Taking Criticism Happily – Trajan King

Taking Criticism Happily

As your company, website and personal wealth grows, you’ll start to get more and more feedback.  Some of it solicited (after all, you can use feedback to your advantage to learn and grow), but most of it will just come in without asking. So what do I mean by taking criticism happily?

Most of it will be positive, but some of it will be hard to take.  Once in a while, you’ll get a mean comment or someone making fun of you. That’s the nature of internet trolls.  However, buried in the seeming brutality of those comments can be useful feedback.  You just have to ignore the comments that aren’t useful and pick out the ones that can really help you improve.

When someone comments that they don’t like your hair, your shirt, or something about you, ignore it.  When someone says they don’t like something about your content or message or the ways it’s delivered, instead of being offended, take a second and think about what they said.  If you evaluate those kinds of constructive comments and not take them personally, you can use them to make your content better and better.

That can be taken to the extreme and we can be tempted to change something every time someone comments, which would take us off course from our plan.  Just take comments and feedback in stride and use them to your advantage to improve on the execution of your plan.

Determine who they are

It’s important to first try to figure out who they are. Are they angry customers or just someone who wants attention? Are they trying to help you or provoke you? There’s an easy way to tell. If they try to bait you with exaggerated or inflammatory language or accusations or make it a personal attack, then you can safely dismiss them and their opinion. Also, for some reason trolls can’t spell or use proper grammar, so look out for that.

Minimize the trolls

If you get a lot of trolls who are just taking up time and space, there are some steps you can take to minimize their influence. First of all, engaging with trolls just encourages them and makes the matter worse. They want engagement and controversy. It’s so tempting to gather your facts and logical arguments and post a response, but it does little good. If Facebook discussions have taught me anything it’s that people don’t let facts get in the way of their opinions. So save yourself a lot of time and emotion and just don’t engage.

Second, don’t give them a place to comment. You may have noticed that newspapers online used to offer comments sections. Most of them don’t anymore because it just gave trolls a platform to harass the writers and other readers. A lot of large comments sections quickly devolve into fights about politics, which is likely not what you want in your comments section.

If you like having comments enabled on your website or run a Facebook group that allows and encourages open posting, then consider asking trusted members of your community to moderate the forums. Either require all posts to be approved or have these members look out for nasty posts and delete them. That allows the good members to have useful, open communication while restricting the bad actors.

Use humor

If you just can’t help yourself and need to respond, take a lesson from JK Rowling, and use a bit of humor to diffuse the situation.

taking criticism online

Be kind

When I was in Jr. High a group of kids decided they didn’t like me and started harassing me. Initially, I reacted by being unkind back to them. Obviously, that didn’t work. I went home and told my dad about my problem and he told me something that has helped me ever since any time I’ve encountered a nasty person. He said,

The best way to defeat an enemy is to make them your friend. Click To Tweet

So I went back to school the next day with a new attitude. Soon one of them hit me in the back of the head and I turned around and calmly asked why he did that? That wasn’t a reaction he was expected. He was looking for a fight. It took him off guard. Over the course of a couple of weeks, I went out of my way to be kind to each of them and before long we were all friends.

Sometimes people just need to be heard, whether it’s in person or online. Especially if it’s a customer. They just want to air their grievance and frustration and know someone is there to listen. So take time to determine if it’s a customer or potential customer who has something they need to say or something you need to hear or if it’s just a nasty person who can’t be reasoned with and who you can ignore. Taking criticism happily isn’t easy, but if you do, at the very least you’ll learn something and maybe end up with a new friend.

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CFO & former Wall Street analyst helping your reach financial independence.

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Trajan King

Hey hey. I'm Trajan. I'm a minimalist entrepreneur who loves exploring the world (42 countries), learning new things (7 languages) and trying to get better every day (working on my backsquat).

I write about entrepreneurship and building an optimized and happy life through systems, good habits and scientific research.

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