When you get negative unsolicited feedback, how does it make you feel? Do you get defensive? Do you react or respond? Do you let it get the better of you? Do you change the way you do things, or dig in your heels deeper?
It’s been said that you know you’ve “made it” when people start despising you, which is cool, but most of the time does not feel that way. Big companies get negative social media posts and reviews by angry customers. It is, unfortunately, part of business and life. It doesn’t have to own you or your feelings. Even though they can push your buttons, you can lock your keyboard.
I get many comments on my articles. Although most are positive, not all of them are. I received a “nasty gram” from someone through my website. I’ll leave out the name, in case it actually was a real name; and I’m guessing the email address doesn’t work, but he did include it.
Here was the email exactly how it came in:
Here’s my question!: Darren:
Watched the video clip where your friend exacts ”humor revenge” on you (Young folks call it ”getting punk’d”). I winced the whole time.
Gotta ask: Is it possible you bombed as a comedian not because of a deficiency in speaking skills, but because you are paralyzingly, tearfully, hopelessly tone-deaf to humorous thought? Seriously, printing a Porsche Parking” sign? (groan) Printing a fake custom license plate? (ugh) A blooper reel of you next to your neighborhood”s gated entrance? Whoa, is nothing sacred?
If it’s any consolation, you have brought a small amount of misery to a critic’s otherwise pleasant evening.
Name: _____ ________
Here is the video to which he refers:
How would you feel if you received that email? What would you do? How would you reply? Would you react or respond? Had I received this email early in my career, I would have been crushed. I would have taken it personally. Can you see that it says more about the person who sent it than it does me? Years ago, I would have gotten defensive and lashed out. That “reaction” would have defined me. Back then, I would have been insecure.
I had fun creating the video — it was me being me and it cracked up my friend Linda. That was my intention. It is my sense of humor. It is not for everyone. Humor is subjective, I know that. I remember hearing an interview with Mike Myers, in which he said that when he created Austin Powers, his goal was to crack up his dad. His dad loved that kind of humor.
I know I personally never found Billy Crystal’s stand-up comedy funny, but as an actor in City Slickers he cracked me up. I still respect and admire his success.
Rosita Perez, CPAE was a mentor to me. She was funny and known for doing amazing keynotes with her Spanish guitar and songs. One day, she was booked by a client and asked to leave her guitar at home. She responded to the client, “If you don’t want me to bring my guitar, you really don’t want me.” She turned the speech down.
The bigger question to you would be… Do you change how you do things based on one person’s unsolicited critique? If you have never read Teddy Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena, it’s very powerful. It’s easy to be a critic, but it’s much more challenging to be the Man in the Arena.
I’m not saying that negative feedback should all be ignored. Look at the “intention.” If it’s intended to be helpful, then consider it. If, like this email, it’s intended to cut you down with no redeeming value, let it go. Remember that as you gain more success, you will find more resentment. It may be a small percentage, but those kind of people tend not to be quiet.
Normally, I wouldn’t give something like this too much attention. However, I felt that it may be helpful to you, as we all have critics in various areas of our lives. Did I respond? Yes, I did — and with good intentions. I really wish this person well.
Here is my response:
Wow… seriously? Sorry you feel the need to tell someone they suck. Hope you have no plans to be a motivational speaker. It doesn’t bother me. Humor is subjective.
Why put energy into something you don’t like? If you try to please everyone, you please no one.
I’m just being me. If you don’t like what you are watching on YouTube, change the channel.
Did I ever do something to you to cause you to have that email address?
I wish you well…
Now, I never heard back and I’m not surprised. It’s OK. The email address bounced. I believe it was just meant to send a message and he/she didn’t ever really create that email address. They saw “the field” to input something in and took the opportunity.
It may also be possible that someone in your audience, or a person who lashes out on email, is hurting in some other area of their life. Someone may have just hurt them, and you are just the “unfortunate person” who was their next contact. Either way, we can’t take things like this personally. Sometimes though, it’s easier said than done. Reminders are always good.
As your own success increases and more and more people love you, be aware that the number of people who don’t love you will increase, too. Will you be willing to take more criticism as your success grows?
What are your thoughts? Please share them here on my blog.
Stage time, Stage time, Stage Time,
Darren LaCroix, CSP, AS
2001 World Champion of Public Speaking
P.S. Commit to and give more attention to those who encourage you. Some people will cut you down, and others will build you up. Who do you find yourself talking about more? Be honest. When they push your buttons, it’s up to us to lock our own keyboard.
