How to Respond to Negative Comments and Trolls

Blogging Tips | How to Respond to Negative Comments and Trolls

It’s a common problem as a blogger: How should you respond to negative comments or (worse) trolls?

There’s lots of great advice out there and a post written about the subject is nothing new, but I thought I’d share how I personally deal with negativity on my blog or social media channels (and why). To be honest I’ve been very, very lucky during my 3-4 years’ blogging compared to some. I’ve never received anything especially hurtful or vicious, just snide comments (usually discussed away from my blog in a forum somewhere. They obviously don’t realise bloggers can see where traffic comes from and can read what they’ve written).

So I’ve finally come up with a tactic that works for me. The solution? It’s an old-fashioned one: Kill ’em with kindness.

KILL ‘EM WITH KINDNESS. 

I’m convinced this works a treat in all sorts of situations in life, and it’s a lesson I was taught at a very young age by my mother. If we got into a standard mother-and-daughter row over not very much at all, she would very quickly diffuse the situation by simply saying very nicely (and with the merest hint of sarcasm), You know what, dear, you’re absolutely right. No, really, you ARE right. I am wrong.  And so on, and so on.

Now this would absolutely INFURIATE me because she had effectively cut the argument dead right there. And every time I’d try to argue more, she’d just keep saying I was right and smile. (Compare this to rows with my dad: Both wanting to be right and shout loudest, our rows would simply escalate and escalate.) So I couldn’t argue that my mother was still wrong because she kept agreeing with me and being nice.*

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Blogging Tips | How to Respond to Negative Comments and Trolls

She knew very well that if she mirrored my (pretty awful) teenage behaviour, it would just fuel me to the point that the argument had nowhere to go except name-calling. So by being nice and appearing to just give up and ‘lose’ the argument, she’d do exactly the opposite and take the power back. And THIS is what I aim to do when dealing with negativity: Take the power back.

WHEN DEALING WITH NEGATIVITY, TAKE THE POWER BACK. 

The first time I really grasped this concept was in a Google Plus post last year. Nothing out of the extraordinary: just an outfit post of me wearing a grey marl sweatshirt and yellow trousers, linking back to my blog. For some reason, that outfit (no more garish than some of the other creations I’ve come up with) attracted a string of comments such as “make it stop” and “is this the new visually impaired collection by Stevie Wonder”. Hilarious.

I decided to over-enthusiastically thank each one for their comment and spreading so much love around the internet (because, you know, there isn’t enough of it out there and I was feeling particularly mischievous that day). And I said how amazing it was to collaborate with Stevie Wonder. And have a nice day (a phrase that’s really not used by us Brits).

The reaction? It worked a treat. Only one of them came back with a sexist remark about “time of the month?” (original), but generally it just stopped everyone from coming back at me with anything else – because what do they say when they’ve been thanked and wished a nice day? To be honest I did go a bit over-the-top with my tales of where I’d worn the outfit (you’ll see what I mean if you read the thread) but by that point, my husband and I were laughing so hard at the stupid comments they’d left that I just couldn’t help myself.

Therefore, I came to the solid conclusion that if they receive a torrent of sickly sweet, gushingly nice nothing’s-gonna-stop-me-being-nice to you replies, they’ll see you’re not worth bothering with because nothing phases you. They WANT an argument (like my teenage self did), and if you don’t cooperate they’ll (unfortunately) move onto to someone who will give it to them.

IF THEY RECEIVE A TORRENT OF SICKLY SWEET, GUSHINGLY NICE NOTHING’S-GONNA-STOP-ME-BEING-NICE TO YOU REPLIES, THEY’LL SEE YOU’RE NOT WORTH BOTHERING WITH BECAUSE NOTHING PHASES YOU. 

Don’t be that person. Handle the comments in any way you choose (this is purely my method) – but don’t add fuel to the fire because they will always win.

And if you DO happen to go with my method, I’d recommend an extra little something:

Someecards.com - Kill 'em with kindness

HAVE YOU EVER RECEIVED NEGATIVE OR UNPLEASANT COMMENTS FROM TROLLS? HOW DID YOU HANDLE THEM? PLEASE – DO SHARE YOUR BEST TIPS FOR DEALING WITH THE LITTLE CRITTERS!

