35 experts advise how to handle negative comments (part 1)

By radek

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Learn their methods and be unstoppable!


Negative comments? Let’s be honest — we’ve all been there.

You are bursting with enthusiasm, because that great idea that you want to pursue just came to your mind, or because you rolled up your sleeves and worked on something meaningful for a month now, or even already created something that you believe will transform your and other people’s life. And you just can’t wait to share it with your friends, family or people in your social / professional circle.

“Stupid idea”. “That can’t work”. “But there’s already thing like that”. “Ah, that’s cute little idea! How’s your job search going by the way?”

Sounds familiar, right? Well, keep on reading, because we’ve got something BIG, that will help you to deal with them!

Why would you want to listen to us?

Because, when it comes to negative comments, we’ve heard them all, and yet achiever.be has been born! But that’s not all, so fasten your seatbelts!

  1. Profundity of banality
  2. Wasted potential
  3. The Question
  4. Tyler Tervooren [riskology.co]: Feeling defeated vs being defeated
  5. Outside Criticism
  6. Mark Shead [markshead.com]: Fight aggression with politeness
    Theo Ellis [justbereal.co.uk]: You're worth it
    Steve Scott [developgoodhabits.com]: Find the pattern
    Alden Tan [alden-tan.com]: Believe in Yourself
    Matthew Snider [selfdevelopmentsecrets.com]: Not everyone will be supportive
    Donald Latumahina [lifeoptimizer.org]: Ignore the negative
    Joel Runyon [impossiblehq.com]: Have a trusted circle
    Nick Macri [fearlessmotivation.com]: Believe in your goal more than anyone
    Vidya Sury [vidyasury.com]: Be consistent

    See more:

I. Profundity of banality

Using cliches, especially in the first paragraphs of the article, is a tricky practice. On one hand we want to avoid banality and be categorized as “yet another…”, for that is never a good first impression. On the other hand, many of the cliches are what they are, because of how often they are used. And there is a reason for that — they are, in most cases, incredibly wise or painfully accurate!

Now that I made a good excuse in advance, I’m going to take the risk and use one, that each of us came across at least once. And if you’re somehow related to motivation and self-development world, you probably see it on a daily basis.

“Road to success is never easy”

Well, most of us know that. No matter how we define success, or how small or big our goal is, we all experienced obstacles that we had to overcome. Being late for a bus to work, not passing the driving test or losing money on the bad investment. Some might even go an extra length and call it failures, but I strongly recommend you don’t do that mistake.

But as far as slips are natural steps of every learning curve, negative, discouraging comments and feedback, like the ones I listed in the beginning of this article, are far more destructive. They should be banned by law, they are inhumane, evil, toxic like polonium, purely wrong, and yet, unfortunately, easily accessible for anyone with a fraction of bad intentions.

Sadness

This lovely photo I've found on pixabay is here to balance the amount of cliche-ness in this chapter


II. Wasted potential

It is really hard to understand.

Why would anyone use his / her energy, creativity, potential, wisdom, intelligence, facial muscles, vocal chords or fingers and keyboard, only to put us down, to make us feel bad about what we did. At first you try to understand their agenda, their reasons, but shortly after things start to go really bad: influenced by this negativity, now YOU start to question your idea, your mission, or worse — your very own self.

It hurts. It really does. You start to feel down, your motivation goes under, eventually hits the rock bottom. You feel too embarrassed to talk about it with your friends or with you peers. They wouldn’t understand. Their road to success seemed to be far smoother than yours.

Funny paradox.

They heard those comments! And we too heard those comments!

“We”? Who is “We”?

Me, my team, but also 35 exceptional experts in motivation, success and self-development field, most of whom you probably already know from their inspiring blogs, podcasts and videos.

Believe it or not, but they too had to learn how to overcome the destructive effects of negative, discouraging comments, they too have heard things like “why should I listen to you if that other guy is more of an expert?”, “why would I want your product if there is already similar one on the market?”, “why are you trying to do something you’re not good at?”, “why won’t you just get a normal job like everyone else?”.

And it’s not that they posses some supernatural powers, that make them immune to that kind of comments, not at all.

They went through hard times. Just like you did. But they never gave up on their dreams, eventually reaching that level of success we all can envy them for. Just like you will after reading this article.


III. The Question

The initial question that I asked was:

“What was the most discouraging thing You’ve heard while working on Your blog / video blog / coaching business, and what was Your trick to recover from it?”

