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January 13, 2015

How Do You Handle Negativity from Others?

Megaphone on a security fence with text: Do You Listen to Negativity?

At some point, we’re likely to run into negativity in our lives. Maybe we have a friend or relative who likes to complain—loudly—every time they go out to eat, to the point that we’re embarrassed to be seen with them. Maybe we have a boss who berates us publicly in meetings with our co-workers. Maybe we have a parent or spouse who tells us we’re not “good enough” to succeed at something.

It sucks. And quite frankly, it can be a form of emotional abuse.

Unfortunately, we’re likely to run into negativity in our writer-lives as well. Feedback might be filled with cruel “give up” put-downs. We might be attacked by internet trolls. Reviews might rip apart us, personally, instead of focusing on our book.

That kind of negativity sucks too. And I don’t think anyone would blame us for trying to avoid it as much as possible.

So the question then becomes, how do we want to avoid it? What are we willing to do? What’s our personal policy for how to handle negativity from others?

Negativity Surrounds Us—Now What?

It’s near impossible to avoid all negativity. Most sources of news focus exclusively on the bad, and we often can’t completely check out from current events and all connections to family, friends, or social media.

At the same time, the internet has created more paths to negativity:

  • “Don’t discuss religion or politics” has often been advice for getting along with others—and many ignore that advice on social media.
  • Worldwide social media can lead to more culture clashes.
  • Social media and blogs and comments have given everyone a voice—which leads some to feel entitled to be heard.
  • Anonymity leads some to say things they’d never say in person, or to not have to treat the name on the other end of the screen as a real person with feelings.

It’s inevitable that we’re all going to have to face negativity, so we have to decide how to handle it. Some people choose to avoid sources of negativity, whether that means not reading reviews of their books or staying off Facebook or Twitter during events that stir up negativity, and some people proclaim certain aspects of their lives safe spaces and defend them vigorously.

There’s no “always right” answer because we’re each going to have a different line of discomfort. Some hate confrontation, and some revel in it, etc.

We each have to find what we’re willing to live with, from the perspective both of how to combat and/or avoid negativity and of what we’ll put up with to maintain connections to others. Only we can make that decision.

Negativity, Opinions, and Free Speech

In the U.S., the importance of free speech is sometimes explained with a quote from Evelyn Beatrice Hall (this quote is often misattributed to Voltaire, but actually comes from Evelyn’s biography of Voltaire, where she summarized his beliefs):

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Whether you believe in that or not, that quote gives us a start in examining how we might want to interact with those we disagree with, especially if they’re full of negativity:

  • Does “defending to the death” mean people should be allowed to say whatever they want, wherever they want? Or should we be able to control our own online spaces?
  • What about in public spaces? Is it okay to try to remove the platform of someone spouting views we disagree with (such as by trying to get their media platform canceled)? What if the only way to take away that platform would be to destroy their life (dragging them through the mud in every way possible)?
  • Should we always try to disagree in a respectful way? How does that affect our choices?

There are no easy answers to those questions, but I’ve often reminded myself that free speech doesn’t guarantee that anyone will care about someone’s opinions or prevent others from invoking the right to not listen. The freedom to say what we want doesn’t mean anyone is owed a platform.

Negativity Example #1: The Entitlement Problem

That attitude about not owing someone a platform goes double when we’re talking about our online spaces. Nora Roberts, mega-author of both romance and futuristic suspense stories (as J.D. Robb), posted last week on her blog about her struggle with creating a virtual positive space on her own blog and Facebook page.

No matter the conversation topic, someone will feel the need to dump negativity on Nora and her readers. When confronted, they’ll reply:

“It’s just my opinion.”

Everyone has opinions. That’s not special. Having an opinion doesn’t give anyone the right to be rude, especially in someone else’s spaces. No one is entitled to spout their negativity anywhere and everywhere. No one is entitled to be heard.

My Decision: My Blog Is Not a Platform for Others

I’ve seen this myself on my blog. About six months ago, someone started leaving comments on my older posts—disagreeing with every post topic. According to them, head-hopping is wonderful, showing is awful, both character and plot-driven stories are insipid (theoretical ideas only, please), intrusive omniscient narrators are the way to go, info dumps are to be applauded, etc.

