What do you do when dozens, hundreds, thousands of people tell you “you and your message sucks?” What do you do when they lay out exactly how you’re making the world a worse place?
Most people succumb to the pressure. They lash out (I have), they despair (I definitely have), or stew for days (or months, if you’re like me) designing a fitting counterattack.
None of these are helpful.
Instead, here’s how I learned to use criticism to become more influential, more popular, and more powerful than ever before.
The Good, Better, and Best Response to Criticism
There are plenty of “good” responses to criticisms, all of which I’ve seen advised:
- Ignore them
- Calmly defend yourself
- Poke fun at them
- Counter their claim with convincing evidence
These are well and good. They’re fine. You’ll always have critics, and these are good-enough responses for most people.
However, these merely adequate responses don’t really make you better or help you improve. They don’t make you more influential or powerful.
There are some “better” responses: you could try to create productive dialogue, or maybe use criticisms as a chip on your shoulder to keep going. I’ve done both, with mixed results.
But there is a better way. There is the best way to respond to criticism. Ever since I’ve started using this technique, my influence, popularity, and power as a writer have grown, gaining me more fans, more authority, and more income.
There are 3 steps:
- Humbly but objectively assess if the criticism is true and useful
- If it’s true, admit it and use it to be better next time. If it’s not, ignore it entirely (the hardest part).
- Ask yourself how your message can be more clear, definite, and concise to your audience next time.
See, in your quest to become a more powerful and popular influencer, you should be getting criticism. For every 5–10 haters you get, you’re getting 1 solid, loyal fan who loves you.
The problem is, most people are not humble enough to hear how they can be better.
You Can’t Be an Inspiration to Some Without Being a Joke to Others
If you don’t have any critics, you’re doing something wrong.
Your message probably isn’t focused enough. You’re probably still operating out of fear, not confidence.
I’ve learned you can’t be a life-changing inspiration to your loyal fans without being a complete joke to others.
It’s OK if you don’t have thick skin. Actually, I see myself as having fairly thin skin. Lots of comments hurt my feelings, make me sad, angry, self-conscious, and doubt myself.
But don’t hide your message because some people won’t like it. As best-selling author Mark Manson wrote, “Suffering through your fears and anxieties is what allows you to build courage and perseverance.” Facing hurtful criticism is part of the game.
Don’t avoid pain. Don’t design your plan around avoiding criticism like most people do. Don’t dilute your message a single bit.
Why Most People Self-Destruct and Let Their Critics Win
Sadly, most people usually let their critics pull them down to their level, distracting them with petty fights while loyal fans are forgotten.
I used to do this all the time. When someone would leave some mean, snarky comment, I would waste hours imagining myself as a prosecutor in a courtroom, viciously detailing exactly why that person was wrong. I’d fantasize about destroying them and their argument.
Those are hours I’ll never get back.
Most people lash out when attacked. I’ve done the same. My mentality was, “You hurt me, now I want to your hurt you just as bad so you feel as crappy as I do.”
This is why most people let their critics win, losing their message in the process.
But you can choose how you respond to every hurtful critique. You have the ability to use this feedback to do what most people aren’t willing to do: let it make you better.
“Disapproval is a sign you’re doing something right.” -Darren Hardy
I used to hate criticism. Like I said, I published the most boring, vanilla-flavored garbage for 4 years because I was terrified someone wouldn’t like it.
Now, I almost revel in seeing negative feedback. It’s so helpful! Either I get candid, helpful feedback that I can use to become more influential, popular, and powerful) or I’m reminded I’m heading in the right direction.