A few years ago I received an email from a complete stranger who wrote…
I admire the work you’re doing and I wanted to bring to your attention a few typos I found on your website. Please review the attached document and make the appropriate adjustments.”
I opened this document and it was a whopping seven pages long. Tupos galore (did ya catch the typo there?!)
My knee jerk reaction was “$%*# YOU, Hater! How dare you! Who do you think you — wait a second…”
And then almost as quickly as that reaction came, it left. It was replaced by “oh my goodness, I just got free copy editing from an obsessive-compulsive-borderline-anal-retentive follower. THIS IS AWESOME.”
I looked through the document and man…she was right! There were typos all over the place! I never would have seen them had she not pointed them out because truthfully, spelling is not my strong suit and I don’t have the patience to comb through copy I’ve written once it’s done and dusted.
After I made the recommended changes, I responded to thank her and share a link to my brand new site which was — knock on wood — typo free.
Fast forward two and a half years later and I get a tweet from a person of power in my industry. Or…a person of perceived power, I should say.
She was also a stranger and she basically called me a con-artist.
Knot in my stomach. Immediately.
Again, my knee jerk reaction was “$%*# YOU, Hater!”
Yet this time, just as quickly as that feeling came up, it didn’t leave. In fact, I spent a full weekend feeling sick about it, worrying about how it would affect my reputation, and wondering how to fix this problem and make it go away. I was afraid and I felt really, really vulnerable.
Meanwhile…she didn’t stop tweeting. She devoted hours to making up stories, slandering my name, and egging me on.
She went out of her way to get a reaction from me and it was all I could do to not engage!
Oh Lordy— all I wanted was to make her wrong. I would have done anything to throw myself into a Twitter battle to clarify things, prove my point, and make her eat her words. How dare she call me names and make claims that were completely false!
But instead, I took the high road. I flushed my phone down the toilet, turned off all computers and meditated sending loving light in her direction…
Actually, I Twitter stalked her, read every single nasty tweet, obsessed, cried, drank wine, and binge-watched Sex in the City while insisting my hubby rub my feet. #nobodysperfect.
But I did not feed the troll! I did not engage.
One whole week of consistent Twitter slander later, she stopped. She finally got the hint that I wasn’t going to take the bait…And a cease and desist letter from my attorney probably helped too.
Whatever it was…my Twitter world was at peace.
So, in the case of the obsessive-compulsive-borderline-anal-retentive-copy-editor, I took care of myself. I made her feedback work for me. I chose how I would receive her feedback because that’s the only thing that I could control.
In the case of the Twitter bully, I did the same thing. I took that feedback and made it work for me by refusing to engage and feed trollish behavior. I couldn’t control her mean-spiritedness, but I could choose how I would react.
So why am I telling you this?
Because it’s never the criticism that matters. It’s always your response.
If you can find a lesson inside the feedback you receive – especially when it feels negative – take it and run with it! It’s going to make you better. And if you can’t run with it, you’ve got to at least let it go.
But in my experience, even this Twitter harassment ended up being so useful to me. It handed me an opportunity to practice professionalism and grace, release my ego, take care of myself, set clear boundaries, and get silky soft feet 🙂 .
And the proofreading email…well, that was just plain awesome.
Every form of criticism offers a lesson. Your opportunity as a coach is to seek out those lessons and make them work for you.
So, I am curious… what has criticism taught you? Head on over to our Coaches on a Mission Facebook group and shed some light for us.
PS: Less than two weeks after Twittergate, I got a new client. I had never met her before and she had never heard of me until she saw this Twitter bully invest so much time complaining about my work!
In fact, the first thing my new client said to me was, “I had never even heard of you but knew you had something figured out because people can’t stop talking about you!”
She ended up being a loyal client for years. It was a very profitable, purposeful, and productive relationship.
When it was all said and done, I ended up getting a total of two dozen students thanks to this stranger’s Twitter harassment.
(In fact, as I write this…maybe I should send her a thank you note or a commission check. Then again… maybe not.)