At first I shrugged. I don’t take offense when people disagree with me. I wished this person luck with their writing and with finding an audience who appreciated their style.

But as the comments rose into the double digits (and continued over weeks and months), the comments started feeling like graffiti on my blog. I went into “maybe you should visit a different blog with advice more to your liking” mode. They didn’t take me up on my suggestion.

Finally, as the number of comments continued increasing, and as this person’s comments insulted my other commenters and my guest posters, the reality of the situation dawned on me:

Some people just want to be negative in someone else’s spaces.

I don’t have to put up with that on my blog or my Facebook wall. No one is entitled to my or my readers’ attention, and I don’t have to give it to them. So I deleted all their comments.

I didn’t put a *smile* after that line (even though I thought about it) because that decision didn’t make me happy. But the truth is that we’re allowed to create policies about negativity for ourselves and our spaces.

My blog or Facebook wall doesn’t have to be someone else’s platform for spouting their views. They’re welcome to start their own blog and create their own spaces for that.

My decision isn’t about censorship, shutting down freedom of speech, or saying someone isn’t entitled to their opinion. They’re absolutely entitled to their opinion. But their platform for sharing that opinion doesn’t have to be here.

Negativity Example #2: Opinions Are Subjective

The second issue Nora brought up in her post is that some people leaving their opinions on her spaces try to tell her how to do her job. “You should write this way.” “You shouldn’t write those kinds of stories.”

In other words, they’re full of opinions. Storytelling, thy name is subjective.

These aren’t readers pointing out factual issues (typos, historical errors, etc.). Nope, just opinions—that they are bound and determined to tell the author. They demand that the author listen to their opinions. When questioned, those posters’ defense of “It’s just my opinion” usually include a “You should learn how to take constructive criticism” tone.

To those with “constructive criticism” opinions, Nora again says:

“Bite me. … The reader is not my employer… Not welcome. Not asked for. Not accepted. … A book doesn’t come with a suggestion box, and the writer is not obliged to sculpt a story to your specific needs.”

In one of my Facebook groups, we discussed whether this response was too harsh. After all, for indie authors, the reader is the customer.

But no matter how much we respect readers, we can’t treat them as customers in a “The Customer Is Always Right” way because what some readers love, others will hate. Even if we’re not published yet, we’ve probably seen this with conflicting feedback from beta readers or critique groups.

Multiply that by thousands of readers, and we have a situation where we do have to ignore our readers’ “constructive criticism.” Just because something doesn’t work for one reader doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Opinions stated as “this thing I didn’t like means something is most definitely wrong” are inappropriate to post on an author’s blog, Facebook wall or page, etc.

Those readers can vent away in their own blogs, Goodreads groups, reviews, etc. There are plenty of reader spaces, and out of the millions of sites on the internet, they’re being asked to avoid negativity on less than a handful.

The only reason they’d seek out the author’s spaces to state their negative opinion is if they felt entitled to have their opinion heard by the author. They want to hijack the author’s spaces as a megaphone to spread their opinion.

Now, some of us might choose to listen to readers through reviews or whatnot, just to get a feel for whether there’s an issue of something not working at all. But we could seek out review sites for that information. We don’t have to invite that feedback into our spaces unless we want.

I’ve written before about how we have the right to decide how our spaces are run. We can come up with spam policies, moderation policies, commenting policies, etc. Having a negativity policy is just another way to control our spaces. We might not be able to avoid negativity everywhere, but if we think of our spaces as our online home, we get to decide who we let in the front door. *smile*

Do you try to avoid negativity, and if so, how? How do you handle those you disagree with? Do you try to prevent negativity in your spaces, and if so, how? Do you think I was wrong to delete those comments? Do you agree or disagree with Nora Roberts’ attitude toward constructive criticism from readers?

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78 Comments on "How Do You Handle Negativity from Others?"

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Flossie Benton Rogers

I agree with what you did about deleting the comments. You gave the person ample opportunity to tamp it down and exit gracefully. Nora also has the right not to be hassled by a reader–in her space== who wants her to write a certain way.

