Jul 30, 2021
Today we are going to be talking
about something that is sort of a fact of life whether we like it
or not. If you want to live in the world amongst other people and
put your personal or professional brand out there, you need to be
prepared for negative reviews.
This episode was inspired by a
long-time listener who has become a friend and colleague – Jeff
Pool from the Human Behavior Lab at Texas A&M University.
Thankfully, it wasn’t inspired by him giving a negative review to
The Brainy Business or anything like that. Instead, it was
something he suggested a while back could be an interesting
episode. It felt like the right time with my book just coming out a
couple of months ago now, and the recent behavioral economics
analysis of Amazon episode where I talked about the power of social
proof and how they popularized reviews.
I also asked the BE Thoughtful
Revolution for some insights on what they might like to know or
what comes to mind when thinking about negative reviews while
creating the content for today’s episode. The consensus was based
on how to respond to them: Should it be done right away or delayed?
Publicly or privately? What tone to use? And more.
- [00:07] Today’s episode is
dedicated to negative reviews.
- [00:45] If you want to live in
the world amongst other people and put your personal or
professional brand out there, you need to be prepared for negative
- [03:42] Melina shares an email
from her friend Kurt Nelson of the Behavioral Grooves podcast
hoping I’d get 4.7 stars on my book.
- [05:11] It is important to
accept that negative reviews are coming and just wrap your head
- [07:54] Why do we feel these so
much more and why do they stick with us differently? Why is their
weight heavier than positive reviews?
- [08:23] The reason we even look
at or have influence from reviews and testimonials and star ratings
(also known as social proof) is because of our natural tendency to
- [10:21] Negative reviews are
triggering our herding instincts and make the subconscious get
scared of what could happen if we get too many more of those in the
- [11:43] Reading or otherwise
looking at negative reviews makes us focus on them more than the
positive ones because of those herding instincts.
- [13:34] We have a perception
about ourselves and the type of person we are: honest, ethical,
good at what we do. When we are confronted with information that
threatens that perspective our brains really don’t like it, we want
to resolve that cognitive dissonance.
- [15:12] Even though you don’t
like it, there is probably some kernel of truth in the negative
thing someone had to say about you or your brand. What if you
looked for the learning opportunity in a negative
- [17:00] Don’t ostrich – It may
be tempting to avoid reading the reviews because they can be
painful, but not knowing what people are saying doesn’t make it so
they don’t feel that way (and aren’t sharing with
- [18:48] In general, yes, you
should respond to all the comments you get, both good and bad. And,
tempting as it may be, don’t delete negative comments. (If they are
profane or blatant lies it could be an exception, but in general,
this is not a good practice.)
- [20:12] People aren’t often
expecting any response, let alone a kind and open-minded one. You
will be surprised at how many people you can bring back around to
- [23:12] It is best to respond
to the person wherever they posted to begin with.
- [24:30] You want and need that
public acknowledgment for all the future people who see the
- [27:39] Treating this person as
a human who deserves kindness triggered some reciprocity and
encouraged them to act in kind and, as far as I know, keep
listening and following me.
- [28:29] Not everyone is your
customer and that is ok! There are so many people out there who you
can or will resonate with; focus on them.
- [30:54] It is really important
to know what you are about, who you are for, and why you do the
things you do before you are confronted with a negative review that
addresses one of those things.
- [33:39] The lesson is to know
your customer and identify what matters to your brand when you are
in a cold
state, so you can know what to take
to heart and change, and what can be heard and let go of without
having to constantly address your strategy.
- [34:08] There are some times
where it makes sense to say you are sorry, of course, but in
general, you don’t need to (and actually shouldn’t).
- [35:29] You can absolutely
acknowledge their feelings, but you don’t have to say “sorry” to do
- [37:30] When you identify what
matters to you and your company in that cold state, it is also
important to know about your brand voice.
- [38:56] For most brands, it is
best to be respectful and kind in your correspondence with
customers and others in public and in private.
- [40:05] Do what you can to
reframe your perception to see the opportunity in a negative
- [40:18] Hating negative reviews
is natural because of our herding instincts, focusing illusion,
fundamental attribution error, and cognitive dissonance, but
thankfully understanding that can help you feel better about
addressing them, overcoming your instincts that might not be the
best initial response, and letting you give the reviewer the
benefit of the doubt when crafting responses.
- [41:08] Don’t jump to
apologizing. More often than not it will not work well.
- [41:21] Melina shares her
- [41:23] The Brainy Business was
nominated for the best market research podcast of 2021. Vote for
The Brainy Business
here by August
Thanks for listening. Don’t
forget to subscribe on
Android. If you like
what you heard, please leave a
review on iTunes
and share what you liked about the
I hope you love
everything recommended via The Brainy Business! Everything was
independently reviewed and selected by me, Melina Palmer. So you
know, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That
means if you decide to shop from the links on this page (via Amazon
or others), The Brainy Business may collect a share of sales or
More from The Brainy Business:
Get the Books Mentioned on (or related to) this
Past Episodes & Other Important Links:
Check out International Book
Awards Finalist, What
Your Customer Wants and Can’t Tell You on Amazon, Bookshop, Barnes &
Noble, Book Depository, and Booktopia