Reading Andys post about “hate” got me thinking about criticism. I realised that in the past I have learned more from flames than I have from compliments. This could be turned to your advantage.
It seems like longer but Performancing has only been live for a few months. In that time we have received much feedback, mostly positive, some fairly agressive. I am sure if you do a vanity search for your blog you will find the same. While the bad stuff might upset you, criticism can be a valuable asset.
While it might be better for your ego if you do not always read and digest everything that is said in comments you must not be selective in which comments you read. Only listening to compliments can be really damaging to your blogs quality, and arguably for yourself as a person.
While it would be nice if all the comments were positive, complaints can be your best feedback. Many people who lash out actually feel aggrieved or hurt rather than feeling like causing bother. This is an opportunity to see how you have been misunderstood, misrepresented or what you have said could have been distorted. We post so quickly and often it is so easy for a throwaway comment to be taken the wrong way and you know what? Communication takes two parties, it is your job to get your message across as it is your blog. You can’t blame the other party for not understanding.
By showing that you welcome all feedback you will get more comments and openness is a great quality in a blogger.
I am not suggesting that you just take on board everything people say to you or about you and it is OK to be upset. Bad comments can be paralysing and can make you want to pack up and quit. I have been there many times. This is not about being a doormat. What you are doing is listening and analyzing to see if the feedback has validity. Think to yourself how the situation looks from the others point of view. Could they have misunderstood due to bad communication on your part or are they just being a grumpy git? There are people who just want to make trouble. Be on the look out for people causing trouble with other visitors on your comments also, it is up to you to police those.
When you receive a negative comment
- Don’t be crushed, Don’t be defensive, listen and encourage explanation
- Think “what can I learn from this”
- Get a second opinion
- Consider how you can get your point across more clearly
- Remember how it feels for when you next criticise others
Like piloting an airoplane, when you are blogging you need to make course corrections. It is only by listening to feedback, good and bad, that you can learn what the real situation is. Your audience are the ones who you are writing for, your blog is for them not you.
It might not seem this way but often “bad” feedback is the most honest. In fact a bloggers most common feedback is silence. A lack of feedback means something is wrong but there is no way of pinpointing what it is, at least with negative criticism you have something to act on.
While it might take a little courage it is a good idea to solicit criticism – ask your audience what they worst things about your blog are. What single thing would they change. Tell them you will not be offended.
How valuable would it be if someone let you in on the one thing that is keeping people away? That one single factor that annoys the hell out of your audience that you never noticed.