Carradee
A pertinent detail: There’s a difference between commenting on an event/action/mindset, and ridiculing a person. It’s “That dress looks ridiculous” vs. “You look ridiculous.” “That decision was stupid” vs. “You are stupid.” Once you turn things into a personal attack, that’s a logical fallacy (ad hominem), and you’ve lost the argument—but in propaganda terms, ad hominems readily work as appeals to emotion, so if your goal is to turn public opinion against the other party, ad hominems work for that even while you actually lose the argument. Which has led to some people believing that an ad hominem wins an argument. My roommate says she wishes she could’ve recorded the time she saw me furious, because it was a hilarious (and “masterful”) use of language to completely lambaste a person’s actions, without getting crass. I wouldn’t be surprised if I write a satire someday, once I get more comfortable with displaying that side of me. (I avoid it as a knee-jerk reaction, because I’m used to those kinds of tools being used against individuals themselves.) I completely agree with your deletion and with Nora Roberts’s attitude. Websites are not public places. Websites are private property. Every private entity has a right to say how its space will be used. That’s why, when one writer’s forum was virulently anti-self-publishing, I didn’t run around spouting self-publishing’s praises. I politely sought to correct misinformation, at least so others on the forum interested in a more rounded view might be aware there was more… Read more »
Pauline Baird Jones

My space, my rules. On others’ space, I try to be polite, to act, not react. But I was glad to read NR’s response, because I think we’ve all got the “just constructive criticism/just my opinion” line at some point. It felt wrong, but I never really thought about why, just walked away. I had a great mentor who told me that good criticism makes you feel empowered and excited, bad makes you want to toss in the towel. Pinning “constructive” to your criticism doesn’t make it so. (wry grin) So yeah, you were totally right, IMHO. Besides, I like your space. It’s a positive place. 🙂

Emerald O'Brien
Emerald O'Brien

I try to avoid negativity in my own life and my writer life for sure. In my own places, home and online, I think it has to do with being respectful. The moment someone crosses the line, it’s not a “safe” place to be anymore. Whether it’s just you, or it’s your guests that are recieving negativity, I think you did the right thing by deleting those comments.
I believe that just as personal settings can show a lot about a character in a book, one can also reflect a lot about the person online who runs it as well. What they allow and what they will not.
I loved that post of Nora’s, by the way, and the general message I got from it. When you have some control over your surroundings, I’d say use it. When it’s negativity in another place, it’s easier to leave.

Serena Yung
Serena Yung
Oh yes I definitely hate it when readers try to almost command you to make these plot changes or these character changes (or change their gender!!!) I mean, it’s our story, not the reader’s. The reader has no right to CONTROL our story. They can give SUGGESTIONS or pinpoint things that are not working well, but they can’t control the story. Plus, I can’t change my plot or characters unless I realized I made a mistake somewhere, e.g. gaping plot hole or character inconsistency/ out of character moment, haha. About that person who appeared six months ago, oh man, you’ve seen me with many non-mainstream opinions on writing, but even I’m not THAT anti-mainstream, haha. I usually have a more nuanced position where I prefer technique X better than technique Y though Y is more popular nowadays, but I see the merits of Y too; and I realize that the norms and preferences are different in different genres (or time periods or cultures!) For people who want to express different viewpoints, it’s helpful to phrase it in a polite, diplomatic, and respectful way; it’s also good to point out if there’s anything you DO agree with too, since saying that you agree with someone on something usually calms them down, haha. It’s similar to what Carradee said about sandwiching negative feedback between some positive feedback to make it more acceptable to the hearer. Of course, when we give these agreeing statements or positive feedback, they should be sincere, not just… Read more »
Anne R. Allen

I agree 100% with what you’re saying and what Nora said. Some people argued on other blogs that because the negativity was on Nora’s FB page and she doesn’t own FB, the negativity was somehow okay. But it isn’t.

I saw Nora write more on the subject on another blog and she said one of her most negative comments on FB came from a religious fanatic who wanted to bully Nora into only writing stories that conformed with the fanatic’s personal belief system.

