Dealing With Critical Comments

One of the most common concerns raised when the subject of business blogging is under discussion is what to do about critical or hostile comments. I’ve been explaining the theory for a few years now in various forums and in various countries. But an experience this week showed me I still had (have) some learning to do.

What happened was that I had a critical comment on one of my blog posts here the other morning. It wasn’t a nasty comment, in fact very mild and I wasn’t completely sure the comment was about this blog or about another, the subject of the blog post being commented on. And on re-reading the post I realise I may have implicitly invited some criticism.

But to be frank, it annoyed me. And I felt aggrieved.

Which was a perfectly human response.

Just not a very helpful one.

After all, I talk to people about how to respond to this sort of thing. I include reference to it in presentations. I write about it.

So this was where the rubber hit the road, so to speak.

What’s the advice I give others?

Like others who specialisz in consulting or coaching in the field of blogging and other social media, my response to questions and concerns about critical comments on business blogs has been along the lines of:

  • it goes with being part of the conversation
  • people are talking about you and your company anyway (or you hope they are!) so you are just hearing what is already being said
  • by dealing with criticism openly,  you help your clients, your market get a sense of what you stand for, your principles
  • you also get the opportunity to put your side of the conversation, not letting it go by default

I believe those points are all valid. But they are just principles, guides. Dealing with the actual experience means that I and other business bloggers need to take account not just of the theory – our logical response –  but of our emotional response. A test of our emotional intelligence (EQ) if you will.

So after these reflections, I left a response to the comment, seeking clarification. There has been no reply yet and somehow I feel there will not be one.

I’m actually grateful to the commenter. His comment argued (if I understood it correctly) that my posts should offer more value for readers. Working on that can’t be a bad thing, just as getting over the dent to my pride can’t be a bad thing.

And on the bigger picture of offering my services to help businesses understand and manage the blog-enabled conversations, I believe what I’m learning from this experience will help me be more genuinely and helpfully sympathetic the next time the issue of critical comments is raised.

Picture credit: kretyen, via Flicker – Creative Commons licence

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About Des Walsh

I show business owners and other professionals how to navigate the social media maze and use LinkedIn effectively. I'm an author, speaker, business coach, social media strategist and LinkedIn specialist. Connect with me on LinkedIn, Google Plus and Twitter. And to stay in the loop, get my weekly Social Business Bites.


  1. John

    I appreciate your comment and intended to respond sooner.

    Thought of those options. Decided that what was more interesting for me was to observe my own kneejerk reaction and ponder about that and what it said about the value of the sort of advice I give others.

    As to your observation that this site is for people who are both successful and also novices, that is true. And I try not to forget that I was a total “noob” myself once and used to get very frustrated with blogs that used a lot of jargon and insider language.

  2. Hi Des, it’s certainly an odd comment and if it were me I’d have considered deleting it as I don’t see any relevance in it to the post re the launch of the SMC site. I’d have probably emailed the commenter to ask what was on his/her mind. As I see it your site is for people who are both successful and also novice in the field, so in that context the comment doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

  3. Thanks Sandy
    I was wondering about sharing this. Your comment makes me feel very happy that I did.

  4. Wow, great post! I have had similar instances and it is very difficult at first to put aside our hurt when someone seemingly attacks the work we do, or even us personally. I know I have had to bite my tongue a couple of times and like you did here, just ask for clarification in what the writer is saying. The written word can be a funny thing, what the writer meant and what we read might just be two completely different things!

    Sandys last blog post..Treat Your Business, Like a Business if You Want to Succeed