How to deal with negative reviews

Recently, my friend Susan Hyatt – an amazing woman who helps other women tackle life bravely and courageously – received a comment on one of her Facebook ads that said:

“I don’t like the face you’ve given to advertise your work.”

Ummm, okay. The person had a problem… with her face???

My friend Alexandra Franzen, who is one of the sweetest most generous humans on the planet, wrote a book called 50 Ways to Say You’re Awesome. The book is literally made up of cards to tell other people they are awesome. One reviewer said:

“Awful. These are juvenile.”

Wow. How very… un-awesome.

I recently finished a script that went out to a circle of “trusted” professional writers, a script I worked incredibly hard on for almost a year, and got this feedback from one writer:

“This reads like a ridiculous TV movie. I’ve never watched a TV movie myself, but this seems like it would be that. I can’t believe this writer has representation.”

Ummm… if you’ve never watched a TV movie, how do you know? Also, WHAT IS WRONG WITH TV MOVIES???

These opinions and reviews just prove…

No matter who you are… no matter what you create… and no matter how diligently you work to make your products/books/classes/services totally extraordinary… some people just aren’t going to like it.

Everyone’s got an opinion. And unfortunately, not everyone’s opinion is going to be: “Thumbs up. 5 stars. Would recommend to a friend!”

Dealing with other people’s opinions—particularly negative opinions—is one of the most challenging aspects of being a writer, artist, or business owner.

So what’s the solution? Just… never create anything? Never write a book? Never launch your program? Never express your ideas? Stay quiet? Stay hidden? Stay inside a safe little box where other people’s opinions can’t ever hurt you? Obviously, that’s not a workable solution. So then what is?

I have to admit, I don’t know for sure. I get derailed by negative opinions, sometimes, and I get flustered and scared just like everyone else. But for me, what always helps is hyper-focusing on my clients, my fans, my friends, my audience—the people who appreciate what I do and how I do it.

When I get hate mail—yes, it happens!—I immediately go and read at least 3 pieces of love mail—like a note from a client saying, “Thank you, this really helped me!” Soaking in some love mail helps to wash the negativity out of my brain, and it helps me to remember, “OK, not everyone digs my work, but some people really do, so I’m going to keep creating for them.”

Whatever kind of art you’re making, whatever kind of business you run, you’re going to contend with lots and lots of opinions—both positive and negative.

I’ve come to believe that “success” doesn’t necessarily mean getting an avalanche of 5-star reviews or earning 7-figures a year or getting onto a bestseller list. To me, “success” means that you’re able to roll with the inevitable ups and downs of your career without giving up. That you keep creating no matter what. To me, that’s true success, and it’s a form of success that’s not dependent on anyone else’s opinion.

It’s about who you decide to be—not what other people have decided about you.