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.
As you may know, at the bottom of my newsletter, I post emails that I receive each week. Although most are positive, not all of them are. Last week 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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4G69Z2tsykM
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 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 last week, put one of the 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, Stage Time University Presentation Mastery Member