AskPat 24 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: What's up everybody? This is Pat Flynn, and welcome to Episode 24 of AskPat where I answer your online business questions five days a week. I'm here for you. And if you'd like to do me a quick favor and leave a review on iTunes for AskPat, you can go to AskPat.com/iTunes.
That would be really helpful for the show, and even more important than that, it's just really helpful for me to know what I'm doing well so I can do more of that. Or if you don't have a positive review or if you have some constructive criticism, I would love that as well. Cause I want to improve for you. Again, AskPat.com/iTunes. Hope to see you there.
And speaking of reviews, today's question is all about reviews. It's actually about negative reviews and how to handle them. This question is from John. So let's hear from John right now.
John: Hey Pat, this is John Kenny from CastMemberSecrets.com. I have a quick question for you about negative reviews. I have a book on Amazon, and I have a podcast and I have an ebook that I'm launching very soon. As I've been testing things, I have gotten only a couple of negative reviews, but every time I get a negative review, it's really . . . It seems devastating, and I know it shouldn't be. I know that I should just move past it and forget about it. I wanted to ask you, how do you handle negative reviews? I'd love to hear your insight on how you just get around that devastation of somebody not accepting or liking what you do. Thanks a lot and really appreciate your answer.
Pat Flynn: John, thank you so much for your question. This is incredibly important 'cause for anybody who's producing any content in any format online, we put ourselves out there, and we open the doors up to potentially negative reviews. It's really interest how just one negative review out of a sea of tens of thousands reviews sometimes just that one negative review can just kill us. Right? It's devastating. Like you said. You used that word, like, five times. That's absolutely the perfect way to put it because it is devastating. When you're first starting out, you don't have a thick skin. You're not used to this. Again, you're putting yourself out there, and you're scared and you're fearful, and here you are getting this person who's saying nasty stuff about you. I will let you know it happens to me too. It happened to me when I first started. It still happens to me today.
So please, don't . . . If you're getting negative reviews, don't think that you're alone. I have a lot to say about this because this is really important. A lot of times, people get one negative review and they think about it so much, they can't stop thinking about it, and they just stop everything they're doing. They stop everything they're doing for that one or two negative reviews. One time I was called scum. I actually saw hordes of traffic coming to my site through Analytics. I was like, “Oh, sweet. I'm going to go thank this person for mentioning my site.” And so I go there, and it's actually a forum, and this woman has this huge posting about me and how I was scum and how I was just cheating people and all this stuff and just obviously just trying to get money from people. Well, for one, I don't sell anything on my site or at least I didn't at the time, and I still don't to this day. That right there had me understanding that she was just misunderstood. But then again, it was just nasty stuff, and I thought about it for days. I was like, “Oh my. This is . . . ” It was just bad.
And then another guy, he . . . This is what he did. I'm telling you this story because whatever negative feedback you have is probably not as bad as this. So this guy leaves an incredibly long comment on one of my blog posts. It's calling me a fake. Calling me all these things. Just listing a number of things that he hated about me. And then I was like, “Okay, I'm just going to ignore this guy.” That's one piece of advice, although there are some things you could do beyond that. But a lot of times, if they're disrespectful to me, if these people are disrespectful, I don't pay any attention to them. That's one thing I've learned. If they're disrespectful, they got other problems. If they're crushing and they're mean and they're nasty, there's probably something deeper within them that's causing them to lash out, and you were just an easy target. I don't even pay attention to people who are disrespectful.
If they're on my blog or some place where I can control access to me, I just block their IP address. You go to WordPress in the back end, you can go to discussions, and you can actually leave or you can put a list of email addresses and IP addresses which you can get from the comment section. You can just grab their IP there and paste that in there. They'll never be able to leave a comment on your site again. Now if you wanted to get even deeper, you could go into your host, or ask your host provider to help you blacklist that IP so they can't even access your site anymore. Before I said they can't leave a comment. Now they can't even access your site. And that's helped a little bit for those incredibly disrespectful people who are just obviously trolls. But anyway, going back to the story, this guy leaves this comment. I just ignore it.
Next day, I have five emails from five friends in the online business space, all saying that this guy, same guy, left the same exact comment on their blogs. And these are blogs where I was featured in an interview or mentioned in the blog post or something. This guy went all over the internet, found anywhere I was mentioned, and left this nasty comment about me and who I was, warning their audiences about me. I was . . . Initially, I was just incredibly upset and just taken aback by this. I mean, this guy didn't even give me a chance to respond to him. This all happened within eight hours. The crazy thing was, I actually reached out to him, and this is something that you don't have to do and I don't always recommend doing it. This is something I learned from Gary Vaynerchuk. Again, this guy, I knew, was misunderstood. So I reached out to him and I said, “Hey, this is why you're wrong. I can show you everything. Here, let's talk, let's get on Skype.” He didn't want to get on Skype with me, and I initially found out that he just did that because he wanted more traffic to his site. How crazy, ridiculous.