Liza, whom I mentioned in another article, put one of my humor exercises to action, which does my heart good. And, she got laughs! It works when you do!
I bought two CD’s… Humor 101 and Secrets of a World Champion Coach, but it was the humour that I used… I used the formula of “3.”
I did a speech about the Convention and Vegas. “I couldn’t wait to see the bright lights… the tall buildings, the… hookers…” I had a 20-second laugh in a group of 12!
It was awesome!!
Congrats to Liza… She did it! Hooker humor!
More about the tools she used:
Get them all, check out: Mastering Public Speaking
Oh, gosh, that was mean. Thank you for sharing with us and demonstrating the proper way of handling it, Darren. It definitely made me prepared and stronger while looking forward.
…and sometimes, they are just trolls.
Let us hope this was some “mindless, hopefully will grow up soon” teenager in which case I give them a few years to grow up and come to their senses. I’d hate to think it was a grown man or woman. Whoever it is, he/she is looking to pull down someone to their level. Picked the wrong person! DARREN LACROIX IS, HAPPENS TO BE & ALWAYS WILL BE, A GENIUS!!
Darren, let’s face it – there are a few things that you do suck at:
revenge; retaliation; being mean; making people feel bad; putting others down
Thanks for sticking with what you’re good at.
I think people with that much anger need help and probably won’t ever get it because they think they are great – how sad.
I agree that his nasty email says more about him than it says about you. I used that very line about 4 years ago. I had a frenemy who often took shots at me in group settings because, obviously, they were jealous of my abilities. One day, this person did it in a group of people, and the mean comment caused a few of the listeners to gasp – it was THAT MEAN. I turned to them and said “that comment says more about you than it does about me” and oure relationship changed for the better. I share that comment with anyone that can use it…because it’s SO TRUE.
Way to take that “feedback” and make it a lesson for all of us to learn from 🙂
The beauty of nasty emails like that is that it brings out the good in other people. I’m sure you’ll receive plenty of comments from others saying how much they enjoy your teachings. Most speakers appreciate your material, Darren, so thanks for putting yourself out there and sharing! You have inspired me to work on being funny – I used to think it was something you were born with, and your material helped me see that it was something that could be learned.
All that negative energy! I feel sorry for the guy/gal.
I believe the good you do in the world comes back to you when you need it. Unfortunately some of that negative attitude and energy also comes back to those who emanate it.
Nice response on your side – and good insights for us all.
Darren, I was really moved by this story, and especially impressed at your response. The fact that you would take time to respond and make it about the writer’s needs shows your sincerity in wanting to help others. You’re a class act.
I agree with you totally. We can’t let the few distractors keep us from our mission. If we do, we might as well become politicians.
I gave a speech recently on a very controversial subject. When developing it, I was worrying so hard about the response I might get from a few audience members that I started to stray away from my message. Once I put those thoughts away, I was able to deliver the speech that I wanted to deliver.
You’re absolutely right. Each of us has the opportunity to switch channels, websites, stations, venues, etc. anytime we want.
LOVE the video with you & Linda. Two friends having fun…what could be better? So sorry your detractor expressed themselves as they did. I’ve been told that cowards hide behind anonymity (and fake e-mail addresses), but perhaps they are in pain and needed a way to vent. Looks like you were the convenient avenue. You can forget it and move on. Just another consequence of STAGE TIME!
I read what you had to say to this person, but wanted to comment that I am personally going through the same delima at work. A senior Engineer at work sometimes gives me a hard time and always shoots down any success I achieve. I wondered a lot how I should react to that. Yes, sometimes I get frustrated and bring some of that frustration to my home. Sometimes I go for a hard run out in the track. I forgot to mention this guy is very influential at work and boss listens to him; something that makes this ordeal much harder to deal with.
Thank you Darren! In sharing your PROCESS you reminded us/me of a great tool: RESPOND instead of REACT! It shows your true Radiance!
Big hug, Barbel 🙂
Wow, thanks so much for sharing. I tend to be the kind of person that takes things to heart. Thanks for reminding my serious side of me to lighten up and just let me do my thing. I’m still at the beginning of my career, so it’s nice to be reminded that it’s gonna happen so I can be prepared for for them and take it in stride.
I like to think of myself as a “laugher” at heart. It my passion to share laughter with others so they can increase their laughter too.
You are wonderful and you do make a large impact in the world!
