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Dealing with negative feedback in social media

Anybody working online may at some point have to deal with negative feedback, both deserved and undeserved. It always brings negative feelings and emotions. Today I am going to share my own experience of dealing with negative feedback in social media. Everything posted there is picked up by Google and other search engines unless it's protected by privacy settings. That's why it's so important, first of all, to know how to deal with negative feedback correctly and, secondly, to stay calm and professional.

Managing a translation school, I periodically come across various negative comments about it in social networks (luckily, it doesn't happen as often now as we are earning a quite decent reputation among Russian translators). At first, I got really upset about those comments, especially if they came from people who didn't even attend any of our e-courses or webinars, but they were sure nevertheless that we were just another info business in the worst meaning of the word. What's interesting is that I noticed that if we offered them a chance to take part in a course they wouldn't even show up. Their main goal was to release their share of sarcasm and proudly walk away. ;-)

Luckily, there are more good people around. Still misunderstandings and problems can occur, and one of the challenges of social networks is that anything (good or bad) shared about your brand is seen by many people who are shaping their view about your services based on what they read online. That's why I always monitor what's being said about the translation school where I work and always reply to comments.

I also realised that there's another issue related to dealing with negative feedback. It concerns preserving your calmness and sanity despite of what people may write about your work. It may be hard, especially if you know you are doing your best. Here's what I do now. If I come across some negative feedback I don't react right away, but I switch to another task, maybe even turn off that social network for a few minutes. When I have calmed down, I open the network again and re-read the comment very carefully trying to see the rational idea behind it or a real problem that I can solve (or that I can get somebody else to solve). If there is a problem, I solve it and then reply to that comment saying that I am sorry for the inconvenience caused and that the problem is now solved. If there is no problem, but a miscommunication has taken place, I try to reply with respect and explain why we do things a certain way. I've noticed that this practice has helped me to become much calmer in general.  I can't say I don't care when somebody criticizes me, but I surely do my best to stay constructive at all times.

By the end of my first year as a manager of a translation school, I have come to the following conclusions:

1. It's impossible to be liked by everybody.

2. If a person wants to find fault with me or to find something wrong in the work of the school, he or she will. That's why it is very important to keep doing my very best and keep constantly growing professionally in order to work better. The most important thing is to work so well that I won't be able to criticize myself. To me, my own appreciation is more important now than the words of others.

3. If you see negative feedback about your work, you need to react to it
а) always;
b) fast (if possible);
c) in a constructive way.

4. Why is it necessary to deal with negative feedback?
а) In order to show your respect for other people, their feelings, their experience, and their fears.
b) Negative feedback helps to see problems that you wouldn't notice otherwise. The most useful reaction to negative feedback is the solvation of a real problem, even though people may have shared about it not in the most constructive manner. Still, they helped you see it and then solve it, and that's good!

I hope that my experience will help you, too. I'd love to hear about your experience in comments!

P.S. The article was originally published in my Russian blog (in Russian, of course).

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