We work hard for our businesses, and those of you who started your own enterprise are even more deeply concerned about it than others. Which is why criticism of your business can be so frustrating.
Nobody likes to be torn apart in public, especially when a bad review can cost you money. Customers, patients and clients will read online opinions and take them into account when hiring somebody. Your enterprise is no exception.
And it generally seems unfair – and often is. Some people are never satisfied. Some fixate on the problem they had with your business and blow it way out of proportion. Some are right to be angry but can’t let it go. Some are nuts.
But ignore it and move on.
I know this is difficult to do. We always feel better standing up for ourselves. And if we don’t point out the unfairness of a complaint, who will? Nobody.
But, in this age of the internet comment system, we need to adopt a more passive approach. A passive approach feels wrong and is not as emotionally satisfying as standing and defending yourself. Let it go.
Except in very rare and narrow circumstances (discussed below), our best and most productive move will be to ignore the criticism, or take it to heart, but in either case to move on without returning fire. In other words, contrary to American custom, “Don’t just do something. Stand there!”
Many solid reasons support this uncomfortable position.
But in unusual and isolated instances, I have supported attempts to bring down internet business complaints. The deciding element is whether the company has an underlying claim against the online complainer that will win in court. The two likely reasons that might underlie a potentially successful claim are 1) if the online complainer tells lies that can be easily proven to be both false and impactful on the company, and/or 2) the complainer goes overboard with multiple posts, phone calls, or personal action that will support an allegation of stalking or a similar state law prohibiting obsessive and harmful behavior.
Admittedly, there are times where a protective strategy involves standing up for oneself, online and otherwise. But think hard before you decide to do it. The super-majority of these cases I have seen over the past 30 years would have ended best for the business if the complaint had simply been ignored.
Feeding the trolls only brings them back for more.