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How to Handle Obnoxious Comments Professionally


Ravi is a traveler and foodie who loves to visit off-the-beaten-track places and understand the culture, history and customs behind them.

Responding to obnoxity with increasing obnoxity just creates more problems.

Responding to obnoxity with increasing obnoxity just creates more problems.

My first experience with obnoxious comments was nerve-wracking to put it lightly. People on the internet can be mean at times. Whether it is Facebook, YouTube, or HubPages, no platform is immune from it.

Basically, the comment was a single sentence, 'You write crap. F**k off.’

I could have ignored it and moved on, but I made the cardinal mistake of responding to it in an equally vitriolic language. The to-and-fro comments became nastier by the day.

My anger overwhelmed my creativity and I began to spend all my time responding to every reply from him with ever-increasing viciousness. I got embroiled in a never-ending cycle of hate due to which my creativity took a back foot and hatred led me into a self-destruct mode.

The result? I lost my peace of mind. The publication suspended me from their platform. I lost many followers who were presumably disgusted with the nauseating exchange of words.

As my anger ebbed down, I realized my folly. Responding to obnoxity with increasing obnoxity just creates more problems. And further entering into a comment battle with a troll is the biggest waste of time because they will hate you no matter what you do, simply because they want to hate something.

You will never win any of these battles. You can defend your work with all your might, but if they did not like it (or you), nothing you can say will change their mind and you will end up looking like an argumentative jackass.

So how can you deal with such obnoxious comments? Here are some ideas.

Know the difference between constructive criticism and hate comments

Cris Jami has rightly said.

‘The only thing more frustrating than slanderers is those foolish enough to listen to them.’

The first thing that needs to be done is to identify the difference between constructive criticisms and hate comments. People who critique constructively are logical, respectful and specify the reasons/factors due to which they have a differing opinion.

They have a point of view, which you need to investigate and understand carefully as a writer. You need to build up a rapport with these people and respond to their comments with equal respect.

The haters on the other hand just spew venom with no objectivity or constructive criticism backing their opinion. You cannot try to reason with them because their objective is to be unreasonable, period. Refuse to get intimidated by these negative comments and just ignore them. Once or twice, you do that; they will just leave you alone and go to their next target.

Responding well, versus reacting, to negative comments requires a high level of self-awareness and self-control. Do not be consumed by the heat. Rather eliminate the heat itself.

Listen, don’t defend

Ernest Hemingway has rightly said.

‘When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.’

Once you have ascertained the intention of the commenter, seek to get more information from him. Ask for specific, pointed feedback so that you can improve your work. Listen to what he has to say. Do not defend what you have written.

Say thank you and acknowledge their perspective. Saying thank you does not mean you accept their views. It only means you are open to listening to their perspectives and you value their opinion. Express your appreciation for them for taking time out to share their opinions. Being respectful goes a long way in breaking the ice and fixed mindsets.

Remember, if you need to respond, respond with a mindset/attitude to collaborate. Be solution-based, and work towards positive outcomes.

Don’t argue

G. K. Chesterton has rightly said.

‘The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion.’

The worst mistake you can make is to indulge in a mudslinging game of argument. Getting in an argument with a hater or even with someone who disagrees with you can only lead you along a downward spiral of self-destruction. You do not want to prove that you are right at any cost. Always remember you are a brand and continuous arguments are hurting your brand.

Do not associate your brand with quarrels, stubbornness, and negativity. Social media is very finicky. On one hand, it can zoom you to the peak of stardom and on the other hand, a negative light can spread disillusion and misinformation about you in no time. Be very aware of any comment posted by you on social media. It will come back and bite you.

Do not react to negative feedback. Rather use it as an opportunity to connect and spread the knowledge about your brand.

Fix it, if you can

Whitney Tilson has rightly said.

‘The mark of a wise person isn’t never making mistakes — everyone makes plenty of them. Rather, it’s the ability to quickly admit — and fix — them!’

Sometimes the comments may be stemming from a mistake in the article or even an ambiguous statement, which is creating contrary views. It can even be a misreported fact that needs to be corrected.

Fix it if you can and republish it. If your article is already published, you can request the publisher to issue a bulletin on the corrections/typos in your article that would be corrected in the next version. Also, do not forget to thank the person for pointing out your mistakes.

And if it is too late to fix it, let it, go. You can just try to be better the next time. Do not let the fault prey on your mind. Move on.

Lastly, if nothing works- ignore

Khoudia Diop slays it beautifully when she says.

‘I’ve learned to ignore the negative people and just be a living example of confidence and self-love.’

Coming to my example, I ignored the commenter and refused to respond to him. After two months, the comments stopped. If nothing works, sometimes ignoring is the best option. But it is the last resort after you have tried every possible option to listen, understand and help. The troll is simply not worth your effort and time.

Some people are negative only for the sake of being negative. Move on and focus on those whom you can help and from whom you can learn. For every hateful negative comment, there are a hundred or more positive comments that can boost your self-confidence and propel you to greater heights. Be proud of your audience, cultivate your brand and be loyal to them.

Concluding thoughts

Always remember, it is your work, not theirs. You have to be happy with what you put out into the world; it is ultimately up to you to decide what feels right and to stay true to yourself. Nothing else matters much.

As Ella Woodward has rightly said.

‘Stay true to yourself, engage with your followers, and ignore the critics.’

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2021 Ravi Rajan

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