After the first batch of responses I realized my initial assumption was not complete. Indeed, things we hear from other people are the most obvious methods to put us down, but the only ones?

Not quite!

After analyzing all the responses received from the experts, all the negative comments examples, I decided to categorize them in the following way:Outside Criticism, Self Criticism, Omittance. All three usually take us by surprise, all three are heavier than expected, all three can be equally hurtful.

Good news: all of them are curable. And you’re about to get the treatment.

Tyler Tervooren - riskology.co
Tyler Tervooren

Riskology.co

There have been lots of disappointments and discouragements along the way. The one thing I always tell myself when I feel defeated is to celebrate because feeling defeated and being defeated are two very different things.

If you only feel defeated, count yourself lucky, then get up and get back to work. It could be a lot worse.

More about Tyler Tervooren

Tyler Tervooren is a founder of Riskology.co. While his main focus is leadership, he does not shy away from doing far more unique things such as running marathons. Source of inspiration and motivation to thousands of his readers and seminars attendants.


IV. Outside Criticism

This one is our close companion since our early years.

Kids can be really reckless, and I bet you’ve been told some pretty nasty things from your contemporaries when you were in kindergarten or primary school. Nothing meaningful, sophisticated or well thought out, still harsh enough to give you a trauma for the next few days, weeks, or sometimes years! We learn that unpleasant feeling of rejection very early on, so whenever we are to face it again in our grown up lives, we’re often as fragile, defensive and vulnerable as when we were 5.

Loneliness

We don't handle the criticism well, regardless the age


Some of the comments I received have been the biggest opportunity to get discouraged.

For example, you can find a comment on my site right now that says “This article is silly and lacks logic.”

That wasn’t really what I was going for in that particular article, but that comment was mild compared to:

“The author of this crap is such a retard. I’m so tired of these uneducated dumb f***s speaking out.”

It is obviously upsetting to see people writing stuff like that. The way I’ve handled it is simply to be as polite as possible.

I’ve had a lot of people insulting me in the comments, but usually, if I stop and think about it, I can see that it really isn’t about me. Often they are going through a hard time in their life and I’m just the person they can take it out on.

For example, I wrote a post about how small businesses tend to overvalue people with an MBA. This was based on some of my experience consulting for small companies. I had comments from some people agreeing with me and some people disagreeing. Some of the disagreements were very mean, and my first instinct was to basically start a fight by responding in kind.

Fortunately, I took a bit of time to calm down first and re-read their comments. A second read didn’t make them any less insulting, but looking closer I realized that the person had just finished an expensive MBA from a for-profit college with a poor reputation. Their spelling and grammar were horrible — well beyond a few typos that happen to everyone when writing up a quick reply. They were mostly upset that they couldn’t find a job. The fact that my post suggested their degree might not be worth as much as they had hoped, just gave them a place to direct their anger.

I took the approach of trying to be helpful and polite regardless of what they had said. If I could, I’d offer advice, and I tried to make sure I thanked them for sharing their point of view.

I remember one particular exchange where I had struggled to be polite. Several years later a new comment came through on that post. This time the reader said that while he didn’t agree with all the points in that article, he was very impressed with my ability to respond to angry comments. For me that was a success story for my blog.

More about Mark Shead

MarkShead, on his blog Productivity501.com, writes about technology for business, money, productivity and self-development. Expect a intriguing twist in his articles, for his background is music composition and software engineering!

Classic example of “there’s always one in every class”. No matter what you do, how good your intentions are, there will always be that one person who will use his / her spare time, energy, creativity and potential, only to write angry, rude, offensive email or comment. And unfortunately, it always have pretty negative impact on the addressee.

Yet as Mark mentioned, it often isn’t about us. That could be nothing more than just condensed frustration, that has been gaining the momentum for a long time now, and that frustration desperately needs a crash test dummy to take the impact. And you just happened to be around.


It might feel unfair. Why us? There’s 6 billion people out there, why he picked me?

Theo Ellis has a great perspective on that.

Theo Ellis - justbereal.co.uk
Theo Ellis

JustBeReal.co.uk

I’ve heard too many discouraging things in the past 4+ years of blogging, so couldn’t boil it down to 1. It still happens to this day, regardless of where I write or share my thoughts.

