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Handling Negative Comments on Social Media: What Would Dale Carnegie Do?

When using a social channel to interact with your fans, you may be dealing with people that are not satisfied with your product or service, and they’re letting your other fans know on your social sites.  Despite what the issue might be, the question remains: What’s the best way to deal with negative comments?

As we’ve done the last few weeks, let’s go to Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People for the answer.

In his book, Carnegie examined behaviors in four different areas:

  1. Handling People,
  2. Ways to Make People Like You,
  3. How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking,
  4. How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment.

Let’s examine the first area, Handling People, in the context of dealing with negative comments on social sites.  Carnegie identified three principles that were fundamental techniques in this area:

  1. Principle 1:      Don’t’ criticize, condemn or complain.
  2. Principle 2:      Give honest, sincere appreciation.
  3. Principle 3:      Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Perhaps the most critical is the first Principle, never criticize, or condemn.  Even though you may be dealing with someone who is criticizing you or your business, you should not respond in kind.

If you post negative comments, even if you are right, that person will need to justify themselves, and will do so by condemning you and your business in return.  This will only escalate the debate, one that is taking place on a public, social site.  That will never make your company look good.

Instead, express sincere appreciation for that person’s comments, which is Principle 2, and invite them to discuss the matter with you offline, through email, phone or texting.  During the offline exchange, make sure you give credence to that person’s concern, and sincerely treat them as an important person.

You’ll want to do this because the deepest urge in human nature is the desire to be important or appreciated.  When you treat someone as if they are important, you will gain the power of influence with him or her.  That person will then be open to a compromise solution, and will likely remain loyal in the future.

As you interact with fans and customers, don’t forget to try to arouse in them an eager want (Principle 3).  Ask them what would make them happy, or how they would like to resolve the situation.  Find out why that person wanted your product or service originally, show them how it still can meet their needs or wants, and re-excite them about the prospect.  You can influence others by learning what they want, talking about it, and showing them how to get it.

Social media can be a powerful tool for engagement with your customers.  With the good interactions, though, can sometimes come the bad.  It’s just a product of human interaction, and you should prepare for it.  How you handle that interaction will determine whether you lose a customer, or gain a soulmate for life.

Bob Turner is a certified Social Marketing and experienced Digital Marketing professional with Engage321.

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