*I must make it clear that I had (and still have) a wonderful relationship with both my mum and my dad – I’m talking the usual hormone-driven rows most teenagers have with their parents. My mother also has a death-stare to rival the most evil death-stare you’ve ever seen – the definition of a ‘strong woman’, she’s no pushover…!

Catherine

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P.S. If you like this, why not check out the rest of my Blogging Tips posts?

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58 Comments

  1. January 16, 2015 / 3:20 pm

    I was wondering what this post was going to be about. You've been teasing us with troll dolls for a few days now, haha.
    I've only had a troll once, they commented about a peice of artwork I'd posted on DeviantArt, and first I asked them for constructive criticism, then they didn't have any, and continued to be rude so I just blocked them.
    Rubi | The Den | http://www.the-den.blogspot.com

    • January 17, 2015 / 12:13 pm

      I forgot to mention that I do block them later, Rubi… no need to invite them to come back – but then maybe I don't need to if my method works?!! Sorry you had trolls too. But blocking is perfect because you can just block and forget – job done, no need to dwell 😀

  2. January 16, 2015 / 3:56 pm

    It's too bad strangers would want to be mean for the sake of being mean. What a sad world sometimes. What is a troll?

    • January 17, 2015 / 12:19 pm

      You're right it is, Cheryl – but luckily it's only the minority! I dobn't know what type of troll you've not heard of as there's effectively three kinds:

      1. It's an ugly big goblin-type creature from Scandinavian folklore
      2. It's the cute toy version of number 1 (like the two with crazy hair in my lead image)
      3. An internet troll is (so says Wikipedia as they give the best description): a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

      And of course I'm talking internet trolls in my post, but I didn't know if you'd never heard the word before or whether you didn't know specifically what an *internet* troll was…!

  3. January 16, 2015 / 5:35 pm

    I actually have a whole hate thread on there and I did leave a post on there agreeing with them about what they were bitching about and thanked them for making me see the errors of my ways. It didn't stop it but diffused it until he next time something I wrote about pissed them off. Oh well! They think they are the blog police, I suppose.

    • January 17, 2015 / 12:24 pm

      Not quite sure which one you initially meant, Justine (were you referring to the Mumsnet thread I was discussed on that I talked about in my other post)? – but either way I'm always amazed how incredibly spiteful so many forums get. That's why I'd never, ever take part in them.

      BUT I like the way you handled it, though I don't think they have a very long memory as it seems they do get upset easily by things they read online?!!!

  4. January 16, 2015 / 5:51 pm

    I thank killing them with kindness is the best approach. A person would seem crazy if you say have a nice day and they reply with an cuss word! They really can't come up with a comeback when they really is not one.

    • January 17, 2015 / 12:24 pm

      It really was such a great lesson I was taught by my mum, Lanae… I've used it a lot in real life too 🙂

  5. January 16, 2015 / 6:52 pm

    love your approach and the atre words I would follow. I hate to say this but I have not been hit with that type of behaviour yet ( spam yes, hate no). I always wondered if it was an agre thing, people are kinder to those of us who are a little Older, not sure but I am happy to have not dealt with that type of behaviour

    • January 16, 2015 / 6:52 pm

      excuse the apparent excess of "r's", slippery fingers and hitting send to fast.

    • January 17, 2015 / 12:27 pm

      I hope it never does happen to you, Linda!! But I don't think our age stops them, after all I was mocked (in that first thread I linked to, not the G+ one) for being mutton dressed as lamb after all. Such playground mentality, if you ask me…!

  6. January 16, 2015 / 7:13 pm

    I've never had negative comments on my blog, but I have no idea what, if anything, is said about me somewhere in the far reaches of the internet. And I don't want to know. But if if someone did leave a negative comment, I would probably just delete it. I know I'm not everyone's cup of tea, and I have no intention of even trying to cater to other people's expectations (whether to please them or to aim to be the one they love to hate) as that is a slippery slope to neurotic self-conscious obsession. So, I would just refuse to be drawn into any sort of conversation that is counter-productive, and pretend that negative people are invisible and go about my business. But I admire your fantastic patience with mean idiots.

