Responding to Criticism

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Have you ever been criticized for something you did—or someone thought you did?  How did you respond?  When someone offers you unsolicited criticism, you can choose to either ignore or acknowledge.  

Recently, I received some unsolicited criticism from a stranger in an email.  When I first read it, I thought, “How dare this young 20-something ciritcize my work.”  But then I thought that perhaps she was really trying to help me and I overlooked the grammatical errors she was referring to. 

I re-visited the site in question and did not see the errors she said she saw.

I am sharing her email, along with my response.    

 Hello Beverly! 

I read your post on blogxilla.com, and I was quite interested. So I googled you and followed the link: https://beverlymahone.net/dont-ask/  It was a potential purchase I was going to make, but noticed quite a few grammatical errors on the site… I hope I don’t offend you with some constructive criticism.
I am 26, and work in the advertising industry.  I am in no way a writer, nor have I written a paper in YEARS, so I salute you, but thought that perhaps if my email reaches you, you would be able to persuade others into purchasing with the link vs. losing them. Let me explain… writers have editors, and the final product should be nearly if not perfect. Now, maybe your book IS perfection and I’m losing on a good read, but BECAUSE I noticed so many grammatical errors, that I can even catch – being that I’m basic at writing, made me re-think my purchase since it appears I could get the same opinion/advice from an everyday blog writer. I appreciate the time that goes into a book in order to produce quality to a reader…. but because I read the excerpt on the link I scratched the idea of any kind of purchase. 
I thought twice about emailing you, because I know nobody likes negative feedback, but I hope you understand that’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m simply explaining why I didn’t purchase your book, and would like to see you have success. I’m not critiquing your writing skills or the book itself. For all I know someone else wrote the piece on the site, and I have not read your book. I would recommend that you have the people who post the work on the link proofread their material so that you don’t lose any more potential customers. 
Happy Holidays and God Bless
Wendy

Here’s how I chose to respond:

Hi Wendy!

How are you?  Thank you for taking the time to write and offer your comments.  They are sincerely appreciated when written with the intention of being constructive criticism. 
 
I would love you to point out the specific grammatical errors you noticed.  My book was edited by Editor Sandra Holcolmbe, who has a stellar reputation in the editing field.  She used the Chicago Style book–which is standard for editing books.  Even though I spent 25 plus years as a radio and television journalist, I still know the importance of having another pair of eyes to edit your work.  It makes all the difference in the world between a good book and a bad one. As far as the writing style goes, it is my signature style so if that concerns you, you will never enjoy any of my books.  
 
I did, in fact, go back to the page to see for myself and honestly did not see the errors you were referring to so that is why I ask you to point them out.  I will forward them on to Sandra for her review.  In the meantime, I’ll be happy to send you a free copy if you provide an address. 
 
You just gave me a wonderful idea for a blog post and I do appreciate it.  And no, I don’t mind negative feedback.  If everyone loved me or my work, there would be nothing to continue to strive for.  The Word tells us life will be constantly full of challenges, it’s how you handle them them that matters.
 
Have a great day and a wonderful holiday season.
 
Beverly Mahone

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6 thoughts on “Responding to Criticism

  1. Very nicely done. You know, I’m not sure how I’d have responded, and that’s probably the most honest answer I can give you. I know I’ve responded well most of the time, but I’ve also been snarky here and there when I totally disagreed with what came my way.
    Mitch recently posted..Links To Stuff By And About Me

  2. Bev,

    A++ for the way you handled this. I’m assuming by the content of her email that her intentions were honorable and her goal was to share her insights about why she didn’t read the book. The way it as written, however, did make that difficult to ascertain – but I always try to err on the side of the positive and not the negative.

    You responded with professionalism, grace and most importantly, with information to neutralize the criticism – well said, my dear!

  3. Thanks Debra, Kim, Mitch and Evelyn. To be perfectly honest, it could’ve gone another way but I chose the high road because I truly believed she meant well. If she had told me I should give up trying to write or something along those lines, I’m not sure if I would have been as nice as I tried to be in my response.

    And now that I know she was intoxicated when she wrote the initial post, all I can do is smile 🙂
    Beverly recently posted..A Grandparents Truth About Santa Claus

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