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Five Inappropriate Ways to Respond to Criticism

By: Guest | March 8, 2012 | 
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Today’s guest post is written by Margie Clayman.

A large part of marketing, PR, and online communication rests upon how you respond to criticism.

Some respond to criticism with grace, understanding, and a desire to improve, or at least a desire to see the world from someone’s perspective other than their own.

Others, however, respond to criticism in ways that makes them look really, really bad.

The ramifications of these silly mistakes can be extensive and far-reaching.

I’ve pulled some parallel reactions from fictional characters to illustrate my point.

  1. “Last I checked, Theoden, not Aragorn, was King of Rohan.” ~ King Theoden Some people respond to criticism (constructive though it may be) in a fashion akin to this king. In non-Tolkienesque language, one might say, “This is my house, yo.” This really doesn’t have a positive effect on spectators of the conversation. Chest pumping is something you often see on nature shows about chimpanzees. Surely we can do better?
  2. “Or did you think I wouldn’t know what a Eugoogaly was?” ~Zoolander Zoolander is trying to say the word “Eulogy” but of course he doesn’t REALLY know what the word means. Sometimes, in response to criticism, people will attempt to make a come-back only to reveal further they really don’t know what they’re talking about. This can convince people who previously thought well of you that maybe they chose the wrong team.
  3. **Blows up person who questioned him** “Never talk to me like that again! ~Evil,  from “Time Bandits” Talk about an ineffective way to respond to criticism. Of course, in the real world pointing at someone and having them blow up does not really happen (as far as I’m aware), but there are ways to have a similar impact. Unfollowing someone on a social network, beginning to troll someone’s Facebook wall, or spreading rumors about your critic are all great ways to make them feel like you are blowing them up. You don’t want to act the same way EVIL does, do you?
  4. “I know you are but what am I?” ~Pee Wee Herman Believe it or not, I’ve seen exchanges literally at this level of maturity in the professional world. Shocking, isn’t it? One person offers criticism and says something like, “Maybe you are just inexperienced in this.” The recipient of this comment then responds with something like, “No, I think you’re really inexperienced.” I’m all for a good playground fight but, well, that’s so 30 years ago.
  5. “Run Away! Run away!” ~Monty Python’s “Knights of the Round TableOK, the knights are not really being criticized, but rather they are having farm animals thrown in their general direction. Still, running away is a common reaction to criticism. Some organizations will delete critical comments from their blog or Facebook page, for example. Others will simply not respond and just let the criticism sit there. These are the worst possible things you can do in the world of communications.

These are the most common, most inappropriate responses to criticism I see in the professional world, particularly in the online world. What would you add to this list?

Margie Clayman is the director of client development at Clayman Advertising, Inc., her family’s full-service marketing firm. Margie is the third generation of her family to work there! Margie blogs at www.margieclayman.com. You can follow her on Twitter @margieclayman.

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78 Comments on "Five Inappropriate Ways to Respond to Criticism"

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davevandewalle
davevandewalle
4 years 2 months ago

I AM WEARING A SHIRT THAT SAYS “I KNOW YOU ARE BUT WHAT AM I?” RIGHT NOW.

margieclayman
margieclayman
4 years 2 months ago

 @davevandewalle I know you are. But I’m not.:)

joshduv
joshduv
4 years 2 months ago

@margieclayman Great post!!

MargieClayman
MargieClayman
4 years 2 months ago

@joshduv thank you!

solete
solete
4 years 2 months ago

Your post got me thinking about how to best handle criticism. Came across this video of how author Brad Meltzer dealt his bad book reviews. Pretty funny. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svvoh66s2F0

margieclayman
margieclayman
4 years 2 months ago

 @solete thanks for sharing, Anne! 🙂

KDillabough
4 years 2 months ago

 @solete Thanks for sharing that Anne: it’s so good! Gonna share

MargieClayman
MargieClayman
4 years 2 months ago

@TomPick thanks Tom! 🙂

MorganBarnhart
4 years 2 months ago
Number 2 just made me laugh because I LOVE that movie. 🙂    I have seen number 3 more often than the others (though the others do appear pretty often), and it blows me away that they could think that’s a good idea.   I can understand being sensitive to criticism, especially when it’s about something you have put your sweat and tears into, I have been sensitive a few times before. But then I realized, that person is saying those things for a reason; it can’t be all about what *I* think. If I’m going to be in the business… Read more »
margieclayman
margieclayman
4 years 2 months ago

 @MorganBarnhart Well said, Morgan. Thank you so much for weighing in! 

