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Posting creative projects online is a great way to share your work with the world and get useful feedback. It can help you to feel confident, empowered and connected to other creatives. But, it also opens your work up to criticism from friends, family and total strangers. Criticism is sometimes helpful, but intentionally nasty comments and messages can really sting. Here are our five steps for dealing with haters.

1. Decide if it’s helpful

It’s important to be open to feedback, but not all criticism is constructive. Know the difference between useful feedback and hurtful comments. As a general rule, helpful criticism is given with good intentions and encourages improvement, whereas unhelpful criticism is mean-spirited and unlikely to help you grow.

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2. Think before you respond

A good thing about online comments is that you don’t have to respond in real-time. Take a few deep breaths and think about how the criticism has made you feel. If the comment is helpful, you can let the person know that you’ll consider their opinion. If it’s unhelpful, ignore or delete it. It’s a good idea to take a screenshot of harmful comments so that you have evidence if things escalate. Often, mean comments are left by trolls, so it’s usually not worth replying. Check out our tips for dealing with trolls here,

3. Set your boundaries

Online criticism can really hurt because it can feel like it’s about you, rather than your work. Try to remember that the feedback doesn’t reflect your value as a person. It can be helpful to write a gratitude list to remind yourself of all the other things that add value to your life.

4. Check your self-talk

Negativity can be contagious. Try not to let other people’s hurtful comments impact your self-talk. Listen to your inner voice and make some notes. Use these to challenge your self-talk by asking if there’s any evidence for what you’re thinking. You can even turn it into a mini-debate by writing one positive thing about yourself for every piece of negative self-talk.

5. Take some time out

If online comments or messages are getting to you, go offline until you’re feeling better. Do something you find enjoyable, like going for a walk or listening to music. If you’re still feeling down, have a chat with someone you trust or seek professional help.

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