But since you asked, I’ll share one. Here’s an example of a discouraging comment I received on an article where I referenced a couple of musicians:

“You actually think Nicky Manage is a Musician???
and you put her in the same sentence as Bob Marley and Jackson.
I bet you don’t play a single instrument. And youre giving advice?
I suppose Kanye is one of your favorite musical geniuses too.
Dude, go back to playing Guitar Hero. Loser.”

With that in mind, here’s the way I look at things: Does the person who’s discouraging me even give a F about my well being?

The obvious answer is NO. And so it doesn’t bother me to that extent.

Here’s another way I look at it which you might find more helpful… If someone discourages you, look at it in 3 different ways:

1. Gratitude
2. Respect
3. Opportunity

If someone goes out of their way to discourage me I’m grateful. Because well, they could have been doing anything else. Yet they used that time to put me down. So I must be worth it.

And in an odd way (depending on the context) I respect them for discouraging me so openly. And lastly — I see it as an opportunity to grow, adapt, improve or something related. Change your perspective about it and it won’t even be a thought. Let alone a problem.

More about Theo Ellis

Theo Ellis invites you to JustBeReal. I hope you like spicy food, because Theo does not put much sugar and cherries on top of his articles. Direct, honest, but at the same time very encouraging — those are the reasons his readers love him for.

Sure, you can feel down about someone criticizing you, but you can also take a different perspective. You’re worth that time!

Maybe someone has his own way to motivate you, and he believes criticism is the way to make you grow? Maybe someone understands your potential, understands what are you capable of achieving if presented with no obstacles, and wants your wings to be cut? Or maybe someone sees you as a threat, knowing that the thing you work on, can, at some point, breach his safety bubble?

Either way, you’re worth someone’s time, isn’t that great?

I don't know anyone who would respond positively to belittling, but that's apparently motivational hit in the army


Here’s a tricky moment. You do want to use someone’s negative energy to boost your confidence, but in moderation. A single comment could be nothing more than the outcome of author’s frustration. Two — not your most lucky day. Three — well, interesting coincidence, perhaps funny story to tell…

But when such comments happen more and more often, and tackle the similar point — you have a pattern here. Neither a coincidence, nor a conspiracy. A pattern.

Steve Scott - developgoodhabits.com
Steve Scott

DevelopGoodHabits.com

I haven’t (as yet) received majorly impactful negative comments on my blog, but I have on my books.

Books run off of comments and reviews. If people take the time to leave nice reviews, the books do well and make good money. If people leave nasty reviews, sales crash like the Hindenburg.

All books get some bad reviews. It is just a fact you had to live with. When my bestselling book: Habit Stacking, got the negative review, “It is like Buzzfeed for habits, but not as good” in 2013 I was fairly crushed. The book had been selling like gangbusters, and getting wonderful reviews, and that was the first seriously nasty review written that sounded intelligent and real.

Over time, however, I began to see a pattern of a handful of other people having similar complaints. I realized that I frontloaded the specific “habits” in this book and many people were not understanding the entire concept. Plus, some of the original 97 Habits may have been a bit generic.

Never being happy with the original, this caused me to do a massive rewrite 4 years later. Creating a new version of the original concept and creating a book with nearly three times the content of the original Habit Stacking book. Giving more (and hopefully better) habits as examples in my new book Habit Stacking: 127 Small Changes to Improve Your Health, Wealth, and Happiness.

The point is that one negative comment may mean nothing, but many indicate a pattern, and you can use these negative comments to improve your work and make something better than the original.

More about Steve Scott

Steve Scott says you should DevelopGoodHabits.com. Success is not about cheap tricks and luck, but about developing long-lasting habits and mindset of successful people. And Steve is one of the top players in that field!

Every now and then you will be a victim of unfair criticism, anger or violent rage. You can try to avoid them, but they will find you at some point. If they happen occasionally and out of the blue, well, you had a bad luck. But once they start to come in dozens, saying the same thing, either about you, or about what you do, you might want to take them seriously.

And appreciate. Someone just bothered to tell you that he paid attention to your work, found it worthy to criticize, and would like you to improve it. Perhaps even pointed where exactly. This kind of luxury you might get sometimes only from anonymous haters.


Easier said than done, I know. While some people were born with a thick skin (or grew one over the years), allowing them to put the negative comments through rational mind filter, extracting the useful data and rejecting the “noise”, some of us are just naturally more sensitive.

Sensitivity can be a great thing, appreciated especially in the creative industries, but comes with a price — makes you far more vulnerable to negative comments.

