How Do You Respond To Negative Feed Back?


How do I respond to negative feedback?

One simple but strong word springs to mind as a response to this question:  I DON’T.  I have finally become smart enough to understand that the best response to angry, negative feedback is not to respond at all.

Why?

I can repeat or clarify a misunderstanding. I can attempt to reconcile opposing viewpoints but usually someone who is closed to any other opinion is the very person to write a negative response. If they refuse to engage in positive dialogue, I don’t bother bashing my head against the wall.

Often an angry person wants to engage in a verbal fight. In fact he is purposefully antagonizing me. After living with teenagers, my husband and I quickly learned how to diffuse angry confrontations because they were  unproductive. Angry feedback always reminds me of teenage outbursts. Here is a typical encounter at our house a few years ago.

One of my sons , in his early teens, had just announced that he could not stand living under our roof another minute,
“I’m out of here!”, he bellowed, “and don’t expect me to come back!”
The door slammed and he tore off on his ten speed bike. Of course my father was visiting and saw this dramatic episode. After a few minutes,  my dad turned to my husband and wondered,
” Aren’t you going to go after him?”
Michael calmly kept reading, then looked up and explained,
“Oh, I’m not worried. The only place near enough to bike to is one of his buddy’s and they don’t feed kids over there. He’ll be back when he is hungry enough.”
No need to over-react. No need to lecture or argue. Just let nature take its course. Most importantly. Do not take angry reactions personally. Most negative feedback says more about the person commenting and his own emotions and reactions than it does about my article.
 Why is he so angry?
He is not really critiquing your writing style, content or conclusions, especially if a vehement response attacks you, the writer. That is just the release valve which is handy at the moment. My words triggered a dramatic attack because the commentator has issues. Issues that lay buried until some unsuspecting scapegoat like me pushes his buttons.
I refuse to play those games.
Silence is often a better teacher than any ‘wisdom’  I could spout.
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14 thoughts on “How Do You Respond To Negative Feed Back?

  1. Such a fab post! You’re absolutely right. I don’t tend to get much negative feedback – at least not right to my face. I think I frighten people too much. Not really the attitude I’m going for, but…

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  2. I agree with you, don’t bother responding. I have been blogging since March, and have had only one person who wrote very very angry and nasty.. I do a craft blog featuring my cards, so who would think anyone would find something negative to write, but….. telling me my work is not good etc, and just plain mean spirited. I have blocked her, as I don’t have time for it. Funny thing, blogging has been such a positive experience to me, only one nasty person and thousands of nice ones. Thanks for the reminder not to fuel the negativity.

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  3. Ah, my biggest flaw is that I do react to negativity. It is something I know so very well that I need to work on. Good for you and your husband for not taking the bait with your son. Was this something learned through trial and error or were you just blessed with patience?

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    1. I was uptight with my first two but the more you crack down, disapprove, lecture the more they pull away,, most mistakes are not life threatening or they won’t ruin their futures.. classes can be made up, etc, Sometimes teens behave better with an aunt or uncl and actually do everything you could ever desire because mum is not there goading them.

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  4. It’s true, it is best to just keep quiet in those situations, or at least to choose your words very carefully, if you say the wrong thing it will likely play over and over again in their head as more fuel for the fire, but if you say nothing, they only have their words to consider.

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