Krista
4 years 2 months ago

Wow, you must seriously have been in my head because I have been dealing with a colleague who does not respond well to feedback– constructive or otherwise! This particular person probably falls into the first category of terrioriality and defense of the status quo. I think I’ll probably giggle to myself next time I hear them react to some feedback or new ideas because I’ll be thinking of the Lord of the Rings!

margieclayman
margieclayman
4 years 2 months ago

 @Krista I was. I only write guest posts when I’ve invaded the brains of several in the site’s audience. Is that wrong? 🙂

TheJackB
4 years 2 months ago
Poor Theoden, man gets hornswoggled for years by Grima and Saruman- finally comes back and gets his butt handed to him while Aragorn gets to wield the sword that was broken and a crown.   Not to mention a beautiful elf wife and the eternal gratitude of middle earth. That is the sort of comeback we all want, now isn’t it.    Damn, you have my fantasy and sci fi blood boiling now, want to rail on about how George Lucas tried to rape my childhood and why Twilight should be destroyed and never mentioned again.   But I’ll do… Read more »
jasonkonopinski
4 years 2 months ago

 @TheJackB Would you like this lovely Horcrux? 

TheJackB
4 years 2 months ago

 @jasonkonopinski Ooh, Shiny…

margieclayman
margieclayman
4 years 2 months ago

 @TheJackB You do have to feel bad for Theoden. He sort of gets the really really really raw end of the deal. 
 
I said that louder than you said your stuff, by the way. You just can’t hear me from the other side of the country 🙂

TheJackB
4 years 2 months ago

 @margieclayman He definitely does, sometimes it is not so good being king. Ask the woman who runs this joint if it is lonely at the top. 😉

margieclayman
margieclayman
4 years 2 months ago

 @TheJackB I recall reading *something* about that….:)

jasonkonopinski
4 years 2 months ago

Taking your stripes and being criticized is hard enough when it’s in private, let alone publicly. Digital communications and social has an amplifying effect on personalities – and that’s not always a good thing. 😉 

margieclayman
margieclayman
4 years 2 months ago

 @jasonkonopinski Preach it brother!

MargieClayman
MargieClayman
4 years 2 months ago

@jasonkonopinski thank ya!

KenMueller
4 years 2 months ago

Great examples, Margie, and anyone who quotes Tolkien and Monty Python gets mad props from me, yo.

margieclayman
margieclayman
4 years 2 months ago

 @KenMueller Well thanks, Ken. I do what I can 🙂

Sean McGinnis
4 years 2 months ago

Anyone who works in a Time Bandits reference is my kinda woman, Margie!
 
I can turn left!
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLRqyV7Wn04

margieclayman
margieclayman
4 years 2 months ago

 @Sean McGinnis haha 🙂 I…I’m sure there are lots of people…I mean, there have to be… other people who can’t turn…who can’t turn left. 

rosemaryoneill
4 years 2 months ago

 @margieclayman OMG I have Time Bandits memorized, and I thought I was all by myself in a geeky little corner.  “You haven’t had a good idea for thousands of years….!”

dizzycatdesign
dizzycatdesign
4 years 2 months ago

@ginidietrich @margieclayman Great article! Worth a RT 🙂

MargieClayman
MargieClayman
4 years 2 months ago

@dizzycatdesign thank you!! 🙂 @ginidietrich

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 2 months ago

@dizzycatdesign Wasn’t that great??

dizzycatdesign
dizzycatdesign
4 years 2 months ago

.@ginidietrich I thought she did a great job of keeping the article current but not so tied to today’s news that it’s not timeless.