Don’t worry though, Alden has it covered:

Alden Tan - alden-tan.com
Alden Tan

Alden-Tan.com

To be honest, I still go through it today. ​I get discouraged a lot, and being a highly empathetic, hence sensitive dude, it gets to me deeply sometimes, like a single comment can ruin my entire day.

My best advice is really believe in yourself. I know, that’s a cliche, but it’s true. Look at it this way:

You can believe in God.
You can believe in the law of attraction.
You can believe in your mentor.
You can believe in your family, friends and loved ones.
You can believe in your education.
You can believe in some new fancy, new age, trick thingy that’s supposed to make life easier today.

But if you don’t believe in yourself, you ain’t got shit then. Everything above is useless.

So have a little faith and start doing the work, your way, your own time and your style.

Someone may have discouraged you, but it doesn’t mean you need to take that in. Believe in yourself so much that it’s the only way to go in life. Besides, there’re tons of people out there who believe in the same things as you do. They’re just quiet.

Go with faith, in yourself.

More about Alden Tan

Alden Tan is the guy behind Alden-Tan.com. Singapore based passionate breakdancer, who loves writing about self-development, dating, fitness, motivation, to name a few. His blog posts are very insightful and “honest as f**k” — you’ll love it.

Isn’t that interesting how we all tend to believe in so many people and so many things, but go extra length to avoid believing in ourselves? Logically thinking, it does make sense, believing in everything / everyone but ourselves takes the responsibility off our shoulders.

Ironically enough, unlike in hiking or climbing mountains, lack of that heavy backpack won’t get us very far. On the success ladder, we climb the higher, the more we carry on our shoulders.


So how does one start to believe in himself / herself? By moving on, ignoring the negativity for example.

Blogging is not a quiet activity. It’s where we let out our feelings and views on certain topics. It’s quite common for any blogger to get nasty, discouraging comments and even emails. I get them all the time and it doesn’t matter how nice you are or how good your blog is, it happens all the time.

There are many stories of remarks from my own family, my readers and even other bloggers. I chose this one and it was a remark from another blogger. I reach out a lot to connect and try to promote my blog, that’s one way to get known. So I contacted this self-help blogger who’s in the same niche, and he told me that my blog is bad and I’m just there to make a quick buck like every other blogger who contacts him.

It’s actually worse than it sounds because the blogger is a successful self-help blogger who’s suppose to be helping people, but that’s the reply I got. I guess that’s a way of discouraging competition. It did strike me hard at that time because I’m no expert in the self help industry, but I just started a blog to encourage myself through encouraging others.

I guess life is not all it looks like. I’m sure that blogger would never in a million years reply that way to his readers or post any sort of reply like that for the public to see.

So what’s the trick to recover from it?

I believe that there will always be doubters and naysayers. We just need to accept that not everyone will be supportive. I said before, no matter how nice or good a person you are, there will still be doubters. So take it with a pinch of salt and start living life the way you need to.

I have a post about failure of famous people which you might like to check out as well.

More about Matthew Snider

Matthew Snider is a founder of SelfDevelopmentSecrets.com. While he admits early on in his “About” section there are no real secrets, together with Rebecca they put together very well written and comprehensive articles on a regular basis. Highly recommended!

When the discouragement comes from people you respected, sometimes even admired, it’s even harder to believe in yourself. After all, that is someone who achieved success in your field, someone who you wanted to model, to be like. He must be having all the knowledge, all the expertise and all the authority to make the ultimate judgement. Right?

Wrong.

And this is exactly the moment you have to stick to your plan.


“For how long?” you might now be asking.

Until you stop paying attention:

Donald Latumahina - lifeoptimizer.org
Donald Latumahina

LifeOptimizer.org

Honestly, I can’t remember what the most discouraging thing was. Yes, there were discouragements (such as negative comments) along the way, but I can’t remember them.

I think that’s actually the key to recovering from discouragement: just take the lesson and move forward. Forget the negativity. This approach has worked well for me for years.

More about Donald Latumahina

Donald Latumahina runs a popular blog LifeOptimizer.org, that focuses mostly on productivity and personal effectiveness. Having background and genuine interest in IT, you can be sure he knows about effectiveness and time management all there is!

Take a car and go for a ride. After 100km stop the engine and look at the windshield. See these smashed mosquitoes? They tried to obstruct your ride, but you didn’t even notice them. They were too small, too insignificant.

