Handling criticism, part 2

In the previous blog entry, I introduced some general ideas about how to deal with the online criticism that some people will inevitably throw at your business, followed by an example of a recent exchange of mine.

This time, I’m going to lay out all the steps I used, in order, so that you can use them too when you’re confronted with problematic comments or reviews.


The last thing you want to do is misunderstand someone, because if you quickly shoot back with something irrelevant or inappropriate, it just makes your situation worse. It’s a mistake to think that every negative comment is an attempt at trolling. Many of them are not.


Once you believe you understand the other person, it’s time to ask at least a question or two. They could well have a serious issue that you had no idea existed, and it takes questioning to bring this kind of thing out into the open. Ignore what they have to say and the issue persists. Not a good idea.

Remember in the previous example when I was accused of running a scam. I asked what I was promising, and not delivering, in the ad that got Ken so worked up. It pays to ask things like this. He may have spotted something unintentional that I could have easily changed. In this case, he hadn’t, but it’s still important to make sure you don’t miss the opportunity.

Set boundaries

Some people are very quick to personalize criticism and conclude that it has to be a reflection on them, somehow. In reality, that’s almost never the case when someone is criticizing or reviewing a business.

It’s about your site, not about you.

Don’t be negative, unless you can make it funny

Actually, if you’re a basically serious type, don’t even try to be funny in the positive parts of your response. If you’re sure that you have a good sense of humor – and that most people who know you agree – then you can venture into joke territory. It’s more important to be true to your voice.

That said, a well-played line can go a long way toward diffusing a tense situation. This sandwich board is one of the best example’s I’ve ever seen.


If all else fails, block them!

Genuine trolls will get tedious, repeat themselves, and provide no useful feedback at all. You’re much too busy to waste any more time with these types. Get them off your screen.

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