How I Juice Negative Blog Comments For Your Benefit

by Melissa Karnaze

squeezerMy job is keep this place safe for you, the reader.

Not just any old reader, but the reader.

Someone who cares about response ability and creating their life as a mindful construct.

You’re the person I’m writing for, and anyone else who’s open-minded or politefully curious.

But all the other readers — the skeptics, the technically-flamers, the incoherent arguers — I’m not writing for them.

They’re not here to work with their anger constructively, take care of their Inner Child, or practice greater mindfulness.

So I don’t cater to them.

But I do juice their comments — for your benefit.

Because I’m big on emotional resilience. Which includes transmuting adversary into high-calorie growth fuel.

So when I approve an unhappy comment, I make sure to work it so that you at least can learn from it.

Learn what?

Ah, many things.

Like how to healthily deflect, identify argument bait, ask for constructive criticism rather than reacting to naysaying, and stay on topic when responding to an insult.

And that’s just the beginning.

And that’s just what I love about blogging.

How it’s only beginning.

The richness of blogspace

Blogs are fertile soil for the future of social interaction.

Instead of just inhabiting the same virtual space for conversation, we can data mine virtual conversations to really get inside other people’s heads.

To understand them, and ourselves, in much greater detail. To bridge perspectives, and make positive lasting change in the world.

The infancy of blogspace

Of course, right now blogging is in its infancy.

Bloggers are just learning how to interact with readers, many of whom are anonymous. And some of them are just learning how to merge blogging with business — so they can keep doing what they love for a living.

This means netiquette is slowly shaping.

Bloggers are figuring out how exactly to treat their readers and commenters. Which include the people who are their fans… and their haters. Yes, those ones who show up with a comment to ruffle some feathers. Or to draw some attention. Or to simply pass the time.

Some bloggers flame back against nasty comments, have strict comment policies, delete comments, shut off all comments, or do nothing.

And some try to find a middle ground by defending themselves through argument or snide remarks. Which usually backfires.

Because as long as you’re belaboring how unqualified your anonymous commenter’s opinion is because he/she/it likes to be called “kitty427pinkize”… you distract your fan base from what’s really important: cultivating a constructive conversation on your blogspace.

A well-kept blogspace

The comment section of a blog requires the most upkeep.

Which means it’s one place where a blogger’s true colors show.

It’s where they either “walk the talk” of their articles, or impair their integrity in some way.

A well-kept blogspace is hosted by a blogger with integrity made of steel.

Meaning they’re so damn connected to their message (the theme and purpose of their blog) that every negative comment is shaped as a tool for sharing that message.

By inspiring the blogger to refine it, clarify on certain points, better understand and address the adversarial position, develop thicker skin (which means greater self-confidence), or have the courage to say the message even louder.

The host of a well-kept blogspace needs to:

    • Recognize destructive deflection, and employ constructive deflection where appropriate. What’s the difference? Read here.
    • Sniff out skeptics from the genuinely curious, and understand what makes them tick.
    • Trace the emotional trigger words and phrases in negative comments, so as to better comprehend them. So as to better arm their true audience for resilience.
    • Consider all criticism, which requires a foundation of confidence, and then sort the snubs from the genuine challenges.
    • Not just walk — but live — their talk (or online publications).
    • Be in touch with their own emotions, especially the ones that get triggered by whiners. So they can always respond with a handful of zen.
    • Work with all of those triggered emotions, especially the ones that will indirectly lead to a clearer understanding and appreciation for the message.
    • Keep personal venting off the blogspace, unless prefaced in a respectful way.
    • Respond to negative commenters with the intent of re-directing the discussion back to the really important topics.

How I keep this blogspace

All of those objectives are my focus when responding to negative comments here.

The “talk” of Mindful Construct is response ability.

So to walk it, I need to use negative comments as stepping stones to greater growth and awareness.

Just like your negative emotions need to springboard you to greater mindfulness through emotional resilience.

Consider this blogspace as a training ground. It’s a microcosm of what you face in the world everyday.

How negative-comment juice is nutritious

There are people in your life that try to deflect your thoughts and opinions, invalidate your feelings, make you feel inferior, pressure you into arguments, or take advantage of you in some other way.

(These people are usually at war with themselves, and not very functional in how they lead their lives.)

These dysfunctional and often codependent patterns of communicating and relating directly lead to dysfunctional societies and a royally messed up world.

So all the negative comments here are actually to your benefit because by digesting them at the comfort of your own computer, you can understand how they are dysfunctional and how there are many ways to respond.

This then translates to how you recognize and respond to the “negative commenters” in your own life. Who could be your boss, mother, brother, girlfriend, husband, daughter, or neighbor.

Why I appreciate negative comments

Believe it or not, but negative comments here give me inspiration.

They remind me of why I’m even writing here at all.

I write here because people think they can get away with invalidating others as well as their own true feelings.

Well, no one can get way with it. We all pay the price in the end.

And I’m here to say, try as they might, they won’t take advantage of you when you are emotionally resilient and healthy.

When your life is a mindful construct, you’re a pretty tough cookie.

And you’re armed to do great things in this world. To be the change of this world.