    • January 17, 2015 / 12:32 pm

      I have deleted the odd comment in the past, Tiina – and I've also dealt with a very vile email from someone before that was ENTIRELY personal. As that one *was* personal and also entirely unjustified (and unresearched), I made my feelings very, very clear (but politely, always politely. I'll never lower myself to someone else's level like that).

      So it's the only time I've ever been drawn in to an 'argument' as such, but these flippant comments like the G+ thread just make me laugh, hence the type of replies I give…!

  7. January 16, 2015 / 7:14 pm

    I got my first mean comment and my best IRL(in real life) blogging friend said "congratulations, you're a real blogger now"!! 🙂 lol. Guess it's a rite of passage?!
    OXOX
    Dawn Lucy
    http://fashionshouldbefun.blogspot.com

    • January 17, 2015 / 12:33 pm

      You're probably right, Dawn – never thought of it like that! Though the fact that it happens at all makes me so sad… and I do feel sorry for the haters, I really do

  8. January 16, 2015 / 7:38 pm

    It seems like if you are good then people talk also negatively about you. I don't understand why people are so mean. I used to tell my boss…if people gossip about you it means you are interesting, you interest them. It's much worse when they don't even notice you.

    So, Catherine, good job!

    • January 17, 2015 / 12:34 pm

      Haha I always used to say the same, Martina (in fact I still do): "It's better to be talked about than not at all". I guess that's just my attention-seeking side coming out, I guess!!!

  9. January 16, 2015 / 8:53 pm

    I would tend to agree that much of the negativity is from the point of envy. I don't think I've ever seen someone mistreated unless they're popular. I have never had an issue 🙂 Totally agree with your recommendations for handling. The same advice I give my teenagers (and my mom gave me). Sad that some people don't mature beyond junior high. Glad you don't take it too personally.

    • January 17, 2015 / 12:38 pm

      Definitely from the point of envy, Su-z (though I'm not saying they all think I'm brilliant, far from it – but I'm sure you know what I mean). I think it's actually a very British thing to knock people (I'm talking people in the public eye) when they're successful, so it filters into blogging and social media. They see someone being confident and wearing something slightly out-of-the-ordinary – they simply HAVE to knock it, almost as if that person needs to be brought down a peg or two.

      A shame, eh…?!!

  10. January 16, 2015 / 9:44 pm

    In bloglife it is probably easier to react in an angelic way because you do have some time to think about it. At least i can't be stickly sweet to someone who is rude to my face…
    Another thing: funny it was the post with the yellow trousers & grey top that sparked negative comments. It was the first post I saw of you and it caught my eye because I like the combination and the whole look so much. Since then I've been following your blog! I haven't had any negative comments so far (except from my eldest son who is 8 and then my 5 year old rushes in to say that mummy looks lovely) but then again I've not been blogging long……..
    I think your attitude toward these indeed envious people is spot on!

    • January 17, 2015 / 12:43 pm

      Oh I can't possibly let anything deeply personal to my face go unmentioned, Irmin – but as I mentioned to Tiina above I've also learnt (again from my parents) never to lower myself to someone else's level. So if someone is screaming and shouting at me I tend to do the opposite and make my voice go very very quiet – "low and slow" – so they have to strain to hear me… it kinda puts the willies up them a bit because it makes you seem much more in control and (hopefully) a little bit scary. Maybe my days as a teacher taught me that one…!!

  11. January 17, 2015 / 2:43 am

    I think my blog is too small to have an enough exposure to negative comments. I was raised not to say anything if you have nothing nice to say. I think if some chooses to disagree with an outfit, that's fine by me but if they attack a person's character or their size that's when it's not constructive any more. I have to agree that the outfit wasn't that awful to generate those comments, I didn't see anything wrong with it and think it's a rather cute combo!