Darren, this is a wonderful, heartfelt post, and I really appreciate it. What comes out of people is what’s in them. That’s why what comes out of you is genuine goodness. Your post is a message for everyone in every industry who has ever dared to be great. Thank you my friend.
Just sounds like a severe case of “porsche envy” to me!!
What a way to turn around a situation in your favour.
You are not only funny Darren, you are smart too.
Thank you for helping us know that unkind people attack anyone – proven professionals along with those of us working hard to get better in our careers as well as volunteers. Your advice to separate negative feedback – excellent!. I need to ‘let it go’ in order to grow.
It is more surprising when hurtful comments come from a Toastmaster…as it appears they forgot the Toastmaster’s promise where it says ‘to provide fellow members with helpful, contstructive evaluations.’
Craig – love the phrase ‘ what comes out of people is what’s in them.’
You both are inspirational!
Keep doing what you enjoy doing no matter what!
Xiao hua Anna Song
One of my favorite quotes on how to evaluate criticism comes from King Solomon. He said, “Like a flitting sparrow or a fluttering swallow, an undeserved curse goes nowhere.” I think that’s what happened in your case, Darren–it went nowhere.
And here comes the party pooper (me).
Hi Darren! 😉
– I find it entertaining how everyone rushed to reassure Darren that he is indeed funny and humble and whatnot. To me, it did not look as if Darren’s ego was damaged in the incident. Why are we trying so hard to salvage his self-esteem if it was not jeopardized, to begin with? I don’t think Darren ever was bothered by hecklers and doubters. Which is why I rarely write to/about him 😉
– Anybody besides me noticed a supreme exhibition of Darren’s marketing genius? Never to miss a publicity opening, he even used an attack against him as an excuse to drive all of us to his blog and to his YouTube clip. Bravo! I’m taking notes. By the way, my own blog is here: ….
– And did you ask what my thoughts were, Darren? Even if you did not, I’ll share. When someone tells me things I’d rather not hear, those that bother me or offend me, those I strongly believe to be wrong etc – I’m trying to figure out what did that person possibly see in me that I failed to see myself. The easiest thing for me is to dismiss such opinions as malicious noise. Much harder thing is to try to understand that other person’s view. More than once, after my anger cooled, I grudgingly admitted that my attacker had a point. And that I could use his diatribe for at least two constructive developments:
1. work on myself
2. plot a perfect revenge against the bastard who dared to irk me
And in case you wonder, yes, it’s really me. Thank you for everything my friend.
Here’s my take on marketing and publicity. The only possible good use for either is to help other people. Without that, they’re useless.
Now for the good uses of marketing and publicity. Some things need to be publicised for exactly that purpose. To build awareness of conditions and disabilities, for instance, so the wider community can understand and support those people. Injustices – so people can become aware of those and take action. And also to let people know that they are not alone in whatever they do face – being the victim of hurtful comments is one of those things. And to share your own experiences with people that can help in those situations. Each of us has some experience that can be beneficial to others in some situation, and I know there have been times in my own life when knowing that someone else has gone through the same thing has been helpful, and learning how other people have dealt with the same issue has been positively empowering.
What you’ve done is taken meanness by others, and publically used your experience of learning to cope with that to inspire others to continue to thrive and grow and NOT let it get to them. And actually, whilst reading your comments I got to think about how hurtful criticism has sometimes been in my own life – particularly at PRECISELY those points in my development that you have mentioned – when I have just started to forge ahead with some area. At such points it’s easier to listen to critics and get discouraged instead of believing in yourself and ignoring them.
I’m sure I’m not the only one reading your comments who has reflected this way. In fact, I would be surprised if most people couldn’t identify with them or would be thinking exactly what I was thinking as I was reading. Yes, you deal with criticism well………now. But I imagine that is the end of the journey and that it was probably pretty hard to deal with early on…….and that others in the public eye would have had the same issue to grapple with at some stage and learn to deal with. So you are sharing with us lessons that YOU have learned personally.
Keep doing it, Darren. It’s very easy to learn a life lesson and keep quiet about it. It takes guts and character to speak up and use the experience to encourage others.
And….I thought the videos in question were a lot of fun. Though you did look very attached to that Porsche…… LOL
Nice job! Some people just need a little extra dose of kindness given back to them. Who knows what battles this person is dealing with? “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” Plato
Bravo! Share the love.
