How To Handle Negative Comments

Whether you are a public figure or not, you’re always going to have to deal with people’s opinions of your work. Sometimes, it will be valid; other times, it won’t. Judge the judger, before you let their opinion get to you. Regardless of who is giving you the praise, or the criticism,  you should never allow someone else’s opinion to make you sad.

I had a conversation with a caller on Tea With GaryVee about this very topic. I hope it resonates with you. 

1. Realize That They Don’t Know You

Whoever is leaving mean comments on your content most likely has no idea who you are. 

Michelle: I get really put down by people’s comments and I’ve been watching what you say about not listening to them…but I’m just a really soft person. I’m really sensitive, so I have a really hard time. 

Gary: Let me try to help.The biggest thing that you need to realize is they don’t know you. People criticize me all the time but they have no idea who I am or what I do. They read one quote or look at one clip, out of context, and they think they know me. I’m not too big on constructive criticism when it comes from people who have no idea what they’re talking about. Judge the judger who’s judging you. 

2. Empathize With Them

Do you know how sad someone must be to take the time and leave a mean comment? 

Second, you have to be empathetic and feel compassion for them. Michelle, listen to me, do you know how sad of a place somebody has to be in for them to take the time to watch your video and say something to make you feel bad? Just so that you feel bad with them.

Do you understand how sad they must feel?  I’m not joking, and I think people think i’m just trying to cheer you up, but I’m not joking. When people say shit about you like: you’re ugly, that’s stupid, you’re not funny, you’re dumb, that’s wrong– I don’t know how to do anything other than feel really bad for them.

3. Be Confident And Comfortable In “No”. 

Michelle: Yeah, I get what you’re saying but what’s really hard for me is…I  have a lot of confidence in my abilities and I believe in myself but there were a lot of people commenting on my appearance [under one post]  which is something that I can’t help. I just think it’s a horrible thing to do and,  for some reason, I believe it every time.  They say I’m ugly,  I believe it, and it makes me not want to post anymore.

Gary: Look we all have confidence in some places and lack self-esteem in others. For example, I can walk into an arena right now with 80, 000 people if somebody called and said,  “We need you.”  Like, it’s the first public gathering in New Jersey, you have to give a one hour keynote, we’re outside,  we’re going to the Jet Stadium, and you have to go right now! 

Now, I would be so pumped, I’d be thrilled.  I’d be in the car thinking what the fuck am I going to say? But,  I’m still going to be like,  all right, I can do it

However, if that same person called me and said, “On Tea With Garyvee,  you have to read. Right now. Here’s a piece of paper,  you have to read this .” I would be unbelievably concerned and super self-conscious because I am a very poor reader.  Anxiety for me is sitting around during the high holidays, reading at Passover. Yes, I’m scared with my family. So you have a lot of confidence in some areas and in other areas you don’t–just like every one of us.  

Get comfortable with the word NO, so you’re better able to deal with rejection.  People are too addicted to positive reinforcement; “you’re smart”, “you’re pretty”, “that’s awesome”. Once you believe that, you become susceptible to negative reinforcement. No matter what level of success you have, always remember that you are insignificant. That may sound harsh, but it’s actually incredibly liberating and exciting. It’s a skill you have to build, like a muscle at the gym. 

4. Remember the “Big Picture”

Michelle: So what are some practical things that I can do whenever I get a comment that is mean?  Like, what exercises can I do to build that muscle?

Gary: I think you should pretend that your parents died in a car accident. I know that seems super weird but what I do when I’m struggling is create a scenario in my head that actually speaks about real life. That makes me realize that johnny97 saying that I’m ugly really doesn’t mean a whole lot.

In a world where I’m driving to the hospital because I’ve lost my two best friends 30 to 50 years earlier than i should have, you don’t care about random comments. That’s one tactic that may or may not work for you. 

The other thing that you need to do is go to a place of confidence. For example, in high school, even though I was confident,  I would do really poorly in school. On a tough day, when teachers really shit on me (which was never fun) I would go home and focus on my sports cards.  I would go to a place of confidence. 

5. Realize It’s All In Your Head.

The number one thing you need to realize is that it’s in your own fucking head. You have to understand that you’re deciding that person’s right versus the people that tell you anything else. We all have things that we hate but you have to realize you can actually change it.

Forcing yourself into places that make you happy as a quick juxtaposition to something you’re reading or seeing,  sometimes makes you not dwell on the negative. A place of positivity is immediate medicine. However, it’s only medicine and you have to do work on the macro to really see consistent change. 

I don’t let compliments or criticisms bother me too much. That’s all ego.  Focus on what makes you happy and what gives people value. It keeps things in perspective.

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