The Art Of Reacting To Criticizing Comments

Getting comments from people makes many bloggers happy. Increasing number of comments usually shows that the number of people reading your blog is increasing. You will, however, run into comments from time to time that criticize what you have to say. People may disagree with your opinions, or they may be offended by what you suggest through your writing. If you can plan out any reactions you may have to comments that criticize you or your blog, you will win over people who may not agree with what you have to say. I would like to talk and share with you an important concept that helps me everyday with this. I call it “The Art Of Reacting To Criticizing Comments.

Online, it is easy to criticize others as people can simply say “that’s not true” and move on to other websites, leaving you with the burden of dealing with a disagreement that is probably visible to everyone else who comes to your site. Many bloggers usually feel the need to respond to all disagreeing comments, even if they have the habit of not responding to most of the comments their blog gets. The Art Of Reacting To Criticizing Comments helps you realize if you should react to comments, why you want to react to comments, and how you should react to comments.

Think well before reacting to criticizing comments

If you are being criticized in any manner, many people will usually expect you to respond right away. Do not focus on such people; focus on the criticism and your thoughts. Take your time to think before reacting. You have to figure out if your reaction is even necessary in the first place. Sometimes people simply say things and do not expect you to disagree with them as those people may simply be expressing something without intending to criticize you.

If you are sure that you are being criticized through a comment and that you must respond to such a comment, think well and take your time before even planning out your reaction, unless you are short on time. Plan out your words if you have to. You want to express your opinion and also want people to feel less defensive when dealing with you. Your reactions to criticizing comments have more power to destroy your reputation or make passionate admirers than most other elements in your blogging and socializing style.

What do you want to accomplish through your response to a criticizing comment?

Before you start typing out your response defending what you said and criticizing the person who criticized you, think about what you want to accomplish through your response to a comment that disagrees with you. When you figure out the goals you wish to accomplish through your response, you can easily come up with a good response to any disagreeing comment you may receive. Following are some of the common questions bloggers can consider when they respond to people who criticize their opinions.

Some questions to help you figure out your goal when responding to criticizing comments:

  • Do I want to make friends out of enemies?

    If you want to win over the people who criticize you, you have to respond in such a way that does not offend the people who are already criticizing you. At the same time, you have to make them understand your side of the story.

  • Do I want to show that I am right and others are wrong?

    If you want to show that you stand by what you said and that the people criticizing you are the ones that should be criticized for being wrong, you have to respond in a way that shows you are right while also proving that the other person is wrong.

    As with all other goals, be very careful with this choice, as people may feel offended even more because of being told that they are wrong.

  • Do I want to show that I realize any mistake I may have made in my initial assumptions?

    If you want to show that you realize you may have made a mistake, you have to respond in a way that acknowledges the other person being right while showing how you realized you were wrong.

  • Do I want to acknowledge that other people may be right in their own perspective and that I may be right at the same time in my own view?

    A unique thing you can do is to show others that they can have an opinion that is valid while you can also have an opinion that is valid at the same time. You should only do this when you know how to back up such a claim, as providing insufficient evidence with such a tactic shows that you are unwilling to admit your mistake even when you realize the other person is right.

When you realize what you wish to accomplish in your response to someone who is criticizing you, you can easily focus on things that are important to the issue at hand. This will allow you to focus on the elements that can avoid any unnecessary confrontations with people who disagree with you.

3 Common ways to react to online criticism

When you find out what you wish to accomplish through your response, you can then decide how you wish to accomplish writing such a response. Usually there are 3 main ways you can write a response to any criticizing comment: attacking people back, telling people to understand your opinion, and simply observing and acknowledging that other people can have different opinions. Each one is discussed as follows:

  1. Reacting by attacking the commentor

    One of the ways to react with people who criticize you is to criticize them back. Usually, when you think you are saying something that is justified, you may want to show others how they are wrong and you are right. Such a reaction is powerful since it shows people that you are willing to disagree with people. However, if not done correctly, it may show your readers that you do not respect any criticism.

    This is what the famous site “The Consumerist” did recently when people started criticizing it over its habit of using people’s pictures without their permission. Ben Popken, representing The Consumerist, responded back by criticizing the people who did not want their photos published without permission. What was the result? Many people started losing their faith in the site, and the entire image of The Consumerist got a dark stain that will stick around and be brought up for a while. Why? Because such a comment by Ben on behalf of The Consumerist implies that people who think differently are not welcome to that site, something which I discussed in my last article called “5 Myths of Personal Blogs.”

    While such a reaction can show your authority and also explain why you are passionate about the things you believe in, this reaction can also alienate you from your readers if people misinterpret your reaction and think that you are simply trying to show that others are wrong.

  2. Reacting by going after the criticizing comment

    Another way of reacting to criticizing comments and to show that you are right is to stick to discussing the comment in question and criticizing the very comment that criticizes you, instead of criticizing the commentor. When you go after the issue at hand and not the other person, you open up ways where people will feel less defensive and will be able to admit their mistakes easily if they were wrong even a little bit. Like I said before, disagree with arguments, not with people who argue.

    This is what Valerie does for some of the comments that attack her personally because of her popular post titled “Why Geek Squad, Best Buy, and Compaq all suck.” She sometimes responds to criticizing comments that try to construe the facts, or focus on irrelevant issues, by sticking to the facts. Thus, she is able to not only show that she is right, but she also focuses on facts to ensure that people realize that this is something that should be decided based on facts, and not personal emotions.

    By focusing on the facts of the issue instead of the people, you are making any argument less personal, and therefore allowing other people to be less defensive. Such a reaction can show people that you are willing to listen to others and are willing to explain your opinion to others. This will result in people wanting to explain their feelings also, resulting in a small discussion type thing where things will slowly focus on discussing different aspects about the topic in question in order to come to a mutual understanding.

  3. Reacting by maintaining a distance

    This is the 3rd most common reaction I see on blogs. If someone leaves you a comment that criticizes you or your post personally, you can also react by not responding to most of the negative comments you get and focus on only a few comments in order to show the general public that you respect other peoples opinions. Such an acknowledgment on your part simply disarms people who may be offended by something you wrote.

    This is the stance that I think Ronald took most of the time when many people got upset over his post titled “Things You Should Avoid Blogging About.” Instead of attacking people personally the way he was attacked by many people due to that post, he simply stayed away from the situation and maintained a distance. The issue was related to what he had written and not him, so slowly people started focusing more and more on the topic at hand and less on the author himself.

    By simply acknowledging that different opinions exist and not defending yourself, you can show others that you understand why other people are criticizing you, and at the same time, you acknowledge that you respect them even if you do not like their comments. People will respect you for that.

In addition to the above 3 usual types of reactions to criticizing comments, you can come up with other types of reactions, or combine any of the above three together in order to come up with your own special reaction.

Learning the art of responding to criticizing comments can help you learn and will also earn you more admirers

Unless you are looking to pick a fight, you should try to respond to criticizing comments only when you yourself are calm. You can be calm and at the same time be criticizing others as a response to their criticizing comments. You should plan out your reaction to such people and their comments, figure out what you want to achieve and carry out your response effectively to make sure you achieve what you set as a goal for your reaction. “The Art of Reacting to Criticizing Comments” can hopefully help you treat every criticizing comment can as an opportunity to solve conflicts and create good examples for others to follow.

What is your opinion about this? How do you deal with people who criticize you and what you have to say on your blog?