In other words, this “reader” wanted to bully Nora into kow-towing to a hate-based view of religion. Given what happened in Paris this week, this is scary stuff.

Bullies, trolls, and terrorists don’t have to be tolerated in the name of “fairness”. We shouldn’t feed them or applaud them or promote their agendas. The person on your blog was an obvious troll. I delete all trolls on my blog. People can disagree with me, but if they disrespect me or my readers, I delete.

I think we owe it to our blog readers to keep them safe.

Robin
Robin

Thank you for maintaining a positive tone to the conversations on your blog. I have gone through and commented on a lot of your old posts… (you often link to them, and I fall down the rabbit hole.) so I’m glad you went to the trouble of deleting the negative commenter’s ranting, or naysaying, etc… because I frequently take the time to read the comments and discussion after your posts, and I expect (based on what I’ve seen here thus far!) On your blog I Expect intelligent, respectful conversation. And I find it. 🙂 So Thank You for maintaining a nice space for me to visit.

I believe the internet would benefit greatly from more of us remembering my mama’s advice – if you have nothing good to say, say nothing.

Christina Hawthorne

To me it always comes down to respect. Those who are disrespectful from the start are usually not there to give constructive criticism or put forth a measured argument. You acted correctly and I agree with Nora’s opinion on the topic. How often have we been in a restaurant and rolled our eyes because some poor employee was having to deal with an irate customer who was determined to be irrational. At some point you have to tell someone you can’t please them and send them on their way. A customer shouldn’t be allowed to hold a business and its customers hostage and your site is no different. My inclination is to counter disrespect with respect in every situation, but like you I have my limits and at that point I’d end a person’s access. Your actions were appropriate.

Carradee
Good analogy on the restaurant. I’m the kind of customer that easily becomes a nightmare—list of allergies as long as my arm. It’s worse than it used to be, to the point that I pretty much can’t eat out without having something that’ll make me itch, but even before that… Imagine being allergic to rice, tomato, egg yolk, pork, almonds, stevia, aggregate berries (ones with seeds on the outside)—where you can’t even be around strawberries, and even trace amounts of rice will leave you sick for days. Add to that a health condition that means you should eat at least 4x per day; if you feel hungry, you MUST eat within 20 minutes or else you’ll get ill; and you’re under nutritionist orders to eat protein with every meal—more protein than most people need. I can tell the difference between a server screwup and a kitchen screwup. When I do eat out, I encounter some kind of screwup probably 1/3 of the time, if not more. Servers are always so relieved when I don’t hold kitchen mistakes against them. I also make sure to tip well—with excellent service getting a tip high enough to be considered excessive. But you know what? Those servers recognize me the next time, remember some details about me, and make sure to work my table, probably telling their co-workers about all the allergies to dissuade them from wanting to deal with me. I’ve even had a server notice when I forgot to say “No X”… Read more »
Killion Slade

Hi Jami! I LOVE this topic and I’ll keep my comment short and sweet.

1) Awesome you booted the troll!

2) Nora’s POV is her POV and she should be allowed to call the shots.

3) I quit watching TV [the news media outlets] almost three years and it has helped me emotionally, mentally, and with an over-all sense of well-being. WAAAAAY too much negativity.

4) Negative peeps – I have literally had to make the conscious decision to remove those kinds of people from my life. One was a family member. Never a kind word, always so sarcastic and very unkind. I was never good enough no matter how much money I sent, educated myself, etc. I finally had to cut to cord and allow myself to defend the right of the positive space. Non-constructive negative people are a deal breaker. I reserve the right to love myself enough to not tolerate it anymore. 🙂

Deborah Makarios

Your house, your rules 🙂 Everyone has the right to speak, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else has the obligation to listen to them.
Happily I haven’t had any nastiness in blog comments, but you never know when that may change.

Maggie
Maggie

I’ve been in the food industry for years…and I’m a writer…and I know one thing with absolutely certainty. The customer is not always right. They may have an opinion yes, but they are not always right. There is a difference. Unfortunately we now have cowards who hide behind anonymity who think they can be as rude and insulting as they like. The aggression that is emerging because of social media is appalling.