Craig McBreen
4 years 2 months ago

Hi Margie,
 
Whether you’re offering up a wee bit of constructive criticism or not, I guess the more “popular” you become online, the more you have to deal with Middle Earth Crag Dwellers, huh?
 
This post reminded me of all the splattered humans in the movie, “District 9” 
 
That alien assault rifle sent out an electric arc that obliterated many. Blew them to teeny, tiny bits and pieces.

margieclayman
margieclayman
4 years 2 months ago

 @Craig McBreen Craig dwellers. Haha 🙂 
 
Yeah, people definitely have their lasers set to kill, not stun, in the online world. It’s a shame. Then again, other people put their shields up unnecessarily and get super duper defensive for no good reason.
 
Most people are imperfect. We just gotta live with it, us perfect people….

Craig McBreen
4 years 2 months ago

 @margieclayman 
I believe Craig means “dweller of the crag” … Scottish Gaelic origins 😉
 
It’s great being perfect, isn’t it? 🙂

margieclayman
margieclayman
4 years 2 months ago

 @Craig McBreen I guess you just proved yourself to be a tidbit wee more perfect than me 🙂

MargieClayman
MargieClayman
4 years 2 months ago

@CraigMcBreen thanks Craig!

MargieClayman
MargieClayman
4 years 2 months ago

@AmyMccTobin thanks Ms. Amy!!

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin
4 years 2 months ago

@MargieClayman. YOU are very welcome. Have u ever watched Miss Representation? Did last night and thought of you.

MargieClayman
MargieClayman
4 years 2 months ago

@AmyMccTobin no I haven’t!

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin
4 years 2 months ago

@MargieClayman you need to! It’s actually MissRepresentation – about the Media’s objectification of women & persistent misogyny.

MargieClayman
MargieClayman
4 years 2 months ago

@amymcctobin huh, I’ll look for it.Thanks!

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin
4 years 2 months ago

@MargieClayman spent yesterday with 92 8th grade girls at Milton Hershey School discussing this. You would have enjoyed.

MargieClayman
MargieClayman
4 years 2 months ago

@amymcctobin no doubt! What was their take?

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin
4 years 2 months ago

@MargieClayman You could tell that they had never even thought about how the media influenced their own self image.

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin
4 years 2 months ago

@MargieClayman Here’s more: http://t.co/VfW72qM9 I want to talk to you about it and about WHERE are the women Marketers…

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin
4 years 2 months ago

@MargieClayman Do you have any time for a call? Wanted to get @ginidietrich in on it too… couldn’t stop thinking about it.

MargieClayman
MargieClayman
4 years 2 months ago

@AmyMccTobin you should read this by @caroljsroth: http://t.co/egTsBczO

MargieClayman
MargieClayman
4 years 2 months ago

@shonali thanks 🙂

shonali
shonali
4 years 2 months ago

@margieclayman Welks!

MargieClayman
MargieClayman
4 years 2 months ago

@Tribe2point0 thanks lady!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 2 months ago

@WhitneyPunchak I miss you!

WhitneyPunchak
WhitneyPunchak
4 years 2 months ago

@ginidietrich You are so sweet. Thank you!

WhitneyPunchak
WhitneyPunchak
4 years 2 months ago

@ginidietrich You are so sweet. Thank you!

Nic_Cartwright
4 years 2 months ago

Haha – love it – very clever.  My knowledge of film quotes is not good enough to compete (my brain’s memory function for remembering quotes or song lyrics is the size of The Mouse named Mickey’s) – but if I was to compliment in movie quotes – maybe I could ask Yoda to asnwer for me – 
 
entertaining and clever, this blog is

margieclayman
margieclayman
4 years 2 months ago

 @Nic_Cartwright Talking Yoda is always fine with me!! Thanks for stopping by and I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂 

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 2 months ago

You already know I love this. It’s this kind of writing that drew me to you in the first place, many eons ago. Your writing talent combined with this kind of knowledge is really incredible to me!

margieclayman
margieclayman
4 years 2 months ago

 @ginidietrich thanks Gini-san. Like I said, it’d have sucked if you had hated it 🙂

