You Can’t Please Everyone… So Why Are You Trying So Hard To Do So?

Whether you’re an author, speaker, consultant or entrepreneur, if you’re at all visible online, you open yourself up to criticism, unsolicited feedback and sometimes, weirdos. I wish I could say the negative and weirdo stuff will never happen to you, but it does.

I don’t know if was mercury in retrograde, the way the wind was blowing or due to sending out more updates than usual, but a few days ago I received several messages from people on my subscriber list.

Before I share what their  messages were about, let me set the stage for why I sent so many emails in a short period of time.

Challenges Work

Recently, I joined The Ultimate Blog Challenge – a 30-day writing challenge – hosted by Paul Taubman and Danni Ackerman. I joined to be a part of a community of people who all want to write and distribute lots of great content online via their blogs.

Check it out at

What I like most about the challenge is the community involvement and the support from Paul and Danni.

Within days of starting the challenge, I noticed an increase in blog traffic, I generated revenues as a direct result of the posts and increased my readership because of blogging daily.

To get the most traction for my efforts, I've made sure to post the permalink to the posts on various social media channels and, as mentioned, I sent update emails to my subscribers.

Feedback Abounds

I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the number of positive private messages I’ve received from several of my email subscribers about my increased posting. Yet, I’ve also received messages from a few readers not so pleased with my update messages.

Feedback has been everything from, “Oh my gosh! I'm loving getting the daily updates. The content is so useful.” to “You are sending too many updates. Please only send me messages once a week.” to “I can't believe you would actually have a pop up box on your blog. You're better than that. It's like you're begging for business. Tone it down sista!”

I read and respond to the good and bad.  I do consider if what the person is saying is valid enough to make any changes in the way I do things. More times than not, a change is not in order.

What I found interesting is this; within an hour of getting the message about pop up boxes, I read posts on a few blogs I am a huge fan of. All are blogs that have a huge following, are written by industry experts and have great content. All also have pop up boxes.

Some are in the internet marketing space. Some, health and fitness. Others, the book marketing space.

Ironically, I was not at all bothered by the pop up boxes, nor did I feel like the blog owner was begging for business. Nor would I ever think to ask them to tone it down.

I smiled as I saw the boxes appear. I'm sure they get similar conflicting messages from their subscribers.

Avoid Changing Who You are Based on Someone Else's Opinions

I also found the comment, “Tone it down sista!” interesting. From childhood, many of us have had people tell us to get in line, behave, don’t rock the boat, tone it down. There comes a day we realize “not toning it down” is what make us who we are.

Many of the most successful people in the world, in a variety of fields, are the ones who refused to tone it down. And likely, they were told to do so many, many times.

But I digress… the fact is, pop up boxes work. Sure, not everyone likes them, but no matter what you do, you won’t please everyone. It’s impossible to think you can. Yet, some people do try to please everyone. They make changes to their business model, online marketing or content development based on feedback from one or two people.

My goal is to ALWAYS create massive value for my community. In this, I know I cannot please everyone.

If you are going to be visible online, as a speaker or as an author, you better have broad shoulders, not take things personally and avoid basing your choices on one or two comments.

Sure, if you get lots of negative messages in a short period of time, it’s well worth considering a change.  But for the most part, you need to avoid a knee jerk reaction to negative comments. By the same token, don’t assume one good comment means you are on track.

All of this is a process. It’s about testing, adjusting, analyzing and making changes that are in the best interest of your community.

Amazon Opens Us Up to a Lot of Feedback

One place feedback is open for public scrutiny is on Amazon. Book reviews are visible for all to see.

Recently, I published an eBook – Blog Book Tours. The book received a few reviews. Two were very positive and one was a 1 Star by someone who didn’t even read the book. They rated the book at a one due to a typo in the description and the Look Inside Feature.

I immediately fixed the typo in the description, but have yet to fix the one inside. I had to look at the amount of time I wanted to put into the fix of a 99-cent eBook. Not that I like having a mistake in the book, but it's about ROI. The world is not going to fall apart due to one typo in the Look Inside Feature of the book.

What I learned years ago is to take criticism as it is given. Is it constructive or is it simply someone blowing smoke?

Here’s what to do when you get feedback…

Don’t Take It Personally

Everyone has received feedback. How someone feels about your book, info product, presentation, consulting style may have nothing to do with you being inferior or the person not liking you. It’s a chance to look at your part in something and if it makes sense, make a change just like I did with the typo in my Amazon Kindle Book description. The person gave me valid feedback and I took appropriate action.

Consider the Source

Is the feedback coming from a reliable source? Are they someone whose opinion you respect? Do they know the full story?