Some people in this world just don't . . . There are bad people in this world. We all have to know that, and when you put yourself out there, you're exposing yourself to the potentially negative feedback and things like that. Especially if you've got to come across some really nasty comments on YouTube, for example. The thing about putting yourself out there online is, you're opening up to the world. You're putting all of yourself out there, and then people can leave comments. They can hide behind their avatar, they can hide behind a pen name. You don't know exactly who they are. It's really nasty sometimes, these comments that we get, because they just eat ourselves inside out. It's just bad.
The one thing I want to mention . . . When I heard this, what I'm about to tell you, this changed everything for me, so I'm hoping it'll change it for you because this is what's most important. Any time you spend thinking about these negative reviews and these negative comments and being crushed by it, all of that time is time your not spending appreciating those who do love what you're doing and providing value for them. One person can take all of that effort away that you should be putting into your existing audience, the people who love you. The people who could benefit for what you have to offer. Think about that. When I thought about that, I was like, “Wow. These guys don't deserve my time.” There's no point in trying to change their mind. Sometimes it might happen, especially if they're obviously misunderstood, but there's so many other people that I have to worry about. And so I want you to understand that too, John. There's so many more people who will benefit from what you have to share.
Now, like I mentioned before, if they're disrespectful, I don't even pay attention to them. But if they are respectful . . . There are negative comments that are respectful and constructive. Part of being a good leader and someone who cares about their audience is to also be a good listener, and you don't react right away. That's another tip for you. It's just . . . don't start writing a huge response because it's probably stuff that comes out of anger or frustration or fear, as opposed to, “Okay, what should I actually say and respond to if I should be responding?” So don't react right away, but if someone says something like, “I don't like that new thing that you added. It's so disgusting,” or, “Why would you do that? It's so stupid.” Don't just remove it or take it out right away. That's just one person's opinion, but use it as, okay, that's one person's opinion, let's see what everyone else has to say.
Or perhaps a better question is, is this person actually valid? How can I go explore this? And a lot of times, if they're respectful to you, those are the people that you shouldn't be too afraid of responding to and replying to because they're actually coming at an approach of helping you. They might have some negative things to say, and it might be hard to take because you put your hard work and effort into these things. But if they are being respectful in their way that they're sharing their negativity towards you or they're sharing their criticism, then those are the people that you actually would potentially want to reach out to, if you feel comfortable. To try and explore more, and show them that you care, and maybe you did something that you shouldn't have or maybe you did something in a way that wasn't done the best way possible. Let's go explore this, and let's try to solve this together.
A lot of times, if you have a big community, everyone will come together for you and just start talking about it. Again, you want to make sure you're always in control, but that's where you start asking the questions. You don't have other people do the talking for you, and you reply in a respectful manner. I always do that. If you ever see me get negative comments on my site, and it's respectful but it's still completely negative, I will often respond with, “Hey, Jim.” Not, “Sorry for anybody who's name Jim out there,” but, “Hey, Jim. Thank you so much for your honesty and concern. It really helps improve the community here when we can talk about these things openly and respectfully like this.” That sort of sets the tone for everything and also my initial response where I might be trying to clarify something.
A lot of times what I'll do if I'm in a situation where I get a negative comment and I'm wondering, “Okay, is this person valid or not?” I'll go to my friends and colleagues in my mastermind groups and say, “Hey, can you read this comment really quick? It's really nasty and maybe he's valid. What do you guys think? Should I be . . . Maybe he's just using harsh language, but should I actually follow through with this?” A lot of times, the perspective of other people will help you, and of course just talking about it with somebody just helps get the frustrations out which you probably have inside. Again, the most important thing . . . And just to reiterate is that every second that you spend thinking about these negative reviews, these people who leave you nasty comments, is a second that you're taking away from the people who you should be devoting your time to, who will benefit from what you have to offer, who deserve your time. These other guys, they don't deserve your time.
Lastly, and this is just a random though that just came to mind now, and that is these haters and this negative feedback, that is sometimes a good sign. Because if you're doing amazing things, if you're taking bold action and you're doing something different, that means there's going to be some people out there who won't agree with you. You're taking a stance. If you were to just try and please everybody, you're not going to be providing value to anybody. You can't please everybody. But make sure you are pleasing those who will benefit from what you have to say.
John, thank you so much for your question. Congrats to you for putting yourself out there and creating content. Anybody else out there listening, congrats to you for taking action and actually trying to make a difference in this world. I love you for that. Of course, John, an AskPat t-shirt is headed your way for having your question featured here on the show. And for those of you listening, if you have a question you'd like potentially featured here on the show, head on over to AskPat.com and ask me a question there. If you'd like to leave a review for AskPat on iTunes, that'll be extremely helpful. One more time, that's AskPat.com/iTunes. It'd be awesome if you did that whether it's a positive or negative review, as long as it's respectful. That's all I care about. Thanks so much, and have an awesome day.
And of course I'm going to leave you with a quote, as I always do. This quote is from Iris Merdoch. “A bad review is even less important than whether it is raining in Patagonia.”
I don't even know where Patagonia is. Actually I do, it's the tip of South America. The point is, bad reviews, don't let them get to you. There's so many other more important things to think about. Take care. Thanks so much. See you in the next episode.