Carradee

As a freelancer, I’ve had a client communicate badly, where I had no idea he didn’t understand what he was saying, because he used the appropriate jargon.

When he was unhappy with the resultant work, he insisted that I’d dropped the ball, not doing my job by making sure he understood what he was asking for. He even claimed that his advice was professional and would help me with client communication. I pointed out that in my 9 years of experience, clients preferred me giving them credit for having brains.

Okay, I didn’t phrase it quite like that, but that was the gist of the conversation. He tried to pull the “customer is always right” BS. I just snorted and rolled my eyes and felt sorry for his family.

Robin
Robin

I bet you can’t count the number of “complaints” that could be accurately rephrased as “I got what I asked for instead of what I wanted, and now I’m MAD!”

Carradee

*laughs* Yep. I don’t get them often, but when I do… *shakes head*

Arsoleen Woolcock
Arsoleen Woolcock

I agree with you wholeheartedly. There’s a difference between constructive criticism done tastefully and rude negativity.

Jennifer Jensen (@jenjensen2)

Hi there, Jami! This was a great post (and I’m off to read NJ’s now). I especially liked this sentiment:

“My blog or Facebook wall doesn’t have to be someone else’s platform for spouting their views. They’re welcome to start their own blog and create their own spaces for that.”

I have a right to say/write what I want, and anyone else does too – just not necessarily in the same place at the same time. Play nice or go home. Thanks!

A.J. Goode

I think you handled the situation perfectly by giving the person a chance to speak until the person abused the privilege. You’ve given me so much to think about when it comes to setting boundaries in my own space. I always thought it was best to approve all comments on my blog because it showed I was honest and willing to take criticism; now, I’m wondering if that doesn’t just make my blog more about drama and negativity in the comments section and less about the blog content.

It’s definitely something to consider. I never really thought about the fact that I have the right to set my own boundaries. Thank you so much for this.

Dave (@Newburydave) Withe
Jami; Love your blog posts. You are nearly always jump into the middle of what’s happening with very germane analysis and insight. Keep it up sis. Thankfully I’ve had only small involvement with the kind of trollish negativity online that you describe. Probably because I’m beneath their notice. However, two incidents stand out in my memory: 1) Back when I was a green author in training I started an online writers group, specifically for faith based writers, to swap Peer to Peer critiques and writing discussions. I based the format of the group loosely on the Baen’s Bar Slushpile, without Baen’s anti-religious bias. I intentionally set it up to be freewheeling and informal. As the owner and moderator I didn’t want to have to ride herd on my members so I left it to the members to apply the Golden Rule as the rule of conduct online. I set up some ‘Roolz’ and behavior standards, as any good moderator should, but they were largely suggestions to a group of conscientious people. My members validated my confidence in them by conducting themselves well until, one of the members took another to task about a Theological position that some of her writing seemed to violate. He began to harangue her about the need to conform to his notions of orthodoxy. She complained to me. Our group at that time included members from most of the major Judeo/Christian faith traditions in the world. I had come to think of all of them as… Read more »
Davonne Burns

Writing what I do I’ve had my share of negativity. At one point I was told I should stop writing and kill myself. Yes, death threats for writing something they didn’t agree with. Needless to say that commenter was reported. That’s an extreme and something I hope you never have to deal with but it goes to show just how entitled some people feel when it comes to their belief system. I very firmly believe that we have the right to ignore so called criticism no matter how constructive the other party thinks they are being.

Personally, if someone does not like that I write romance for the MOGAI community then they have no business commenting on my writing. If you disagree with the subject or don’t like my writing, then it’s not for you.

Simple.

Nancy

Absolutely agree with all of the above articulate, reasonable, sensitive reasons for deleting inappropriate comments. Kudos!

Laurie Spice

I completely agree with Nora Roberts and your opinions. We haven’t come across this on our blog or FB pages yet (we are too new) but we discussed it before we went live. We are okay with debate, we welcome it and even debate and disagree among ourselves, but we keep it clean and not personal. We won’t put up with personal or ugly attacks against us or our readers.