Look at it From the Other Person’s Perspective

I like to ask myself the question, “I wonder what their positive intention is in giving me this feedback?” Often, someone is trying to help when they give feedback. Yet, their feedback may be based on outdated information. For example, when I chose to let go of wearing business suits, I had a few older relatives who said, “It’s not professional to not wear business suits.” These were people in their 80’s who, in their day, you had to wear a suit to be considered professional. The intention was sincere, the timing outdated.

Respond Without Being Defensive or Snarky

Whenever we get feedback that is way off in left field, wrong or just plain strange, the temptation is to become defensive or respond in a very snarky way. Resist the temptation. As mentioned previously, consider the source. Are they someone who is critical of most people? In the case of a reviewer on Amazon, are most of their reviews low? If so, it may just be their personality. If not, be willing to consider the feedback as valid.

Consider the Long-Term

Comments made online are often permanent. Before doing anything, consider that what you put online lasts virtually forever. Rather than immediately responding to criticism, think in terms of how you will feel if you see your response a week, month or year down the road. Not only how you will respond, but how will others think of you based on what they find you posted at any point in time.

The bottom-line is this, feedback helps us improve, when it’s worth listening to. As you gain more visibility, you do open yourself up to increased feedback. Some good and some not so good.

Keep an open mind, consider the source, and determine if a change is in order.

However, don’t let one person’s opinion of you stop you from being who you are. Play full out, be who you are and do what you are here to do…make a difference.

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  1. What wonderful advice for everyone thank you taking the time to share it this morning. May you have a Blessed day.

  2. So, Ms. KG, you hit upon the exact reason why I began blogging about a decade ago. I was known (infamously?) for sharing five, ten, maybe even a score of eMails daily about things I thought my friends and clients needed to know- for business and pleasure. Many of my associates thought that I was overloading [everyone?] with my submissions. So, I switched to a blog- and only send two to four eMails a day. (Because now they can scroll through my index to find what they need…)

    • Kathleen Gage says:

      Wouldn’t it be great if we could find the “magic” number? For some, it will always be too much. For others, not enough. LOL Thanks for your comments Roy.

  3. This is very good info and encouraging for me. One of my greatest fears of success is about the prevailing criticism.

  4. People nowadays seem to be so brave behind the computer keyboard. i used to perform at comedy clubs as a (Clean) headliner act. I would’ve loved some of these same people to try to make those derogatory comments that they do behind the keyboard at the comedy club I would’ve verbally shredded them on the spot. ( Of coarse in a creative way of putting them in their place and pointing out all the cool things they going to miss out on with an attitude like that ) I hate when people are mean spirited. If any joke has malice behind it. The joke should not be done period!!! I dislike the fact that we live in a world that people say mean things. unfortunately, that’s the way it is now. Kathleen you do great job trying to make this world a better place. Keep it up!
    As for me and the people I hang out with love and respect is where it’s at and always will be.

    • Kathleen Gage says:

      Love your comments Scott. And you are so correct, behind a computer screen people are pretty brave. Sadly, not always in a good way.

  5. Very encouraging reminder Kathleen. And timely for me. I recently got laid out by an in-person attack of my work…in spite of the fact he was WAY OFF on what he was saying. He did later apologize (sort of). It’s good to keep the things you shared in mind…especially your point of considering their motivation. Are they really trying to help? Yes. I think he was. Was his info outdated or way off base? Yes it was. So I can learn to just discard it…and not ruin the relationship.

    • Kathleen Gage says:

      Wow! Thanks for sharing Carla. We never know what someone’s motivation is or what they may be going through that gets triggered by something we do. I realize my job is not to try and figure it out. My job is to keep my side of the street clean.

  6. I really needed this one. I don’t let negative criticism get me down NEARLY as much as it did years ago, but it’s still hard to take. In my case, the negative comments tend to be about content. I have no problem with people disagreeing with me. I have a serious problem with people who put me on hate sites or say I’m a bad person because they believe differently than I do! I have learned to do what I believe is the right thing. That includes listening respectfully to criticism and changing if it’s the right thing. It more commonly includes sticking to my guns.
    Thanks for your tips and encouragement. (Oh, and by the way, it’s possible that your poster used “sista” as an attempt to lighten the atmosphere and let you know it was meant in a good spirit. I hope so!)

    • Kathleen Gage says:

      I checked your site out Debbonaire and LOVE it. You have an important mission and need not let anyone’s opinion stop you.

      As far as the word sista, great perspective.

