What happens when you are doing everything you can to build relationship with people to grow your business and one person in the group makes a negative or derogatory remark?  What is your reaction and how do you handle it?  The truth is, there are many entrepreneurs that would take that remark personally and focus completely on that one comment rather than the many positive comments that they had received in the past.

If it hasn’t happened to you yet, mark my words, it will.  There will come a time when that one ‘bad apple’ is going to rise to the surface and you will have to deal with it, (actually him or her).  Recently I had a situation like this that made me stop to think about not only how I wanted to handle this particular situation but also what type of policy I wanted to put in place in my company for dealing with this type of situation in the future. 

Let me tell you a little bit about my particular situation.  I had posted a link to a piece of reference material that I thought would be helpful for a group I am a member of in LinkedIn.  Along with the link, I posted a short summary that described what the reference material was about, why I was posting and how I thought others could benefit from this information. 

The next day I received a reply message that was quite lengthy that included the responder’s opinion on the topic.  In his message, it wasn’t exactly what he said so much as how he said it that concerned me.  His message was filled with sarcasm and negativity.

As I read the message a few more times, it became obvious to me that he hadn’t even reviewed the material in the link that I had provided.  It was very apparent that he was making assumptions about what he thought the material contained and was voicing his opinion based on that assumption.

I knew I had a few choices on how I could handle his comment.  I could: 

  1. Take it personally and respond with the same negativity and sarcasm that he did.
  2. Take it personally and not respond at all…. Just blow the whole thing off but deep down inside it would bother me.
  3. I could not take it personally and remember that this is part of business.  I could respond back from a place of love and compassion stating my take on his comments. 

I chose option #3!

I replied to his comment by explaining that although he had a valid point, it was apparent to me that he had not reviewed the material in the link.  I explained that had he actually reviewed the material he would see that the point I was trying to make was the exact same point of view he had stated in his reply thereby only reinforcing my original thoughts even further. 

I never could have anticipated what would happen next.  He responded back to me.  However, not in the way that you’re probably thinking that he would.  Instead of more sarcasm and negativity his entire demeanor had changed.  He was open, honest and apologetic.  His response came from a place of respect and appreciation for how I handled my reply to him. 

Following our exchange many, many others weighed in on the topic AND in on how I handled his initial comment.  The thread went on for a few weeks, (can you believe it…. a few weeks).  Quite coincidentally, as it turned out the very last comment on that thread was from the same person that I’ve been telling you about.  He was the first and last person to comment on the thread.  In his final post, he thanked everyone for reinforcing ‘again’ for him how listening and observing can be a profound learning experience.

Truthfully, it was a learning experience for every single person that read or commented on that thread, including me.  I had people sending me private messages telling me how much they learned by how I handled that initial comment.  The ripple effect from that one post is far beyond anything that I could have ever imagined and that feels amazing.

I do want to share something with you though.  I want you to know that how I responded was something that I have learned from my mentor.  She is always telling her clients to come from a place of love.  She has experienced many ‘bad apples’ in her career and understands how to take control of the situation for the most positive outcome possible.  I have watched her and learned from her technique and that is why I’m sharing this story with you today.

In the future, I hope you take these things to heart:

  1. Don’t be afraid to state your opinion about things, even if it ruffles a few feathers along the way.  You never know when profound learning is going to take place.
  2. When dealing with the “ Negative Nellies” in the world of social media, assess their comment and respond appropriately from a place of love, respect and compassion.
  3. Establish a policy that your company will follow in situations like the one that I described today so you already have the format in place.  No emotion necessary.
  4. Remember that there are many cases when the person responding is chronically negative and is intentionally trying to rile you up and get attention.  That is why you need an established procedure in place prior to one of these situations arising.
  5. Never, ever, ever take their comments personally.  Rise above it. 
  6. Lastly, (and I say this with love too), if all else fails just hit the “DELETE” button on their post.  If they continue to be rude and argumentative then deleting their posts is really your only alternative.

Just know that the more you put yourself out there the higher the chance that you are going to experience a ‘bad apple’ for yourself.  It is a part of doing business, but with some preparation ahead of time you can choose to not take it personally and even learn from the experience.  Not taking it personally allows you to have the perspective you will need to respond in a kind and caring manner.  Who knows, you may end up being the writer of the next viral Internet post.

Lastly, keep in mind that in percentage of negative feedback is very, very little compared to the positive feedback you receive.  Focus only on the comments that lift you up, validate your mission and just plain make you feel good.

As always, my intention for this article is to provide information that will help you in building your business and in living your life.  Please share with me how this article has impacted you.  Have you ever experienced a ‘bad apple’ in your business?  How did you handle it?  I invite you to share your story with me on my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/KarenPattockBiz.  I look forward to seeing you there.  Until then, remember… business is business, don’t take it personally.

To Your Success,