I did laugh a little when I read your post because I used to be the head of a rather large alumni association. We have a FB page where people connect, talk about how they’ve been etc. A few years ago, people started posting all sorts of political nastiness. When the attacks got so bad I started deleting things, I took a lot of free speech criticism. Finally I created an alumni opinion page so the blowhards could attack each other and leave me and my page alone. Those same people who attacked me on free speech now police the regular alumni page for me, steering fellow blowhards to the hot air alumni page where they happily attack and belittle each other and leave the rest of us alone. It’s just too bad we can’t desegregate all negative trolls so easily.

Joanna Aislinn

For me, Jami, it somehow always goes back to Walt Disney’s Thumper (of Bambi fame). “If ya can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”

“Constructive” feedback, criticism, etc, can be delivered with compassion and kindness, regardless of the situation.

Negative people: I am friendly with all, but generally stay away from those who ooze negativity. Life is too stressful on its own. I also can’t imagine a negative crowd has much joy on the day to day.

Reviews: I prefer to think I’m providing my “thoughts” on a given book. I do my best to comment on the high points. I might allude to blah-blah-blah that I’m might have liked better, but never in a disparaging way. (I find that most challenging when I’ve promised a review in exchange for a book that winds up being a total let-down.) If I don’t care for it–like the last one I read–I just keep MHO to myself.

Finally, making gratitude a practice tends to repel negativity (kind of like peppermint to mice and garlic to vampires, I guess. 😉 )

Be well. Great post!

Pat Ireland
Pat Ireland

Hi Jami, I think you are absolutely right. There are a lot of people who seem to get confused by the difference between having the right to an opinion, and having the right to an audience. The kind of drama, negativity, and trolling that you talk about is the main reason I tend to avoid reading comments (on practically any site — although I will definitely be reading the comments here from now on).

I just wanted to say thank you for a great blog. I’m learning a lot from reading your posts. And it’s such a treat to find a site where the discussion is so fantastic.

Whenever I hear people insisting that others are obligated to listen to their opinions, it always reminds me of why an opinion is like an anus: everybody has one, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to walk around inflicting their own on everybody they meet. Nobody particularly enjoys having one shoved in their face. (And as often as not, they turn out to be full of, er, excrement anyway.)

(Sorry, I just *had* to add that!)

Kassandra Lamb
Great post, Jami, and great comments. At first I thought Nora Roberts’ words a bit harsh so I popped over and read her post. Hmm, not so harsh after all. Love her analogy about what one would or would not say to a party hostess. What we’re talking about here are interpersonal boundaries. Bottom line: you can do whatever you want in your space. You cannot do whatever you want in my space. And my space includes my “territory” on the Internet i.e. blog, Facebook page, etc. and it includes my ears. I am not required to listen to you. The one area where I think Nora was being a little, not harsh necessarily, but maybe too black and white is regarding readers’ comments on how to write. On the one hand, I get what she’s saying, and I chuckled at the “books don’t come with suggestion boxes” line. But I think we need to keep in mind the reader’s demeanor when they make “suggestions.” Sometimes people think they are being constructive. They mean well, but they just don’t realize that they don’t know enough to know that they don’t know enough. I received an email recently from a gentleman who said he had enjoyed my book but felt it would “flow better” if I didn’t try so hard to find “just the right word.” I was a little taken aback since this contradicted much of the positive feedback I hear about my writing. Then he gave an example: Why… Read more »
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[…] Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ shares helpful writing tips for creative writers, Jami Gold explores the ways we handle the negativity of others, and Allison Brennan brings a great perspective over whether writing fast should be the goal of […]

