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3 Truths About Negativity + How to Overcome Your Harshest Critics


Updated: August 18, 2015

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  1. Great article Caitlin. These are some important points that we definitely need reminding of sometimes. There is still no shortage of negativity from other people and you have given some great perspectives and reframes for how to view negativity in a more constructive way.

  2. Caitlin: All I can say is that you have an awesome and professional way of dealing with “people with negativity.” (I normally would have said, “. . . dealing with negative people,” but I learned real “quick-like” after reading your ideas on this and instantly adopted your viewpoint regarding “people with negativity.” Makes a lot of sense! Also, like I said in my first message to you, you truly are a “supersmart chick!” (Pardon the expression, but it’s literally true, as far as I am concerned). You reactions to all your “self-appointed” critics are very mature and professional, and I believe the absolutely best way of dealing with “people with negativity,” ever. Congratulations to you!

  3. It’s funny. I JUST interacted with a “person with negativity” yesterday and was feeling in a funk about it and then I received an email about this blog post on negativity. So timely and so very helpful!!! I think the great thing about this post is to realize that negativity is real, you cannot totally avoid it, and confronting our feelings about it is also very important. I emailed the quote to myself so that I can see it on a regular basis: ““Pay no attention to what critics say. No statue was ever erected in honor of a critic.” (Hahaha). Thanks again for this lovely and timely post. It really made my day (and my weekend)!

  4. Thank you, Caitlin, for all your valuable blog posts. This is my second time to read this post, and I plan to come back and read it again whenever I need reminding. For those of us who appreciate civility and really want to get along with others in a world where not everyone does, these are “words to live by.”

  5. Being an “old guy” I guess I don’t understand this focus on negativity. Thirty years in engineering has taught me that yep, I’m going to screw up once in a while. Doing so may cost the company I’m working for hundreds if not thousands of dollars. I’m my own worst critic and am the first to acknowledge that I messed up. I’ve found that if you’re good at what you do and to blow my own horn here, I am! You move on and allow the clowns who want to try and hold that over your head to reach their turn at screwing it up royally. When (and I do mean when) that happens, you give them a sideways grin and move on!

    1. Thank you for your comment, Kevin. I’m also my own worst critic. You seem to have a good outlook on this situation. 🙂

  6. I have been noticing more negativity lately whether it is at the store, waiting in line or even on Facebook. I see more negative responses or telling others what did/doing wrong then supporting or asking if they need help. An example is a “friends” son was driving home one night last week, On his way home he hit a deer while on a patch of ice, his car spun around hitting on coming car. Resulting in driver of other car dying. A person commented that he shouldn’t be out driving if he can’t control his car, & they hope he ends up in jail for killing the other driver…. I feel the poor kid will live the rest of his life knowing he was involved in the death of the other person & the guilt alone will be “punishment”. I asked what they needed help with, kid in hospital with several broken bones & just lost their Grandma, offered meals, office help, etc….

    1. Oh, that’s horrible! That poor boy will never be the same. How can anyone blame him for hitting a deer? Accidents happen, folks, and sometimes they have harsh consequences — but they’re still accidents. 🙁

  7. After telling my husband that I didn’t have any proofreading work this week, he said, “I don’t know why you’re wasting your time with that. How much have you made so far? It isn’t enough to quit your job!” He went on and on. When he was finished, I simply said, “I just started this business in October. I’ve had 4 happy clients. And I think you should be supporting me instead of tearing me down!” This was just last night and we aren’t speaking much today. Don’t get me wrong, he is my best friend, but he is also very negative because of HIS lot in life. I feel very confident that I can make this proofreading gig work. I’ll just have to wait until I CAN quit my job to show him I can succeed!

    1. I love your positive attitude, Linda! Yeah, quitting your job just three months after starting your proofreading business would be nothing short of miraculous (and maybe a little premature even then). Just keep going and show him you CAN do this!

  8. My mom gave me several old sayings that I have tried to keep in mind throughout my adult life that have helped me deal with negativity and haters.

    Only people who are actually working make mistakes.

    Nothing worth having is free or easy.

    Nothing is ever easy. You have to work.

    People who like to create drama are never successful – or happy.

    There is always a solution if you are willing to look for it.

    Ignore those who try to tell you who you are. You know who you are.

    You can learn anything if you put your mind to it.

    There are more, but you get the idea. I am a ‘glass half full’ kind of gal.

  9. I guess I’ve been lucky and not ever really been bothered by negative people. I’ve always been that persistently positive person and when faced with negative people, always asked myself why they feel that or choose to react that way. I already have 2 businesses that I love and have learned a lot from. I figure as long as I learn from constructive or negative feedback and fix the problem, it is a positive experience. I also always remember a quote I heard a long time ago when getting negative comments/feedback. “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, become critics.” Being able to see things from others’ points of view can really help in dispersing the amount they negatively impact you.

