The Internet is great for a lot of things. You’re able to create and consume content. There are pretty much three forms with video, audio and text. People are creating, consuming and engaging in all three at record numbers.
In my estimation it’s mostly positive. If you put positivity out into the world you’re going to get mostly positivity back. The Internet is just like face-to-face interaction. If you wave to 100 people you’re probably going to get 99 waves back and maybe a different gesture on the 100th.
That’s just the way it is.
It’s that negative interaction, though, that can stick with you. And online it seems to really get to certain people.
Here are a few thoughts on dealing with negative comments online…
1. Know Your Intentions
If you’re trying to do good with your online content you have to give yourself some slack. You’re not going to create only amazing, great content. Sometimes you’ll have clunkers. And any type of content is subjective, anyway. So not everybody is going to like it. When that happens most won’t say anything. But some will want their voice to be heard.
If you let it get to you it will likely lead you to stop. But if you know that your goal is to bring value to others and to continually improve upon those efforts, you know you’re doing good and the positive comments will come.
2. Know Their Intentions
There is a weird thing about the human brain. We feel accomplished by pointing out mistakes. It’s not true, but it can make people feel good about what they’re doing and that seems to occur online sometimes.
I’ve found that just understanding this can help with negative comments.
In a similar brain pattern, some people feel they are helping you by pointing out your mistakes. Or by pointing out how they feel you could do better.
Understanding this can help you see their comments not as mean spirited, but actually helpful, even if it doesn’t feel that way.
Obviously there are times when someone just wants a reaction. They say something inflammatory just for the reaction. There is no better way to handle these than to ignore. Just like someone calling you a name on the playground back in childhood.
3. Front Door Policy
Your website. Your blog. Your social profile. You may decide to treat these things just like your home. If someone came to your front door with insults, negativity or whatever, you probably wouldn’t let them inside. And you can do the same.
It’s okay to delete comments. It’s okay to ignore comments. If you’re replying to negative comments online you’re taking time and energy away from creating more blog posts, videos and podcasts.
4. Reward With Response
If you do choose to engage with comments, which can be a great thing, I would encourage you to reward those that bring positivity or at least those that bring value to the content. It’s okay if someone points out something that can help the situation. You can interact with them.
But look for the ones that are positive. Engage with those. Train yourself to look for the people that like what you’re doing. Pay attention to what they say and what they want and then do more of what they want.
Sometimes commenters online just want a reaction. If you engage with the negative, you’re giving them what they want and it encourages them to come back for more.
But the same is true for the positive. Engage and it encourages more.
5. Selective Use
Tiger Woods has worked with golf instructors for seemingly his entire golf career. He has also said that he has learned a lot from other pros. But Tiger has often mentioned the caveat that he takes in as much information as he can. And of that 100%, he considers about 5% of it. And he probably tests and puts into use less than 1% of it.
That’s a great attitude to have for online commenting and engagement. You can listen to it. Take it in. Read it or whatever. But make quick decisions about it. Let most of it go. Maybe take a little extra time to digest 5% of it.
And then have a rule that you’re only going to make changes based on less than 1% of it.
Even if 100% of the comments were good, you still wouldn’t have time to test and implement all those changes. So it’s good to pick and choose.
It’s no fun to read a negative comment. You can learn from it. It can be a positive thing. But understand what you’re trying to do. Work toward improvement in whatever you’re doing. Feel good about your intentions and keep on working. And if you have some time work on reinforcing the positive and the constructive. This will feed more of that and will stifle much of the negative.