Justine Sebastian
Justine Sebastian
Hi, Jami! It’s my first comment here on your blog though I’ve been reading for a while now—I love your content. ::big grin:: I found this post in particular interesting and I absolutely agree that negativity should be kept out of your space if that’s how you want it. Though some people seem to thrive on it. There are communities on sites like Live Journal that focus on nothing BUT negativity—but they do it under the guise of Social Justice (haha, no). I do try to avoid negativity, but I can’t always do that. I’ve received negativity from the passive-aggressive to outright ranting blow-ups. To be frank, I prefer the blow-ups because nothing irritates me more that passive-aggressiveness. Regardless, I don’t sit back and take it because my particular view is “you brought it TO ME” and therefore, I will address it unless it’s something unbelievably ridiculous. The ones I dislike the most though are the comments/reviews I (and probably everyone else at some point) get where it is OBVIOUS the reader/reviewer is only nitpicking because they feel they have to dislike SOMETHING about the work. I had one reviewer gush at me about a story I wrote only to go on to say, “But I didn’t like the sailboats.” Another complained about the size of the paragraphs in another story. I mean, really? REALLY? Heh. Jeeze. I don’t outright try to prevent negativity—I think that’s impossible because this is the internet and people have opinions they indeed feel entitled… Read more »
Glynis Jolly

There distinct differences between negativity, constructive criticism, and rudeness. When someone reads one of my posts, there’s a possibility that one of these things will pop up in the comment section. I appreciate the constructive criticism, so I will thank the person with a smile. Some aren’t as tactful, the plain negative comment. I answer letting the person know that I actually read the comment. The ones who are rude will either be excluded from the comment section or at least get ignored.

Jami, please be kind to yourself by not taking the negativity so personally.

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[…] week I also saw this post from Jami Gold on Handling Negativity. I’m not always the most positive person, but I try. In my spaces, particularly online, I try […]

Jennifer Barricklow

LOTS of great conversation here. Clearly, this is something many of us grapple with, in one form or another, on a regular basis.

I was struck by the bit about who a writer’s customers are — and if they are always right. As a writer, every reader is not my customer because a very large number of readers are not interested in what I write. This is true no matter what genre or category I write in.

Everything I write has a target audience, so for that piece, members of that target audience are my customers. If someone has a serious issue with something I’ve written, I consider very carefully if he or she is in that target audience. If so, then I need to take his or her concerns seriously. If not, I will weigh those concerns and take from them anything that seems useful with regard to the target audience. I don’t dismiss the reader’s concerns because they come from outside the target audience, but I keep that fact in mind when evaluating them.

Of course, trolls are another matter, being rather more than outside the target audience…

Karen McFarland

So sorry Jami that I missed all the excitement and wonderful comments when this post first came out. But I was sick girl. Yet, I must say that you were in the right to remove comments that you felt were unwarranted. They were rude. And this is your website, your blog to do with it whatever you so choose. I also felt that Nora Roberts was perfectly within her rights to address her grievances as she so eloquently did on her Facebook page. That’s her platform and it does not belong to others to make snide remarks. I think there are certain people who don’t quite know, or weren’t taught about boundaries, manners and the like. They feel it is within their rights to say whatever they wish without thinking about how it will affect other people. It certainly wasn’t the place for it and I think Nora handled it well. As for myself, I try to avoid negativity whenever possible. There’s already to much of it in the world around us in my humble opinion.

Very nice post Jami. Thank you! 🙂

Meg Justus

I just got through spending an unavoidable week in a very negative space — my sister’s home. I had to be there because of family business, but it’s going to take me a while to get back to normal now that I’m home. Negativity can come from the ones who are supposed to love you as well as strangers. And, oddly enough, both are just as horrible.

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[…] Chuck said, we can be understanding about our limitations and still encourage growth. We have enough negativity in the world to deal with, and we don’t need to give advice that isn’t helpful to us a platform in our thoughts. […]

Sophie
Sophie

One thing I learned very quickly is that me and negativity just don’t go. I admit, I’m pretty sensitive to a few things. Conflict and negativity are two of ’em. Add in the fact that I try to see the other side (and fail) and you get a recipe for disaster. (As an aside: What do you get when you add an easily-panicked girl who hates loud noises to a paintball round? A panicked girl who was on the verge of a panic attack after just a few shots (and getting shot at). Not doing that again…)

I’m hoping I’ll just ease up as I age, and not be so sensitive, but I’ll see.

But I digress: If you create a site, that is your space. Not theirs. While some negativity is good, it can go too far. I agree with what you had to do and what Nora Roberts did. Both times, the offender pushed it too far. I will have likely done the same (eventually…). I just hope I don’t have to deal with it, but that’s unlikely.

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