If you’ve ever written for a blog, there’s a good chance you’ve felt the fear of the negative comment. Whether or not you’ve actually had to face a strong dissenter on a post you’ve written, I’ll bet you’ve at least thought about the possibility that someone could vehemently disagree with whatever it is you’ve written.

Truth be told, if you write enough, chances are you’ll come across someone that’s totally opposed to your ideas. But if you handle the situation with a bit of care, it’s not such a bad thing. Here are a few tips on how to react when someone writes something negative on your blog.

Unless Offensive, Don’t Delete the Comment

Unless the comment uses derogatory language or is blatantly offensive, err on the side of not deleting it. If you appear to be censoring the comments on your blog, it could negatively impact your readers’ willingness to share their thoughts.

Additionally, negative comments can be a unique opportunity to publicly display how you handle dissent. View this as an opportunity to be used to your advantage.

Respond Whenever Possible

You should always try to respond to blog comments, especially the negative ones. But your response will dictate how the exchange progresses, so be thoughtful in how you approach it.

If the negative commenter simply criticized your post without providing specifics, you could ask for some details. Or you could simply say something like “Sorry you didn’t like this post.  I hope you like the next one better.”

If they did give some specific points of disagreement, engage around whatever it is they said. Your goals here are really twofold:

  1. To engage a visitor that didn’t like what you had to say (the obvious goal)
  2. To demonstrate to others that you are actively listening and are open to criticism (the less obvious goal)

This second goal is equally if not more important than the first. Thoughtfully responding to a negative comment can make others feel more comfortable offering their thoughts and reflect positively on you in the process.

Try to Avoid Defensiveness

When we feel attacked, many of us get defensive. It can feel very personal when someone disagrees with what it is you have to say. But remember, your response will dictate how the interaction progresses. If you make it personal, it will likely escalate. If your interaction becomes a series of personal attacks instead of discussing an issue, you’ll likely forfeit the respect of many of your readers.

Instead, respectfully disagree. There’s nothing wrong with defending your opinions, but make sure you’re discussing the topic at hand, even if the commenter is focused on your lack of worth to society.

Ask Follow Up Questions

One of the best (and easiest) ways to engage negative commenters is to ask follow up questions aimed at understanding their perspective. Doing so helps to clearly demonstrate your willingness to engage specifically around the points of dissent. Make it your priority to first understand their point of view before responding in defense of your own. Fleshing out their perspective will help reduce the number of assumptions you make in your own responses and puts the onus on them to defend their negative comments.

Additionally, asking follow up questions can serve as a way to invite others into the conversation. If they see you are productively debating a particular topic, they may feel like they have something to add to the discussion.

Know When To Stop

At a certain point, you may reach an impasse where it just makes sense to stop the back and forth. Maybe the conversation is getting way too personal. Or maybe it’s clear you’ve reached the core disagreement and neither party is willing to concede.

Either way, there’s a point where the conversation should end. If you feel like you can’t offer anything new without responding with a personal attack, it’s time to walk away.

Have you ever engaged in a disagreement via blog comments, either as the admin of the blog or as a commenter? What have you seen work well? What have you seen fall flat? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.