How to Handle Negative Feedback

I got this email yesterday regarding Tell Your Time:

To Whom It May Concern,

I recently purchased To Tell Your Time and honestly was very disappointed with my purchase. It wasn’t even that no new information was presented. I simply didn’t feel that I received any helpful information at all. I would greatly appreciate a refund.

Thank you,
[name removed]

Ouch, right?

Or is it?

Well, I won’t lie — it stung when I first read it. But then I remembered two excellent posts I came across this week that I highly recommend:

  1. Quit giving the haters PhDs (update: post no longer exists) by Jon Acuff
  2. Priceless Lessons Learned from Scathing 1-Star Reviews on Amazon at Copyblogger

Both posts acknowledge that it’s not fun to get negative feedback, but once the initial sting subsides, there can be much to gain.

Don’t let negative feedback cause you to draw false conclusions

Jon said,

If someone gives me a compliment, the voices inside immediately tell me, “That person’s opinion doesn’t count. They don’t know what they’re talking about. You can’t trust those words. Brush it off. Discount it and dismiss it before it has a chance to land on your heart.”

If someone insults me or hates on me though, I tend to do just the opposite. “Wait a second, this guy, this guy who said something bad about me, he knows what he’s talking about. He’s smart, he’s got me pegged. I should really take this guy’s words to heart. I should really mull over those words and consider them. This guy gets me.”

Raise your hand if you can relate! 🙂

The negative comments are giants in our minds and we quickly sweep the positive comments right out the window.

Heed the negative for sure, but those positive comments should be part of the mix too, not so we end up with an inflated view of ourselves, but a balanced view of ourselves.

Use negative feedback to catapult you to new growth

In Priceless Lessons Learned from Scathing 1-Star Reviews on Amazon, Julien Smith says,

But here’s the thing: much as they can hurt, those 1-star reviews have made me a better writer.

Julien gives several examples of how this plays out (read the whole post here).

When the constructive (or not-so constructive) criticism comes, don’t melt into a puddle of despair. Find the nuggets of gold hiding within and leave the rest.

27 thoughts on “How to Handle Negative Feedback”

  1. I don’t get a lot of negative comments on my blog…it is like pulling teeth to get my readers to comment at all! My experience with criticism has come from 40+ years as a pastor’s wife. For the most part, I can’t complain, but criticism has come over the years. The hardest kind is that against my husband, of course. But I’ve gotten some too. It rarely comes to my face unfortunately. It goes through a string of people and I end up hearing it without the opportunity to question the critique-ers.
    It is very easy to critique. Standing on the sidelines, watching people work and analyzing what or how they are doing it wrong! Anyone can do that.
    Those who can give constructive criticism are worth their weight in gold. You know they are for you. You know they will cheer you on and encourage you in whatever you are going to do…often, they will work right along with you!
    The difficulty comes in learning to take the criticism, no matter how poorly given, as from our Sovereign heavenly Father. There is often a grain of truth in the tactless criticism that we need to consider…and change. Oh yes, as a side benefit, we often get to learn a little humility (rarely a bad thing!).

  2. Sometimes I don’t think I have the backbone to be a big time blogger. Even being small potatoes right now, I hold my breath and hope that noone flames me or points out my inadequacies just about every single day.

    That’s no way to live, and I know I need to build up my confidence. That’s why I LOVED Jon Acuff’s post when I read it the other day. I give entirely too much credit to those who don’t like me, than I ignore the people that think I’m great. Why should I focus my efforts on people that clearly don’t think I matter, and ignore those that truly care for me? Strange how we let these mind games play out…

    So as of right now, I handle negative feedback (which thankfully has been far and few between) by fretting and crying about it. In the future though, I hope to brush it off and focus on those who have been with me from day 1 and care about what I’m doing and care about me. I may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but obviously some people like what I’m doing and THOSE are the people that matter.

    Great post Amy. Per usual 😉

    1. I hear what you’re saying but I do think it gets easier over time (not that I’m a big time blogger by any means!!). I know for myself, I often lack in the confidence department. I think sometimes the best way to change that is to simply look ahead and push through.

      1. I think sometimes the neg comments are a little funny.. I recently had one in which someone was trying to print a coupon and it was not working.

        She emailed me very upset and that it was causing too much DRAMA in her life..

        I wanted to say, ‘Lady, if that is the biggest drama in your life.. I want your life :)”


  3. There is one other thing to consider.. there are people out there who perpetually purchase digital products (like ebooks), complain about them and ask for a refund..

    that may not have been the case here (but maybe it was).


    1. Sadly, that’s true, although, in my experience, people who choose to do so are part of a very small minority. In the meantime, the rest of us will continue to enjoy great digital products and the people who create them — I know I will! 🙂

  4. I heard a great quote last night on K-LOVE while I was driving home. “Don’t let people’s compliments go to your head and don’t let their criticism go to your heart.” Like you said, we need to have a balanced view of ourselves!

    (And for what’s its worth, I also really enjoyed your Tell Your Time! :-))


  5. I have read “tell your time” Amy and I liked it, I liked the way it was presented, I like your style. It spoke to me, as my opinion will be disregarded I will go on to say I’d like to see more ebooks from you.

    I know the feeling well, and sometimes the feedback does hurt. I got my ebook edited and then put it up for sale. A copywriter read it and found all the things my editor missed, I felt terrible. But I put it right. They were right, my trust in my editors a fraction misplaced. Didn’t make it hurt any less.

    1. I appreciate your encouragement, Sarah, and with regards to your ebook, I know I (and I’m sure many others) can relate.