    Alice
    http://www.happinesatmidlife.com

    • January 17, 2015 / 4:10 pm

      They should have seen some of other outfits, Alice – I think they would have had a heart attack if they were really so offended by the yellow trousers one!! And I too live by the "if you can't say anything nice…" motto. It's perfect for blogging! Thanks hun x

  12. January 17, 2015 / 9:38 am

    Well written, Catherine.

    Unfortunately with some work I do with start ups, I have witnessed mob mentality that has shut businesses down. My advice is always not to react, or get in the drama, and your responses are perfect. Another approach I use is "thanks for your feedback. Perhaps you can share what you are looking for in terms of style, and maybe someone can redirect you to a better forum/store. For the really nasty pasties, bless and release, or bless and block, I say!

    For what it's worth, I LOVE your pants (I have a collection of printed and bright pants/skirts). Live colourfully and keep inspiring people.

    With gratitude,

    Belle

    PS your mum is genius. I'll be storing that gem away for when Miss six gets bigger…. Quite a style queen in her own right!

    • January 17, 2015 / 4:13 pm

      Bless and block – that's pretty much what I do, Belle!! I leave it a while after leaving my sickeningly nice reply before blocking them… they usually don't come back anyway 😉

      And yes I can guarantee my mum's method will work. She still does it now (aged 80), albeit in a very tongue in cheek way!! Thanks sweetie so much x

  13. January 17, 2015 / 9:41 am

    Oh and love the collar…. Might be my accessory of choice this year!

    • January 17, 2015 / 4:14 pm

      Not too sure what collar you mean, Belle (have I missed something…?) – but thank you all the same!!

  14. January 17, 2015 / 10:40 am

    I can so relate to this given although my "haters" aren't online, but in real life (people I used to know). At first, I was somewhat hurt and made me look at myself if I deserved any rude comments they made. But then, you change perspective and look deeper into it and realize that the problem isn't with me, it's them. I don't get how some people would go out of their way to hurt and ridicule others.

    xo,
    Abby
    http://www.fashchronicles.blogspot.com

    • January 17, 2015 / 4:25 pm

      Bullying is bullying whether it's online or real life, Abby… I guess trolling is just another word for it. I'm so glad you've realised that the problem is ENTIRELY them – because it is. I actually feel pity for them: I know that really, truly nice people (think of the nicest person you know – them) would never, ever be rude or bully anyone in real life (or online). I've come to the conclusion that trolls and bullies are deeply unhappy people and know nothing else except to try and inflict their own unhappiness on others.

      As I said happy people just wouldn't do it, so I think myself lucky that I'm not that unhappy and miserable. It's their loss – that they can't see how being nice to people is actually quite, er, nice(!) and more often that not very rewarding 😀

      I'm glad you 'used' to know them (not any more I mean – I hope). Stay believing you're fabulous and you'll attract the right people in your life for sure! Catherine x

  15. January 17, 2015 / 1:42 pm

    I do a lot of "ignore" and occasionally a "take the high road", in both real life and online. One of my dear patients once told me, "Not everyone is going to treat you like you have hundred dollar bills coming out your ass." Love that. xox

    • January 17, 2015 / 4:28 pm

      That is an AMAZING quote, Patti…!!! Love it!

      Though I wouldn't mind if they did (come out of my ass I mean)…

      ;))

  16. January 17, 2015 / 2:18 pm

    I never understood the reason for negative comments. I am new to blogging so I dont get it here but on Instagram, it use to be bad. It use to get to me, esp when you are trying at something/giving your all at it and want to share your happiness ppl want to tear you down. "TAKE THE HIGH ROAD" it just made me feel bad (NOT) for their insecure outburst! Love your blog, thanks for sharing!!

    • January 17, 2015 / 4:31 pm

      Oh gosh yes it is bad on Instagram, Raquel – and even worse on YouTube. I will be starting on YouTube soon, but I have to admit I don't know that I could put up with the constant trolling that is inevitable there. I will definitely be ignoring those for sure…!!

