"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Blog "Hecklers"? 6 Ways to Show Class When Comments are Crass!

Guest Post by: Alexis Bonari

No one is immune to criticism. By the very nature of our occupations, bloggers, writers, and other creative types perhaps know this best of all. We hope that when we hit the publish button, something miraculous will happen and nobody—nobody—will hurl a single rotten tomato.

But when it hits, it hits hard. Every time.
So, in those moments we hear and feel nothing but our own pulse in our ears and the blood rushing to our cheeks, how do we deal with criticism?

1. Count to ten.
Mama was right about some things. Shut your eyes, step away from your computer, and walk away. Go walk the dog, take a shower while blasting angry music and belting the lyrics at the top of your lungs, and then chill out with some yoga.

2. Suspend the urge to get defensive. Remember that the same thing that made the critical remark so hurtful—that it was made publicly in a comment thread, a forum, or a blog post—is true for you, too. Your impulse to angrily respond, should you choose to act on it, will be public. This will reflect poorly on you. Even if your response is witty and snarky, someone will be unhappy to see it.

3. Remember that there’s a person behind the name "Anonymous". Nobody walks around with a digital blur for a face. Remember that there may be a reason why unhappy commenters are unhappy. Maybe they just got laid off from work. Maybe a friend of theirs was diagnosed with a serious illness. Think about the times you said things that were hurtful and the reasons you did it. Try to find a link between yourself and the critic.

4. Glean nuggets of truth from the criticism. We can either be victims or volunteers. Even if the criticism was made in poor taste, there might have been a point that stood to be made. Seize the opportunity to not only take the high road and maintain your poise, but also learn how to improve your craft.

5. Thank them for their criticism. The best thing to do when someone’s being nasty is to smile at them. It’s disarming. It’s humbling. It can be frustrating, but anything the other party does in poor taste afterward just comes across as unnecessary and mean-spirited. Few other critics will want to jump on that bandwagon. So, humbly thank them for the criticism and try to initiate a civil and honest dialogue. The second part is what keeps it feeling like you’re rolling over and showing your belly.

6. Some people just don’t want to play nice. That’s not your problem. It’s theirs. It’s best to ignore them at that point and move on with your day. More than likely, you have a hundred positive remarks on your blog for every random, nasty comment. If you’re still having trouble cooling off, force yourself to smile. Even a fake smile releases the same chemicals in your brain as a real one!

Bio: Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and researcher for College Scholarships, where recently she’s been researching scholarships for returning students as well as scholarships for social workers. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

Okay, spill the beans. Readers, how do you deal with negativity and name calling regarding your creative efforts? Anybody have any experience in this area?

Image:photographer photostock


  1. sigh....this can be hard to do, but i will try

  2. Sisi Yemmie,

    Then I take it you've had it happen too? Do tell. :-)

  3. I'd like to thank Alexis for this clever post. In fact, I had intended to post a similar piece on the same topic. Really. :-)

    I confess that I have had "hecklers" before. And I admit that it can be a challenge.

    My response depends on two things: whether it's "constructive" or "cruel", and whether the person "knows" me.

    Sometimes I "take the high road". Sometimes, well...let's just say it could get very interesting. :-)

    I believe that even blog commenting should display a certain decorum.

  4. Great advice! Easier to dispense than abide by for some. I try not to stoop to anyone's
    "level". My advice is kill them with kindness. When an agent snapped at me for using a particular word, I smiled and thanked this person for enlightening me. The agent didn't know what to say when I refused to retort.

  5. Jennifer Brown BanksMay 1, 2011 at 9:07 AM


    I feel you on this one. But, like I said sometimes it depends on who it is and whether or not I'm in a "charitable" mood that day. :-)

  6. Wonderful points! Grace under fire - that's how I view these kinds of challenges. I want to step away from them knowing I acted above board and with class.

    Thank you, Jennifer and Alexis. I appreciate this.
    Have a great week,
    Karen :)

  7. Jennifer Brown BanksMay 2, 2011 at 4:49 AM


    Wonderful perspective. Thanks for sharing it!

  8. Hi Jennifer! I have rarely had hecklers on my own blog, but I have had them when I've posted for online magazines and guest posts. Sometimes you have people that are just looking for attention (though they do go by Anonymous a lot). Thanks for posting this!

  9. Jennifer Brown BanksMay 3, 2011 at 5:30 AM

    Hi Bryan,

    Good point. Thanks for sharing and for stopping by. :-)

  10. Thanks so much for the feedback. And I'm grateful - no hecklers, at least not yet!

    I do like Linda's idea of killing them with kindness. It's easy to deal with people sometimes by just being very nice and leaving it at that, despite how hostile they are being!

  11. It's hard to not get defensive but I think you're right that it will ultimately look bad for you.

  12. Jennifer Brown BanksMay 11, 2011 at 4:40 PM

    I think it depends on what you say and how you say it. :-) Thanks 4 sharing your perspective.

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