my precious time worrying over what an internet stranger thinks of me. 🙂
Great post, Alexa!
I used to be in the same boat as you! I would dwell on the mean comments and they’d really get to me.
Now I’ve come to the realization that there’s always going to be that small portion of people who are going to say mean things no matter what. It’s been easier for me to just accept it 🙂
Great points, Alexa! Luckily, I haven’t received too many negative comments and if I did, I’m not really a sensitive person and probably wouldn’t let it get to me. It’s important to remember to consider context but some people are just haters.
I was reading a Yahoo article I came across last week about a blogging couple who was able to retire early and the comment section was just horrid. People were judging/assuming/drawing conclusions/dismissing various different aspects of their story and the headline when regardless of all that, they reached a HUGE financial milestone and worked hard for their success bottom line. It was annoying to see, but I found it amusing how the commenters were busy arguing with each other while the couple featured in the story was probably off relaxing somewhere and celebrating early retirement 🙂
They Yahoo articles kill me. I’ve never seen so much negativity! If you’re on Yahoo and you’ve done ANYTHING out of the ordinary and you can count on getting at least fifty people tearing you down.
Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore says
Excellent article. I feel you covered several good points. Sometimes responding with something witty works too, because you make them see how ridiculous they are acting.
LOL Well…..a couple weeks ago I *thought* I responded with something witty and then afterward I felt bad for responding at all. For me I don’t want to have to defend myself (which is what I end up doing) so I think it’s best to not respond.
This post is so timely for me. You know I’ve been holding back forever, fearing “mean and nasty” comments. However, after reading this post, I think it’s time to finally put my work out there! Thanks for sharing these awesome tips.
You got this, Lisa. 🙂 Don’t worry about the comments. I promise the good far outweighs the bad and maybe you can take comfort in knowing that everyone gets mean comments regardless of what they say or do.
I’m a pretty sensitive person, but I just consider the source. Anyone who spends their time insulting strangers online is someone I should probably feel sorry for anyway.