The articles and posts I’ve written on RTM about geolocation tools and Foursquare have been well received, so that was the category that was selected for me for Mashable.  I tried to offer some insights that aren’t read everywhere else and provide some value for readers that were a little different than what they’re used to. 

The post went live.  I felt great.  It was fun to have a chance to reach such a large audience.  Birds were singing.  Babies quit crying.  Tons of people were retweeting and sharing the content on Facebook and LinkedIn.  All was right in the world.

Then I got this gem of a comment.

Yep.  Apparently my post was the worst they had ever seen on Mashable.  Ever.  Of all time.

It wasn’t just bad.  It wasn’t just terrible.  It was phrased as the absolute worst…EVER.  Being labelled the worst ever is no small feat, especially considering the blog has several thousand posts.

So in an internet age of nameless bomb-throwers…

How Do You Handle Negative Comments?

1.  Breathe

When I first read that comment I was a little taken aback.  I don’t mind disagreements.  In fact, I love to debate, but getting excited to have a post on the biggest social media blog in the world and only to be told it not only sucks, but it is in fact…the worst ever is kinda a downer.  I stayed bummed for about 5 seconds, then I got heated.

I’m passionate about this stuff and violently against spam and hack marketing.  If my content is being taken the wrong way and people think it will be misused for that, I wanna set ‘em straight.

But getting worked up doesn’t help anyone.  So breathe.  Don’t react.  At least not yet.

You need to take a few deep breaths to take the situation for what it is…a comment.  An opinion.

2.  Assess the Validity

Like it or not, not all negative comments are in fact negative.  Sometimes they’re true.  So take an honest look and assess the situation to see if there’s any validity to it.  Nobody likes getting negative feedback or criticism, but if the writer is making a point that’s legit…you shouldn’t deny or pass it off just because it’s negative in tone.

For the record, I don’t think I wrote the worst post ever on Mashable.  And judging by the amount of how much it was shared, I don’t think most people agree either.  But, sometimes criticism is on target and can be beneficial.  You need to have the self-awareness to be able to look outside your own ego and if they’re right, then admit it and change.

3.  Handle Your Critics

Sticks and stones may break my bones…but words on the internet are up forever and dammit that sucks.  If somebody is throwing bombs or leaving a comment, you need to respond.  Comments that are left open look bad and if they’re ignored too many people can take that the wrong way.  If you disagree, and in my case I didn’t think I had the worst post ever on Mashable, write back.

Depending on if your critics are one, or a landslide, you can determine the course of action.  But one way or the other, it needs to be addressed.

4.  Tactful Response – Don’t Get Defensive

Charging all aggressive and hurling back insults just makes you look like an ass.  If you disagree with the comment, act like an adult and address it the way it should.  Offer your opinion and state your point of view.  In many cases, there is often a misunderstanding and after a few back and forths, some common ground may be achieved.

If a commenter just doesn’t like your stuff…whatevs.  Don’t take it

5.  Brush Your Shoulders Off – Move Forward

Sometimes we’re going to agree to disagree.  Sometimes we’re going to agree that we think the other person’s a douche.  Sometimes people just don’t like your stuff.  Sometimes people just don’t like you.  And that’s ok.  If everybody online got along like Leave It To Beaver, the internet would be lame.

If you produce any content online, you’re going to have both fans and critics.  That’s life.

So keep your chin up and keep your skin thick.