  6. Amy, I can totally relate to how you felt. Been there. Not fun.

    But I purchased your e-book a couple of days ago, devoured it in one sitting, implemented everything you said the very next day, and plan to do the affliate thing because it helped me so much. I can’t wait to tell others how wonderful it is.

    I know that isn’t the point of your post, but just wanted you to know that person’s opinion is only that- one person’s opinion.

  7. I didn’t read that as something from a ‘hater’ so much as something from someone who didn’t find what you produced as useful for them and they asked for a refund. I’ve seen ‘haters’ – this person was far too polite to be stuck with that stigma!

    1. Oh I definitely agree, Barbara. I would not call the email I received hateful nor the sender a hater by any means (that was just Jon Acuff’s term). I’ve definitely encountered some haters in my blogging career (on one of my other blogs, someone said to me, “I hope you die in a fire”) so this was a far cry from that obviously! I appreciate you pointing that out.

  8. Amy,
    I find it hard to spend time on negative criticism that’s not constructive. If the person who wrote that letter didn’t take the time to tell you what they were trying to learn from the book, or a positive point of the book, I would ignore the letter completely. Some people just need to be negative.


  9. Thanks for sharing this Amy. One thing for sure negative comments do sting. But thats life for you Army people ar born different some always see negative some always see positive.

    On another note Amy you are really doing a great job I was introduced to you by one of your friends, Crystal Paine of You have really equiped me with information I am now using to build my Blog. I am glad i fould at the right time just when i needed you.

  10. Those negative comments do sting. I know from personal experience. It can be hard to move on from it with my day. I really think that people can be more inclined to make mean hearted comments due to perceived anonymity online.

    Thanks for the links to those articles. (-: I think you are such an amazing person, and your book really did change my life personally. I am so glad that you wrote the book! So, I am glad that you can look at it as constructive criticism, although with that note, I didn’t really see much constructive.

    I agree, I would offer a refund and just move on. I think it is one persons opinion, and if I have learned one thing, I can’t please everyone. I can please the majority, but there will always be a few people out there that will never be satisfied, and I am trying to kind of brush off their comments unless there is something to be learned from them.

    I hope that you have a great day, Amy!

  11. Oh my gosh! That is all so true!! I never realized that I automatically associate criticism with superiority. Thinking that there is something seriously wrong with me, notwithstanding, I am going to use this to change my attitude. Thank you for sharing the “sting,” you received, but know that you really helped someone out there. Thanks!

  12. I’ve been fortunate enough to have only had one negative comment regarding my workshops, seminars, or books, but I’ve had several when a media outlet has done a story.

    However, I’ve watched many bloggers get ostracized over absolutely nothing- a simple lifestyle difference or even misuse of a word in a post. I really feel like people are more comfortable complaining to an ‘online person’ as opposed to a ‘real person’.

    The confusion I have with your comment is that it’s very similar to the one negative one I received. The issuer is stating that you simply restated information she already knew. That’s all fine and dandy, but how on earth were you (or we) to gauge what the reader already knew?

    My only negative comment was regarding one of my Ultimate Couponing I workshops. I’ve taught over 500 workshops to over 6,000 people and most look stricken when they leave because I’ve prevented so much. My negative commenter spent the entire class talking loudly to her friend and drawing dirty pictures. No one else could even hear me. I ended up casually sauntering over there to stand between them. Instead of contacting me directly, she posted her ‘disappointment’ on my fan page. Her stance was that she knew everything I presented and that I should have let her into the advanced class. Did she ask? No. Did she understand what I went over in the first one? No. Every attendee is asked to take a brief survey so that I can direct each workshop to the participants’ needs. She failed it.

    I would simply take this one lightly, offer a refund, and go on with your life. It wasn’t anything malicious that I can tell, but more of a “Ha, I already knew that” type of comment (which you wouldn’t do if you bought it in a bookstore). However, fuel feeds fire, and many negative commenters are more enraged when a blogger draws attention to them.

    1. I’m with Alicia. That’s a ‘well I already knew this and didn’t need to buy the book’ kind of comment. I do think the comment was worded a little harshly. I bought the book and read it. I too was disappointed because I already knew this. I didn’t blame you though. I realized I buy too many of the same type of books (honestly, there’s a reason… I don’t do what the books suggest). The book looked great. It was well written. It got me interested into checking out this blog. And, I faithfully read this blog (and I’m not even a blogger!) But I am finding it very fascinating. So overall a good $6 or whatever it was that I paid for it. Thanks!

      1. Thank you for your honesty, Jill. I’m so glad that even though my ebook didn’t provide new information, this blog has! Thanks so much for reading. 🙂

  13. First of all, I am sorry you received a note like that. I, personally, very much enjoyed the e-book and thought it was a great value.

    Secondly, I wrote a guest blog for a large homeschooling website. The very first facebook comment stuck right through my heart. At first, I was so upset. It bothered me all day. A few more negative comments came trickling in and I felt this overwhelming desire to defend myself and my view point. I waited on it for awhile and didn’t respond with my reaction, which is key in maintaining some self respect. I felt much better when the positive comments were posted, but I did feel very skeptical that I would ever guest blog again. As the day wore on, I saw how ridiculous that was, to throw in the towel, to something I am called to do because someone didn’t like what I said. I can’t please everybody. I have to stop trying…this is something I am going to have to learn.

    Good post! We need to be reminded of this. Know you are doing a great job and we can’t please everyone.

  14. Thank you for sharing this…negative comments are what has really held me back from the blogging world. I don’t mind constructive criticism…but sometimes it can get really mean-spirited. And Jon hits the nail on the head! I needed to hear his insights and plan to take them to heart the next time I get a “nasty” thrown my direction…whether it is on my blog…or in real life. : )

    Great post and I’m guessing everyone will be able to relate!

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