      And thank you hun for your lovely comment x

  17. January 17, 2015 / 5:59 pm

    I've never had negative comments on the bloggy still, but I think it's because I don't have that big of a readership. I did have a few negative comments and even a stalker on my deviantart account 😀 Maaaan, this site is filled with looneys!
    I agree on the kill them with kindness, it makes their head explode! 😀

    • January 18, 2015 / 11:05 pm

      Doesn't it mean that you've arrived in the (internet) world if you've got a stalker, Keit…?!! Seriously, though, I'm glad you haven't – because nobody deserves it. At least you're prepared if does happen ;))

  18. January 17, 2015 / 9:39 pm

    What a great post and brilliant advice you are giving here, Catherine! Although I am very sorry to hear you have actually received this awful comments. I think they are always based on jealousy!
    I am lucky I haven't had these haters on my blog and social media yet. I thought the situation is much better in the UK and the States while from my experience, here in Germany unfortunately negative comments and criticism do happen more often.

    Tolerance online and IRL is key – especially these days!

    Have a wonderful weekend, Catherine,
    xx
    Annette | Lady of Style

    • January 19, 2015 / 9:33 pm

      Gosh I'm surprised about negativity being worse in Germany, Annette – I would have thought that the British would be the worst…!! I do hope you never have to deal with it. A lot of times I find threads talking about me because I look up my stats and see where traffic is coming from, so by wanting to know about my stats I unwittingly find the source of the hate! Oh well, poor them I say, glad I'm me and not like that.

      Thank you my lovely – I'm so glad there are many, many lovely people like yourself to make up for the (very few) haters 😀

  19. January 19, 2015 / 12:33 am

    Great advice, as always. I've dealt with a lot of this over the years (more in person than on the blog), and I take a similar tack. People like that are looking for a reaction. They want to be able to go back to their cronies with evidence of how unbalanced and unhinged you are. I delight in giving them absolutely nothing…ever. When someone is taking little digs at you, you have all the power. For me, it's not even about taking it back….you always had it to begin with. It's about knowing that I could easily take them out with a barbed word or a look, and choosing not to. The benevolent dictator, lol.

    • January 19, 2015 / 9:35 pm

      That's a great tactic, Kristin – I also think it makes you seem much more mysterious because they don't get a reaction and you're just too cool for school, basically!! Great advice, I like it. Thanks for the tip my lovely xx

  20. January 21, 2015 / 6:45 am

    I have never had any negative comments on my blog either. If they give me bad comment somewhere else, I don't see it, as I haven't got the time to trace anything. (You know I am not a serious blogger haha.)
    But that would be my method anyway: just ignore them. I wouldn't waste any time on negativity. If they want to, go right ahead.
    But I think your mum had a fantastic approach. Wise woman.
    Greetje

    • January 22, 2015 / 4:49 pm

      She certainly is, Greetje. Her advice has served me well (though it took a while to realise that, haha)!

  21. January 21, 2015 / 8:04 am

    Kill with Kindness! Yes, my motto in life. It really does work wonders.

    While I don't have enough comments to warrant the evil ones (YET!), I did have a very funny troll scenario this past fall. I was super proud of this colab with Cross the Line. I went to check my page views and was over the moon with my highest total yet. It was like 9 times what I'd usually get in a day. I was just so cuffed.

    Later, I happened to look through the area of stats where you can see where people are linking from. Hmmm, I saw THE link and thought what is that!? I'm sure you've heard of Get Off My Internets…well that's where I was! They had taken a picture from this post and just ripped me to bits! I couldn't believe what horrible things people say, like, "She looks like a bridge troll!" Hahaha!

    At first I was pretty bummed, but then I just found the irony in it. Here I was so excited for getting a lot of views, but it wasn't even for the right post! In the end I figured any publicity is good publicity, right!?

    Oh, of course I did not respond!

    But still, if I happen to get bad comments I will indeed kill with kindness–cuz it works!!

    Big HUG to you Catherine.

    Ann of Kremb de la Kremb

    • January 22, 2015 / 4:54 pm

      Gosh Ann, I'm so sorry you had such horrid comments… it still astounds me that people actually put their thoughts down in a public arena where everyone can see what a cruel b*****d or b***h they are. As I always say: be smug in the knowledge that you're a lovely person and would never be awful in the same way.