  7. I have no problem with your emails Kathleen. They are great content and interesting. I tend to unsubscribe if people post more than once a day, purely because I’m really busy and don’t have time to go through endless emails, especially if they’re all about the same thing. Popups are annoying, but just part of doing business these days. I just close them and move on.
    The world is full off angry people, so the more you post, the more they come out of the woodwork. Just ignore them 🙂

    • Kathleen Gage says:

      I’m so happy to hear you enjoy my emails. I do strive to create value. I agree about the people coming out of the woodwork. LOL

  8. Great post Kathleen. First of all, I enjoy your increasing your posts as you provide more value than most of the others I follow. I do get annoyed with some who bury us in emails, but when the quality of the content is as good as yours, bring it on. Regarding knee jerk reaction, I was a victim this summer. I conduct a leadership weekend for 19 – 24 year olds, during which I play an Earl Nightingale segment, 7 minutes long, where he talks about how we are all unique and we should not feel inferior or superior to anyone. It is a great message, but Earl recorded it in the late 1950’s and at the end he uses the terms “him” and “himself” several times. One of the attendees took offense and suggested we remove this from the program as it was not politically correct. Our committee immediately started telling me what I should replace the segment with. I have resisted and will not give in as the message is too powerful to replace it with something else because one person took offense. – thanks Kathleen

    • Kathleen Gage says:

      Thanks so much Keith. And I’m with you… keep it in. Earl Nightengale is a mentor many of us learned from through his books and talks.

  9. check out the book by Sarah Robb O’hagen, Extreme You, it is a blast of fun about
    doing it your own way, pass or fail. The author has great biz credentials, and she
    has a lot to say about being yourself and doing it your own way. Not toning yourself down, but being more the person you are is what is unique. Kathleen, I love your no nonsense leadership style. I don’t ” need more mass market platitudes. I want experience, good or bad, challenges, and education.
    You have a perspective, and an edge, and I love your courage to do it your way .
    it is inspiring. surveying is useful, so follow your instincts to interpret.

  10. This blog is full of a great deal of useful information. Handling good and not so good criticism is like critiquing. You take what you think is good advice and let go of what you choose not to use. Sometimes what is said about your work hurts, but you have to let it go if you want to be successful. Thank you for sharing this information.

  11. Oh, Wow, Kathleen. I appreciate this post so much.
    In the past, I’ve let the words of a few throw me off track.
    One was a bad review with my second ebook on Amazon.
    It was hypercritical and I took it very personally. I responded in love, but it hurt.
    I no longer have any of my books on Amazon. That’s how sensitive I was at that point.

    As far as the person who mentioned the spelling errors, I do this sometimes as I’d want to know. But, giving a 1 without even buying the book (.99 even) is a bit unkind.

    The internet draws out our true natures instead of the mask we put on in person.

    I personally can’t stand pop-ups even though I know they work. I don’t use them on my blog, but when I did, they converted. ^_^

    • Kathleen Gage says:

      Thanks for your input Sara. I do like when someone tells me of a mistake I’ve made, and diplomacy goes a long way. If they are a jerk about it, I do tend to disregard their input. Approach does make a difference.

      My decisions in business and online marketing are based on my market as well as revenues. I’m in business to make money and I make no secret of that. Business is about making money.

  12. I’m surprised that you actually find this challenge affecting your blog traffic and visibility. Actually I find it a bit of a downer. While keeping to the posting daily is not so difficult, I find that it is directed mainly to an American audience hence my traffic has actually dropped. Also sometimes it can be stressful meeting targets because of the time difference – I actually get to post only in the morning which is well into your night….. So all in all, I find this particular challenge quite non productive. My numbers are actually falling. I’m just plodding on because I’m not really into quitting but the next time round I will opt for a challenge that is more India centric.

    • Kathleen Gage says:

      The thing each of us must do is find what works for our needs, our market, and our goals. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Hi Kathleen
    my younger self would have been affected even upset by negative comments. Add age, experience, learning to standing in my own value and getting myself a great mentor….. I was soon able to understand that any negative comments albeit rare were from women who felt professionally threatened .

    That may sound arrogant, please believe me it’s not. Drilling down and finding out what was going on: these people were in the same business as me and maybe a little further behind in their progress and so I began to notice that every time I upped the anti, improved my skills, implemented better systems that enhanced my business: this is when the snide comments would come.

    I understand now that their comments come from a place of pain ( their pain) that’s why I am always remind clients “not to despair over someone else’s front of house just because your behind the scenes doesn’t look so good right now” you will get there…………

    So these days I take the time to really look at the messaging and I seem to have developed a knack for knowing ” this person is coming from a place of pain” and I just let it go.

    That said if it’s genuine feedback along with constructive criticism where clearly I could do something better: then I’m on it! xx

    • Kathleen Gage says:

      Thanks for your input Dee. I love your perspective. And yes, age does seem to make us less sensitive to negative feedback. Thanks for sharing