Negative comments and how to deal with them - Don Jessop

Negative comments and how to deal with them - Don Jessop

November 10, 2020 10 Comments

Negative comments and how to deal with them - by Don Jessop

I've written about dealing with negativity before (see link). So why am I writing about it again? 

Well... you can probably guess how negative comments affect the human psyche. Imagine posting a video or picture on YouTube or Facebook and generating thousands of views. Naturally, comments will arrive. Ninety percent will love what you do, what you have to say, and ten percent will beat you up. No matter how clever you are or how perfectly structured every thought is, you will still get a percentage that beat you up. Even as we speak I hear the critics' voices pulling apart my grammar, spelling, or thought sequences. Pulling apart the title picture I chose and so on. To say we shouldn't have critics isn't necessary. To say you should have a thicker skin isn't necessary either. What's important is to be real, be the best version of yourself in public and let the critics say what they will, then seek to understand ourselves better. 

Here's what modern social science tells us. We all have a negative bias. It's a simple survival instinct. Negative bias means: If nine out of ten people love me and one hates me, then I'll gravitate to trying to understand the hateful person, almost completely forgetting the other nine people. On one hand, seeing the negative helps me grow and understand my communication better. But on the other hand it can spiral me into depression. Anybody who's spent time on Facebook, twitter, YouTube, or any other social platform will attest to the same feelings. If you dive into the comment section of your posts, you're opening up to your own negative bias and the harm that can be generated as a result. 

So here is what I've learned about myself related to all this. Maybe it will help you too. 

1. Identify

If I read the comments, inevitably I'll find a critic. Its helps to identify the person behind the poison. Sometimes the critic is actually a competitor. For instance, one critic on YouTube blasted my liberty video and added links to better ways to do liberty. I followed the link out of curiosity and guess what I found... His own training video! Right then I knew I had found someone whos own insecurities led him to beat up on other trainers in hopes of generating his own business. His video was actually pretty good, but his practice in finding clients was sad to see. However for me, understanding his situation softened my experience about his criticism. He didn't hate me, he was just competing for business. "Business is business," as they say, "try not to take it all too personal."

Other times, the critic has nothing to do with business. It could be someone just finding that one thing to direct their own turmoil at. Someone venting, and it just so happens to be directed at you, but in reality has nothing to do with you. I imagine that I've inadvertently triggered something in that person, something that already existed, some pain, some hurt. Instead of feeling horrible for how they reacted to my post, I try to feel sympathy for how much pain they are in, not related to me at all. From this perspective, I identify the critic as a wounded person, and once again. I take it less personal. At least, most of the time. :)

2. Limit

If I read the comments for too long, my own negative bias clicks in and I find myself only seeing the negative comments. I know myself well enough by now to limit my time spent on comment reading. I genuinely want to read comments to find where people might need help and strive to support them, but if I read for more than about ten minutes, I start diving into the negative. I start taking it personally. Because I know this about myself, I can stop myself before it's too late. You might have shorter, or longer limits than I do. If you have no limit, or if you go straight to the negative and straight to taking things personal. I recommend not reading comments at all until you get a handle on your own insecurities with the help of a coach or mentor. You should still post and add value. You have value to add! But be careful not to read the comments. It can do more harm than good. Imagine if you had something special to share and you didn't share it because you were afraid of the comments, of what happened last time, that would be a tragedy in my eyes.

3. Understand deeper thinking

Sometimes I forget that negativity is real. It's genuine. It's visceral. Like most people I know, we don't tend to like pain. But when I remember that pain is also real and genuine, even necessary for growth, I tend to stop reacting with too much intensity when I see negativity show up. I have to have a clear head to think that way, but in fact, I don't want to be numb to life. I don't want to live in a fantasy world without taste, touch, prickly things, and hot or cold. Those things make me feel alive. What I'm saying is, I don't think having only positive comments show up on every post is realistic to hope for. I think to really live, you have to experience that hot and the cold. This double sided experience adds perspective and vibrancy to our world. I'm not saying I like it. I'm saying it's real. It's normal. It means I'm alive and feeling, which always beats the alternative.