If you start ignoring the negative comments and just keep on moving, they will lose its significance. And you, seeing less and less obstacles, will truly start believing in yourself!

Driving Fast

If you know where are you going to, obstacles become insignificant


But complete negativity-blindness is not healthy either. The line between confidence and arrogance is really thin, and crossing it can be as easy as self-destructive, making you overlook legitimate advice. Joel has a solution:

Joel Runyon - impossiblehq.com
Joel Runyon

ImpossibleHQ.com

My decisions are not based on online comments. The internet is filled with noise and if you take every online criticism to heart — you will never do anything. Keep a small circle of people you trust and listen to their criticisms + figure out how to grow, but don’t worry about every random comment on the internet.

More about Joel Runyon

Joel Runyon founded ImpossibleHQ.com and several other “impossible” initiatives, featured on Vice, Time, GQ, to name a few. His list of achievements will destroy your self esteem, so you might want to skip it… or use it to get all the motivation and inspiration you will ever need.

Just like having favorite dentist, barber or clothing brand you entirely trust, have a friend who will support you no matter what, whose criticism will be honest and constructive, who will have no agenda in putting you down other than seeing you grow.

And it is not to say the good friend will be always right in his opinions or criticism. It can happen that your vision won’t make sense to him.


But as long as it makes sense to you, you’ll be fine:

The main source of discouragement when starting anything new, especially something unique or different, is that no one else will understand your dream and your vision like you do.

That is just common sense really, but most people let other peoples opinions stop them from starting, or stop them from putting their heart and soul into it.

It didn’t matter to me that no one understood my vision, because I understood it. I understood it, and it meant a lot to me that it worked, so I made sure it did.

More about Nick Macri

Nick Macri is the main creator at FearlessMotivation.com — the largest motivational speeches company in the world, a company that aims to “empower people to take responsibility for their current circumstances”.

It indeed happens very often, that we doubt whether what we do makes any sense at all. Not having any “real” successes under our belts (not talking about Nick here, he has significant business portfolio, including building a clothing company), not having any serious achievement to refer to, we tend to get easily influenced by others’ opinions.

And that’s the funniest part:

Those “others” often have empty portfolio too. Giving all the authority to someone who can rather learn from you, isn’t very smart, is it?

So even if you’re the last person on earth that believes in the idea, stick to it.


Let’s stay in the entrepreneurial environment for one more minute, because there’s one more great example of the negative comment:

Vidya Sury - vidyasury.com
Vidya Sury

VidyaSury.com

Each time I started a new blog (I have seven active blogs now), I had naysayers telling me I was crazy, and that I should consolidate them all into one, since it is so much work. But the truth is, I love what I do and I didn’t let it deter me. As if to prove what they said, there are days when my blogs are lonely places. While I have never stressed over stats and numbers, it definitely feels good to see visitors and comments.

My trick to recover from it? Being consistent. Being persistent. This is something I learned from my two decades in the corporate world, where I worked in sales/marketing/training.

And I believe this has been the #1 reason why I’ve been able to establish my blogs and my writing. I continue to do what I enjoy, and enjoy what I do. Just like with life, there are ups and downs in every activity and I find motivation in focusing on what has gone well. I recently wrote a post about one happiness trick that will change your life, something I’ve practised for decades now. I believe I can create the life I love, and I work towards that with a positive mindset. In the case of my blogs, I am inspired by the thought that one day, I will turn them into books, and that keeps me focused on my goal.

So no matter what anyone says, I will march forward, doing what I love and loving what I do. On this journey, my gratitude journal will be my constant companion in keeping me on track.

More about Vidya Sury

Vidya Sury is collecting smiles on her blog VidyaSury.com. Author, book reviewer, coffee lover, foreign languages addict and editor, she writes mostly about parenting, travel, food, productivity, health and other pleasures of living your life. Probably one of the kindest people you will ever meet!

The example given by Vidya is not a typical “negative comment” per se. In fact, this is the advice given by someone who genuinely had good intentions in mind. The problem is, this person also had no idea about running a blog (or any other given example, be it running a business, intellectual or sport activity, etc).

It could be discouraging, after all you feel confident in your field, you have been receiving good feedback over the years, and now some “newbie” gives you the advice that not only is most likely wrong, but also implies that you actually need it, that the quality of your work does not speak for itself.

So if that happens, take Vidya’s advice. You know what you’re doing!


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