Alt Chat Wednesday: Handling Negative Comments and Criticism


By: Eden Hensley; Photos by: Brooke Dennis and Justin Hackworth for Alt Summit

Growing up we’re told: if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all. With the perceived anonymity of the Internet, the art of constructive feedback has all but vanished, replaced by personal attacks and criticism.

A public figure or social media influencer has “arrived” when they become a magnet for such negativity. So how would you deal with it? Simply delete the personal attack? Ignore it?


Extend a Helping Hand

Heather Armstrong of Dooce recommended a different approach for dealing with critics (as well as trolls) in her Alt Summer 2015 opening keynote (watch now).

  1. Ignore it; don’t seek it out. Delete the bad comments. Stop reading a bad email and delete it.
  2. Remember the negativity is about them; they are hurting and are looking for ways to feel better.
  3. Stop being defensive and don’t take it personally.
  4. Honor that it hurts you.
  5. Imagine extending your hand across the table to them and ask, “Where are you hurting? Where is your pain?” If bashing me, takes away your pain, I’m going to give that to you.

Could you adopt Heather’s approach? Can you find the humanity in your enemy?

Join the Conversation on Twitter

Let’s chat Wednesday July 22, 2015 at 9AM PDT/12PM EDT on Twitter about strategies and techniques for handling both negative comments and criticism. New to Twitter chats? You can find all the details on how to participate in a live Twitter chat here.

Suggest a Topic for a Future Alt Chat

Got a topic you’d like to see covered in a future Alt Chat? Comment below or send Eden an email.

Currently in queue we have Newsletters: Building Your Subscriber List; Is Doing It All the New Having It All: A Tale of Balance and Time Management; Intentional Content: Using an Editorial Calendar to Set Expectations; Growing Your Business: What Is/Isn’t Working; The Art of the Pitch and Media Kits; Community: Building Online and Offline.


Eden Hensley

Marketing creative, community engagement specialist, technophile, photographer, food and wine enthusiast, and the founder and editor-in-chief of The Road to The Good Life, a lifestyle blog about appreciating and enhancing your life by being grateful for the "haves" instead of lingering on the "wants." There you will find personal stories about my life and family weaved in with real-life, achievable entertaining tips, recipes for hearty home cooked meals, and DIY projects for capturing and sharing memories. I believe the best place to swap stories is over a shared meal, preferably a Thai-meal served family style, and teach an online introduction class to Thai Flavors and host the Family Dinners at The Station supper club in San Francisco.