      And you sure a lovely, lovely person… I've had first hand experience of that!! I hope knowing how great you made me feel makes YOU feel wonderful (I'm in no doubt it does) – plus the kill 'em with kindness tactic does make you feel so much better, though I hope it never happens again to you…! C x

  22. January 22, 2015 / 7:06 pm

    I can't say I have been trolled…Or to be honest I probably haven't noticed and have replied to their comments nicely.

    It is wrong that people think they can say offensive things just because they think they can get away with it, but tackling them by being nice sounds the way to go. There is no reason for anyone to lower themselves to the level of a troll.

    #BrilliantBlogPosts

    • January 23, 2015 / 6:24 pm

      That's another of my mottos – and something that both my parents taught me – never lower yourself to someone else's level if they're being rude. Wise words indeed, Debbie!! Thank you x

  23. January 23, 2015 / 10:45 am

    I am still a bit new to blogging and so far touch wood I have not had.any negative comment, however I think I might go with Patti and ignore them because I.consider them as sad people looking for.entertainment and they will only get it if.you take the bait. I think you handled it very well and got the last laugh. Keep doing your thing. You are exceptional and nobody can take that from you. Great post Catherine. xo

    • January 23, 2015 / 6:25 pm

      I definitely got the last laugh, Elsie…!! Unfortunately I think the trolls make themselves look far more foolish that I ever could in a pair of yellow trousers…! Glad to know you'd just ignore them, though I hope you never have to xx

  24. January 23, 2015 / 5:28 pm

    You're mum is a wise lady. Only ever had 1 troll so for 4 years blogging that's not bad. In this instance I stood up to her on twitter, her comments were rude, hurtful and untrue. However I agree 99% of the time kill them with kindness but we mustn't let bullies on or off line get away with their behaviour. Life is short though so I tend to just block and forget the bad eggs. Loved this post. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts

    • January 23, 2015 / 6:27 pm

      One in four years is pretty good going, Vicki – though in reality the figure should be nil!! Completely agree with you about the bad eggs. Thanks sweetie x

  25. January 27, 2015 / 12:51 pm

    Well done! I can never understand why some people take pleasure in being horrible to others, and making hurtful comments! I use the same approach, and in 'real' life the less I think a person likes me the more sickly sweet I am to them! x

    • January 29, 2015 / 3:11 pm

      Hehe I love the fact that you do the same, sweetie… I know how it infuriates them, being on the receiving end of that as a kid with my mum!! And no, I don't understand it either. It's a weird modern phenomenon – hopefully it won't last?! Thanks for your comment x

  26. November 19, 2015 / 9:19 am

    Brilliant post!!! The picture at the end had me in snorting with laughter. Found your blog through #brilliantblogposts.

    • November 19, 2015 / 10:46 am

      hehe thanks Caroline – so glad you liked it, though I hope you don't ever need to put it into practice…!

  27. November 19, 2015 / 1:14 pm

    Great post. I tend to try not to feed them and just ignore them. There's no reasoning with a troll or internet warrior

  28. November 20, 2015 / 1:48 am

    Haha – your mum is clearly an evil genius! But I think this is good advice & I must try it. I mostly write just humorous stuff so few problems. But when I occasionally stray into serious I do get very stressed by the response it might get, and I don't like it. #brilliantblogposts

  29. February 25, 2016 / 9:33 am

    You are SO absolutely right. If I'm ever on the receiving end of negativity/trolling then I'll either take the overtly kind route or sometimes, if I'm in one of those moods, I'll go down the sarcastic road. Sometimes I can't help it. Your responses to those who were unnecessarily mean was brilliant. Well done you. #brilliantblogs

  30. May 21, 2017 / 10:44 am

    I really LOVE your blog, every time I read it I want to do a blog/vlog and instagram too!!
    The best way to deal with nasty peeps is to ignore. Totally then block. You have a right not to be abused. Although having a laugh back at them at their expense is a good one too.

    Sometimes people say things that are well-meaning, others just to be mean. I saw the yellow trousers trend. It's a tough one, so congrats on wearing them so effectively! I look forward to your emails in my inbox! Keep being a beautiful soul. x

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