4. End on a good note

If I read comments, no matter how many negative comments I inadvertently see, I'll always make sure I read at least three positive comments before I click away from the post. I'll literally hunt down three or more exceptional comments and process those, rolling the words back and forth between my ears and eyes in that magical grey goo inside my head until I feel confident I'm not alone in the world and I clearly have value to add. Then I click away being sure not to spot any negative comments on the way out. By doing this, ending on a good note, I'm ensuring my own negative bias isn't the last thing I think about. Maybe it could help you too.

There is more, so much more. But in this case, less is more. Keep it simple and stay positive.

I want your comments below. Please add them. If you need help, ask a question. If you want to vent, go ahead, you have my permission, I'll live. I won't take it too personal. Like my mother always said, fight anger with laughter, not anger.

Thanks for reading, comment and share below.



10 Responses

Melissa Gallagher
Melissa Gallagher

December 03, 2020

Joanne shared this with me today because I was talking to her about dealing with negative comments on my YouTube that I have recently been adding a lot of videos to and it’s hard to see the negative comments, especially ones with no constructive feedback but the positive comments are so nice and even people jumping to my defense or my students in the videos which is really nice but social media can be a toxic place if you let it get to you. This article was exactly what I needed, thank you!

Sonya Shaw
Sonya Shaw

November 20, 2020

Just what I needed to hear today! Thank you for the validation and reminder of what healthy looks and feels like in this instance. Love your thoughtful articles and your ever striving towards the positive. 😄

Amy
Amy

November 14, 2020

The timing of this subject was just what I needed to read. Happy Trails, Amy

Kathy Wattles
Kathy Wattles

November 12, 2020

There are people I know who don’t think twice about sounding off in the comment section. They don’t hear themselves and they don’t care. It’s the thoughtful comments both pro and con that are worth reading. You are the best. And congrats to Shona. Love her new book

Cynthia kirsch
Cynthia kirsch

November 11, 2020

I truely was surprised to read your article. Recently I received all negative comments from my farrier. Regarding the fact that my horse would not stand kindly. I’ve explained I am a first time horse owner and I’m learning as I go. U-tube primarily. He said I should him off, I refused due to the fact that I wanted the horse to understand me. He told me either I learn him to stand before the next visit, or he will quit his services. Thinking of my horse and watching more u-tube, I am determined. I don’t think my farrier is a nice man, but that’s ok because, my horse will understand.

Teri
Teri

November 11, 2020

I try and remember to not saying/type anything on line that i wouldn’t say to a person face. I lot of people hind behind the keyboard. Also there is the whole situation with bots/trolls, they can say negative things just to get people riled up…

Heidi A Garvey
Heidi A Garvey

November 11, 2020

Thank you for sharing this and addressing this subject. What great advice and much needed, especially now.

Patty
Patty

November 11, 2020

Yes Yes Yes.
I too have found it’s best to not even read those comments. With the business I’m in, it’s tough, but I have learn to ignore them.. not always but most of the time!! It hard to change someone’s mind,even to be a BIT open about things they do not understand!!
Lead by example!! 💚

Patty
Patty

November 11, 2020

Yes Yes Yes.
I too have found it’s best to not even read those comments. With the business I’m in, it’s tough, but I have learn to ignore them.. not always but most of the time!! It hard to change someone’s mind,even to be a BIT open about things they do not understand!!
Lead by example!! 💚

Tricia Coffey
Tricia Coffey

November 11, 2020

Your mother was a wise woman who raised a wonderful son! Your thought sequence flows like a good riding workout – Identify what you want to work on Limit it – don’t drill it – understand how your horse is feeling and processing and end on a good note! Hard to argue with that! Love you loads and keep the faith!

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