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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.

71 comments
NancyCawleyJean
NancyCawleyJean

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

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

MargieClayman
MargieClayman

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

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

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 in debate is to not let go; often made harder when others refuse to do the same. Gotta know when it's best to walk away. Very, very creative - another idea to put in my 'to steal someday' pile. FWIW.

 

 

belllindsay
belllindsay

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

@kristakotrla thanks so much for the tweet & kind words :)

KDillabough
KDillabough

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

Nic_Cartwright
Nic_Cartwright

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

Craig McBreen
Craig McBreen

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.

dizzycatdesign
dizzycatdesign

@ginidietrich @margieclayman Great article! Worth a RT :)

sandrulee
sandrulee

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

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

@MargieClayman YW have a good one.

karlsprague
karlsprague

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

shonali
shonali

@margieclayman Welks!

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin

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

margieclayman
margieclayman

 @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....

Latest blog post: Join the fun at #usXsw!

MargieClayman
MargieClayman

@dizzycatdesign thank you!! :) @ginidietrich

MargieClayman
MargieClayman

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

Craig McBreen
Craig McBreen

 @margieclayman 

I believe Craig means "dweller of the crag" … Scottish Gaelic origins ;)

 

It's great being perfect, isn't it? :)

dizzycatdesign
dizzycatdesign

.@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.

rosemaryoneill
rosemaryoneill

 @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....!"

karlsprague
karlsprague

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

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin

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

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin

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

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin

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

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin

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

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