Dealing With Negative Reviews
I had a reader email me with:
Hi! I have a suggestion for you to write about on your blog. How to recover from a negative review? […] It hurt, especially since some very valid points were made.
This will happen if you make anything. I’ve written harsh criticism, and have received harsh criticism.
There are a few points, some ways of reacting that I’ve seen and some that I’ve done:
- You can leave the review alone. Don’t comment, don’t look, don’t link to it, just walk away.
- You can thank the reviewer for taking the time to review. That’s all. Just thank, say nothing else.
- You can engage with the reviewer on the points brought up. If you do this, start by thanking the reviewer.
The first one is easy, and with some particularly inflammatory reviews that’s best. If they linked to you, they’re helping your SEO ranking. You don’t have to return that favor.
The second one is a personal favorite for dealing with trolls, but it’s also good for just being charitable toward someone. And you look classy for it.
The third is dangerous ground. If the person on the other end is reasonable and respectful during the conversation, and you are as well, then it can be fruitful. But know that you’re not just conversing with that person, but any onlookers who may chime in. And they might not be respectful of the attempt at civil discourse. Sometimes great fruit bears from that, other times it’s a waste of your energy. Just be aware of that.
No matter what you do about it, once you can get some emotional distance away, look over the points. There may be wisdom there you can use in your next project or how you continue forward with this one. Sometimes it’s something you can correct now, and sometimes it’s just something you can do in future works.
Finally, if you can’t say something nice, don’t engage. Otherwise you look like a petty asshole, and you can’t delete your comments on someone else’s space. And fuck help you if that person has really strong SEO, where Google searches for your name lead to that negative review where you show your petty side. Because you’re not being nice for their benefit. You’ve being nice for yours.
I know I’m not the only person who has had to deal with this. Creator-types: any other tips to share?
 And received bullshit name-calling and ad hominem attacks, which is not criticism. Perhaps I’ll write on that later, but that’s not what this post is about.