"Never let 'em see you sweat."
It was like opening up Pandora’s Box.
And I had been previously forewarned.
“Do not read the comments on your published posts,” a fellow content creator instructed me.
But, did I listen? Nope.
In my mind, comments allowed me to discern how my work was being received by my reading audience; give some insight into whether or not people actually felt helped by my advice; and even inform my future writing topics.
This inquiring mind wanted to know…
So, when I published my first article here, checked back and saw that there were comments left, I couldn’t wait to dig in and explore more. I was super geeked.
I felt kinda’ like Sally Field, when she shared at her Oscar acceptance speech years ago: “You like me, you really like me!”
My excitement was short-lived. When I clicked on the comments left by readers, some of the feedback was confusing, critical, and even comical.
Some guy called me the “B” word in his response to my work. And another commenter “Wished I lived in a country where women were not allowed to speak!” Ouch.
(So much for that warm, fuzzy feeling I had anticipated).
This caused an array of responses on my part: ranging from laughter, to disbelief, to scratching my head.
I thought to myself, “it’s a good thing that I wasn’t performing on a live stage (judging by some of the feedback) or I would definitely have to dodge some tossed tomatoes thrown my way. “
WHAT I LEARNED…
Fortunately, all was not lost in the process. Here are 3 important lessons that emerged along the way:
1. YOU CAN’T PLEASE EVERYBODY; SO DON’T TRY.
2. CRITICISM COMES WITH THE TERRITORY.
ANYTIME YOU WRITE, ACT, BLOG, DANCE, CREATE YOUTUBE VIDEOS, ETC. AND SHARE YOUR WORK WITH THE GENERAL PUBLIC, YOU RUN THE RISK OF BEING CRITICIZED OR ALIENATING SOMEONE. ACCEPT IT WITH GRACE.
3. DEVELOPING A THICK SKIN AS A "PERFORMER" IS CRITICAL TO GOING THE DISTANCE.
TO QUOTE A POPULAR EXPRESSION: “ IF YOU CAN’T STAND THE HEAT, STAY OUT OF THE KITCHEN.”
Before I address how to keep your poise in the presence of hecklers and haters, I’d like to provide the definition of “heckler” for greater clarity here.
According to Wikipedia
“A Heckler is a person who harasses and tries to disconcert others with questions, challenges, or gibes. Hecklers are often known to shout disparaging comments at a performance or event, or to interrupt set-piece speeches, with the intent of disturbing performers and/or participant.”
With this in mind, here are 8 clever ways I’ve discovered to keep your poise (and your cool) when dealing with hecklers and haters in 2021:
1. Don’t take it personal.
To quote Jermaine Jackson’s song: “Don’t take it personal.”
Why get all bent out of shape over people who don’t even know you or those who are not contributing to
paying your bills. Hello? Take a chill pill.
2. Stay woke.
Recognize that sometimes those who leave negative comments do so simply to get noticed or feel “heard.” Don’t give them their "15 minutes of fame” on your time by engaging in online “beefs” or lengthy, pointless arguments. You’re better than that.
3. Know that you have nothing to prove to anyone.
That’s right. As a writer living in a free country, you are entitled to your own views; your own topic choices; your own style of expression; and your own affiliations. As long as you always strive to do your best, be proud “grasshopper.”
4. Keep your sense of humor.
A wise man once said: “If you can laugh through it you can live through it.”
5. Focus more on the positive than the negative.
Take personal inventory. Are any negative comments valid? Are there ways to improve? Sometimes “constructive” criticism helps us to develop our skills and our character.
6. Take the “high road.”
There’s less traffic.
7. Develop the proper mindset.
Being able to deal with all types of feedback enables writers to deal successfully with editors; periodic rejection; and even negative book reviews. Not to mention, these days, everybody’s a critic. Their opinion does not have to be your reality.
8. Look at the positive side of things.
There are millions of blogs in numerous niches. The fact that a reader actually chooses your work to read and engage with (out of so many options) can be considered a compliment within itself. Embrace it.
To sum things up here…
Writer Alexis Bonari offers words of wisdom worth considering as well:
“ 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.”
Most of all, remember: "Never let 'em see you sweat."
Image credits: Pixabay.com