I try to look for the motivation – some people mean well but aren’t good on their delivery. Others are just mean. This particular fellow was just mean and even fancies himself as clever with a phrase. Even so, it’s important to remember mean people are hurting and there is no value to piling on their pain. If I need to respond I usually wish them well in dealing with their issues and perhaps point them to link on the life of Victor Frankl. If you need to talk about people, talk about a mentor – you’ll probably never have to talk about a mean person, ever again. Life is a series of experiences. Take what is useful from each and don’t worry about the rest. Aloha 🙂
Very well done for publishing this. I bet two things.
Who ever it was doesn’t have the courage to say that to you in person. The behaviour of hiding is the behaviour of a bully.
I bet they are hurting somewhere in their life that we should offer support and sympathy. Because it must be bad.
And finally the greatest way to provide feedback to this negative stuff is to wrap it up in …. it isn’t the person I don’t like .. it’s the behaviour (but I guess you know that).
For what it’s worth. I learned that if I have to deal with someone and the subject area is “tricky” then I I refuse to deal with it by email. By phone is the ONLY way I will correspond. If you are serious about a proper resolution, that’s the only way in my view.
Keep up the good work Darren. Keep the good stuff coming. Gordon
Punchy newsletter/article – but a valuable one for all of us, I feel.
I’m reminded of the quote from Dr Seuss:
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
I used to work for a politician who was a profoundly shy and sensitive man (in private). When he got lambasted in the local papers from time to time, to my astonishment, he didn’t bat an eyelid. He just shrugged – ‘it’s nothing personal – it can’t be. They don’t even know me.’
Sage advice for any of us ‘in the public eye’!
Keep up the good work and best as ever,
Whoever sent that email must have been dropped on his head as a child.
Keep up the good work, Darren!
I enjoyed the video. It’s great to have fun with friends, and I hope I can do more for my friends 🙂
Thank you for healing a negative person with positive response 😉
Great example of lemonade from lemons. You took a mean-spirited personal attack (you can’t call his comments a review) and created a helpful, informative blog post. Blogs are insatiable and this fellow helped you by giving you material for yours. An important lesson in the value of reflecting before reacting.
Brilliant response, Darren:
Thanks for being transparent. Many people find it hard to be vulnerable. I’m not sure who I learned this from, it may have been Fripp. “I’m never as good as my biggest fan or as bad as my biggest detractor.”
I thought the video was cute and the lesson practical.
Thank you Darren for sending that timely and wise email on dealing with people who just want to criticize and bring you down. I am one of those people who is really sensitive to negative feedback and I am learning to do better. Distinguishing between feedback that can be painful but helpful vs. feedback that is just painful and mean is key. It empowers me to stick to my own goals and to deal with the critics who do not understand my purpose.
Darren: Thanks for this interesting blog. As you can imagine, I’ve received my fair share of rude, abusive comments in the last 25 years. After one particularly stinging comment, my husband said to me “for all the kudos you get, you’re bound to get some mean comments, concentrate on the good.” You are a kind and caring man and you are the first to offer kudos to anyone. Thanks for all you do. As for the person who left the comments: please find something better to do with your life.
When I see stuff like this, I always go to what a mentor once told me: Hurt people hurt people.
When you think about it in that way, mean comments lose their power very quickly.
I take my approach toward these situations from Mr. Showmanship…Liberace! “I cry all the way to the bank!”
Congratulations on your many successes. Darren you inspire me because in spite of things that did not go well for you early on. You kept learning and growing and you continue learning a growing.
I have had people in my life who did not like me, who did not like how I do things….and there have been other who admire me too much. Both are a bit awkward for me.
I remember one fellow who was excellent at managing time.. I was a definite thorn in his side… I tend to run overtime.. when ever I see a questioning look on someone’s face I add to the agenda.
This person who I know was annoyed by any successes I had…. said, “You know I’ve never voted for you.” He was wondering what others saw that he did not.
I admired his abilities… he was locked into his own way of operating in the world… thinking it was “the best way”. Other ways were not good enough.
That man helped me to understand others better… I hope I did the same for him. A variety of styles in a group is powerfully beautiful, somewhat frustrating, and works best!
I hope that man with so much meanness is OK. A lot of people struggle in life to get along. They think if they are perfect. Everyone should honor them.
While asking for help, knowing we are not perfect, to keep on trying anyway, is often what brings others to us. There are lots of people who are smart. Humility is also good idea.
I love the concept of locking the key board on button pushers! I’ll remember that next time. You responded to that “critic” better than I would have. I would of just moved on and forgot about him. He doesn’t deserve your energy thinking about him Darren. Critics only poke at others’ skill because they don’t have any. Look how much you have grown personally since then.