KDillabough
KDillabough
4 years 2 months ago

@TomRedwine @ginidietrich Thanks Tom:) Have a fabulous weekend.

imeldadulcich
4 years 2 months ago
I am always amazed to see reaction to criticism via targeting online – going after the critic with unabashed meanness. I always remind people to stop and think:   Acknowledge the criticism as soon as possible (not react right away, but acknowledge)   What caused the criticism?   Did you see it coming?   What else is going on in that person’s (the critic) life? (elementary I know, but I try to understand as much as I can about the person before reacting).     I like to say people are always doing the best they can at any given point.… Read more »
imeldadulcich
4 years 2 months ago
I am always amazed to see reaction to criticism via targeting online – going after the critic with unabashed meanness. I always remind people to stop and think:   Acknowledge the criticism as soon as possible (not react right away, but acknowledge)   What caused the criticism?   Did you see it coming?   What else is going on in that person’s (the critic) life? (elementary I know, but I try to understand as much as I can about the person before reacting).     I like to say people are always doing the best they can at any given point.… Read more »
MargieClayman
MargieClayman
4 years 2 months ago

@kristakotrla thanks so much for the tweet & kind words 🙂

belllindsay
belllindsay
4 years 2 months ago

Love IT!! And I bow in your general direction. Jesus. Python *and* PeeWee in one post..!!?? I’m in awe. Very creative and funny @MargieClayman  – as you are as well. 🙂 

MargieClayman
MargieClayman
4 years 2 months ago

@marktzk thanks for the tweet 🙂

3HatsComm
4 years 2 months ago
These are all good.. but I gotta single out #5 – and shake my head at those clients who won’t listen, don’t want to take the time (and money) to learn about this, why ignoring/deleting some valid criticism is the wrong move. Sigh. Part to of that is “Why you stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder!” – and the response that ignores all the (possibly valid) criticism to focus on appearances: “Who’s scruffy looking?” Hee.   And for #4 the playground taunts – the constant one-up of “no you didn’t” “YES I did” fits. One of the worst ways to respond to criticism or engage… Read more »
trackback

[…] but Dietrich is very witty in her posts and conversational. She is all about the lists, such as, “Five Inappropriate Ways to Respond to Criticism” which is written by a ‘guest blogger’ and “Five Ways to Measure Social Media […]

MargieClayman
MargieClayman
4 years 2 months ago

@karlsprague geeze dood. You got a lot into that tweet. Well done! And thanks 🙂

karlsprague
karlsprague
4 years 2 months ago

@MargieClayman When two of my favorite people in the Twittersphere team up & you include LOTR, you’re pressing the right buttons.:)

MargieClayman
MargieClayman
4 years 2 months ago

@karlsprague aww, thanks!!! 🙂 I include LOTR as much as possible. It’s becoming a problem, actually. *Gollum gollum*

karlsprague
karlsprague
4 years 2 months ago

@MargieClayman Now that’s funny. A little spooky…gollum … but funny. Hoping you put on your mithril to go conquer the world today.

MargieClayman
MargieClayman
4 years 2 months ago

@ThePaulSutton thanks Paul!

MargieClayman
MargieClayman
4 years 2 months ago

@3HatsComm thanks Ms. Davina! Nice to see you today! 🙂

3HatsComm
3HatsComm
4 years 2 months ago

@MargieClayman YW have a good one.

MargieClayman
MargieClayman
4 years 2 months ago

@sandrulee thanks Sandra!

sandrulee
sandrulee
4 years 2 months ago

@MargieClayman you’re welcome! thanks for the good read!

NancyCawleyJean
NancyCawleyJean
4 years 2 months ago

What a great post, Margie! Some criticism is easier to take than others…and some people know how to offer it constructively! But we all make choices every day, and we have to live with the repercussions of those choices — the world of social media doesn’t leave much room to hide! My rule of thumb is to take a deep breath and not respond right away, and that helps to prepare a more appropriate response than I might like to give at first!

MargieClayman
MargieClayman
4 years 2 months ago

@NancyCawleyJean thanks 🙂

MargieClayman
MargieClayman
4 years 1 month ago

thanks guys! @pablober @Steveology

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