    Things I’ve learned from my other 2 businesses are always ask your clients what they want and do your research constantly. It’s easy to tell them what you do but you may not be covering everything that they need which can lead to so-so or negative reviews. For example, I make custom dog collars, leashes, and accessories. It’s still a relatively new venture so it’s easy to learn new things related to the industry. Through research, I found that some leashes have a D-ring up by the handle for attaching keys or poop bags to. When I brought the idea up to some of my clients, they all LOVED the idea and it led to several sales. I asked them what else they were looking for and was told tug toys for their agility dogs that would hold up. I hadn’t even thought about it but quickly was able to come up with a design that worked perfectly for their needs. I still get the occasional negative comment saying that I don’t have a large enough selection but I’ve found that by turning it around into a positive, asking them what they’d like to see in my store, it helps open lines of communication which benefits us both.

    1. Love this comment! Perfect example of how you’ve taken the negative and used it to make yourself and your business even better.

  10. Gosh, I wish I’d been able to read this ten years ago! I especially love that you mention that there are no negative people, only people who choose negativity. I’ve certainly observed that, and (hopefully) have been able to interact with more compassion because of that knowledge. Thank you!

  11. Great article! Luckily, I have gotten encouragement from my sister. Although, at first, she was hesitant and cautious, saying that she was suspicious of the course. Rather than getting defensive, I listened to her apprehensions and argued (positively) my reasons and research. She was impressed that I had done my homework and really thought hard about the challenges and work ahead of me. That is when she decided to support me. I welcome constructive criticism but I will not allow for negativity. Thank you Caitlin!

  12. I run the school which doesn’t follow traditional techniques of teaching, but believes in learning through experiences. I always come across with criticism on methods and techniques used for learning by children, maybe, from parents or even from teachers sometime. I respond to them by saying that it’s okay; it’s their view and these are my views, and in my school my views will be implemented as I trust them and they have been proved over a period of time. Of course, some critics are really good suggestions, just not presented in proper manner. And it’s true there is no statue in honor of a critic! (Hahaha!)

  13. This has such funny timing for me, I’ve been a bit timid to tell people what I’m pursuing until I feel successful. That’s so silly! So I told a group of new friends that I’m pursuing this as a career, and the first things out of ALL of their mouths was WHAT? Why? You are so good at a, b and c and your personality and, and. I remember clearly feeling a hot heat and embarrassment as I tried to explain why. Then it dawned on me, it was shall I call reverse jealousy. As in, I shall project my insecurity on you so that I don’t feel jealous. At least that’s what it felt like. So I don’t bring it up anymore and that’s ok. My close friends and family cheer me on and know that my excitement is real and my life path has been rough and I deserve better!

    1. It’s great that you’ve learned to ignore the critics and keep on pushing toward what you know is possible!

  14. Hi Caitlin! I’m just moving into the second module in the course; feeling excited for the opportunities and really appreciative of your candid thoughts and honest comments throughout. I gain something valuable out of each of your posts, so much so that I’ve bookmarked many them so I remember to revisit them when I am feeling discouraged or beat down. This, however, was a whopper of an article for me!
    Thank you for everything this course entails, but mostly for being approachable, truthful, and REAL. Thank you for being a human. 🙂

  15. “No statue was ever erected in honor of a critic.”

    I’m originally from Illinois, where they have a statue of Roger Ebert, film critic. 🙂

  16. I like this: “I chose to apologize and make it right, offering not an ounce of what I’ve come to call ‘defensive snarkiness.'” I think that is something many of us need to learn. It rankles, but I know that if I react this way, I will have nothing with which to reproach myself. Also, may I suggest “jibe” instead of “jive”?

  17. I can really get derailed with negativity from others and have to work really hard to not take it to heart. I agree that negative comments are useful if there is a solution to be gained from it; however, when a negative comment is just to hurt your feelings, it generally does not provide a solution and its effect is only to hurt the person.

  18. I loved this article and it was just what I needed to hear today! Two and a half weeks ago I left my job, a job I do not like at all, to take a much needed mental health break. I have felt guilty over this decision and have felt like my co-workers are upset with me for leaving them with all of my work to do, in addition to their own.

    I really appreciated your reminder that whatever decision I make, I need to feel good about it. And I do. I needed this time away to strengthen my mind, figure out what I want to do, and prepare for going back, at least for a little while. Also, it has given me the time to get started with the Beginner’s Basecamp, which I have wanted to do for several months.

    I am super excited to begin this new journey and excited to learn all the new things the course will teach me! I know having something to look forward to will make it easier to go back to work in a few weeks, knowing that it will not be forever and that someday I will be able to quit my job and proofread full time!

    Thank you so much for developing this course, and for your words of encouragement in how to deal with negativity- real or imagined! 😊

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