How I juice negative blog comments

In the future, I’ll be writing in-depth about cases on this blog where I juiced a negative comment for the constructive good.

It will give you a chance to look deeper, deconstruct argument tactics, trace emotions back to logic, and of course, become more resilient.

Get your feed to receive notification when new articles in the series are published. They’ll also be linked to in the section below.

And let me know if there are any other online discussions you’d like to see deconstructed.

Mindful Construct is a modest blogspace; there’s tons of fodder out there on the interwebs…

Mindful Construct case studies

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Max Peto February 4, 2010 at 9:28 pm

It pleases me to hear you make an effort to put negative comments into a healthy, constructive perspective, Melissa. I have found negative comments to sometimes be discouraging or hurtful. However, more recently I have learned to both consider them seriously, and not take them personally.

Deliberate improvement can only occur if one first recognizes that something needs improving – and being accepting to criticism is helpful in identifying things that may need improving. Sorting out the intention of the one who has criticized is a different challenge. I think good friends and well-meaning people criticize in a considerate, mindful manner, while others who are not so well-intentioned may criticize for various reasons, perhaps often for their own benefit (to feel better about themselves). And the latter seem to sometimes say things with the intention to cause harm – perhaps these types are best ignored.

Haider February 5, 2010 at 2:24 am

Hi Melissa,

A very timely post (for me).

Yesterday I received a negative comment on an old blog. The gist of the comment was: “Bla bla. Worst poem ever.”

My initial reaction was: How can I milk this comment so I can learn the most from it? I told my wife about it and how I found it very interesting. She thought I should just ignore it.

What I found interesting about it is that the poem I wrote was about a religious topic, which seemed to have struck a nerve with the commenter. He didn’t think the poem was bad, but could not tolerate its message. But rather than express his disagreement in a respectful manner, he decided to be disrespectful.

This triggered a string of ideas about how we understand religion, relate to it and treat those who disagree with our religious views. Had I simply ignored the comment or condemned the commenter for being an idiot, I wouldn’t have walked away with a lesson to learn from, and I’d be following in the footsteps of the commenter rather than walk the path of my own principles.

I haven’t approved or responded to the comment yet, but I thought I should write a blog post to explain the mindset that could lead to such comments.

I think we’re on the same wavelength here. ;-)

Kelley Mitchell February 6, 2010 at 9:22 am

Hi Melissa. I had been thinking about how you handle comments especially after your Dark Side of Mindful Meditation post. I was impressed with the way you handle the them and wanted to tell you so. It’s interesting to learn that it’s part of your plan to post the negative ones and that you help us learn from them.

Heidi February 8, 2010 at 6:59 am

The way you have handled comments opened up a different way of thinking for me. Sometimes insight isn’t enough – examples in action can make a huge difference by modeling a better way. Thank you!

Melissa Karnaze February 9, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Max, great to see you again. Both considering criticism and taking it seriously is a trick indeed, and it takes a lot of practice. I think most of the time, criticism is mostly about the criticizer’s personal issues and insecurities, codependencies, etc. This is because most of the time criticism isn’t asked for — it’s just forced upon a person.

But, that doesn’t mean that feelings can’t get hurt. I usually work with the (hurt) feelings first, figure out why I had my reaction, and then go back and assess where the other person’s coming from and to what extent I can use their criticism to help refine my message/thinking/clarity.

Ignoring criticism is a fine line to draw. At some point, it’s necessary for holding boundaries. But often, it’s easy to pretend like you can ignore just because you don’t want to feel the effects of hearing it. The difference between the two is something I’m paying more attention to with the comments on this blog.

Haider, so great to hear about more synchronicity!

Milk is another term I love to use in this regard. So glad you mentioned it, ’cause milk conflicted with the orange squeezing image, so I opted to keep it out. :P

That would be a great exercise to do on your blog, would you pop a linky here if and when you do post it?

Had I simply ignored the comment or condemned the commenter for being an idiot, I wouldn’t have walked away with a lesson to learn from, and I’d be following in the footsteps of the commenter rather than walk the path of my own principles.

Exactly, it’s all about you and your emotional reslience in the end. Someone throws a curve ball. Okay… so are you gonna use it or let it zip by? Because with the right juicing/milking/reframing you can pick apart that (critical) frame of mind and expand your own perspective.

Plus, it takes balls to not run away from what might look dangerous. And that builds confidence. ;)

Thanks Kelley, yes, the plan was originally to talk about choosing function over dysfunction, especially when it comes to communication. And then it happened that interacting with the negative comments was a natural way to provide tangible examples.

As it turns out, the negative commenters are doing lots of the legwork by providing excellent examples. And that they are on-topic to the articles makes it even cooler!

Heidi, that’s so great to hear. Especially as I respect your journey, insight, and blog. :) I very much look forward to further nitpicking in the future!

Sara February 14, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Found you through Copyblogger and so glad I did. This post hits home with me, since I tend to take negative comments to heart. The phrase “Netiqeutte” sums it all up nicely, thank you.

Melissa Karnaze February 17, 2010 at 11:55 am

Hi Sara, I’m glad you found your way here. :)

Netiquette is such a work in progress… and bloggers are in a good position to see that!

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