How to Avoid Making Negative Comments
I’ve been getting a lot more comments posted to some of my blog articles lately. Unfortunately not all of them are very nice. Sometimes it’s hard not to take things personally. I had been getting so many negative comments in such a short time frame lately that when I would get an e-mail informing me that I had a new comment to moderate I would moan and hang my head in dread of what I was about to read.
A couple weekends ago, I was at my sister’s house, and my e-mail chimed alerting me of a new comment. “Not again.” I groaned. “What’s wrong?” my sister asked. “I’ve got another comment to moderate. I’m afraid to look at it.” I said. “Here, let me read it first,” she suggested. I handed her my phone. Thankfully she smiled as she read it and said, “It’s a good one.” I breathed a sigh of relief. Fortunately, I have received a number of positive and encouraging comments too. Why is it that the bad ones seem to overpower the good? It’s no wonder Paul urges us to keep our focus on positive and good things.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8 (NLT)
Focusing on the negative will only bring us down. It will cause us anxiety and worry (Philippians 4:6), and it could even cause us to get so worked up that we might act out in our emotions and say or do things that we regret. I think that’s probably what happens when people post nasty things or negative comments on my site. They probably read something that they disagreed with or that maybe offended them, and then they acted out of their emotion.
Unfortunately, technology these days has cultivated an environment where it is easy for people to be passive-aggressive. People say things online or via technology that they would never say to someone face-to-face. In light of that, I have a pretty strict comment policy in place on my site to protect my visitors from negative comments that could potentially hurt them or hinder them. I had to lay out some simple ground rules in order to enable constructive conversation while discouraging rude, disrespectful, sarcastic, offensive or off-topic negative comments. I don’t even want to foster an atmosphere that’s conducive to arguments taking place on my site. That’s not God’s purpose for my site. I want my site to be a place of peace.
My policy actually follows some of the communication guidelines that are laid out in scripture:
“When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need—words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you…Do not be bitter or angry or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others. Never do anything evil. Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ.” Ephesians 4:29, 31-32 (NCV)
“…Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)
“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the lord. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” Romans 12:16-21 (NLT)
“Do everything without complaining and arguing.” Philippians 2:14 (NLT)
“Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.” Proverbs 18:2(NLT)
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1 (NKJV)
“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” 1 Corinthians 8:9 (NIV)
I think God intends for us ALL to use these guidelines on a regular day-to-day basis in ALL of our communication. I have to remember this myself when I read something that ruffles my feathers and before I decide to make any negative comments. I have to remind myself that I WILL be held accountable for every word that I say.
“But I tell you, on the day of judgment men will have to give account for every idle (inoperative, nonworking) word they speak. For by your words you will be justified and acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned and sentenced.” Matthew 12:36-37 (AMP)
I jokingly say that I have to remember the Miranda Rights—“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you…” 🙂
In order to keep myself in check and follow these scriptural communication guidelines, I sometimes have to limit what I read and what sites I visit. I have to know the areas where I might be tempted to leave negative comments (or even start to harbor negative feelings toward someone due to something I’ve read). I’ve discovered that I can’t read the comment sections on articles or posts about hot topics, controversial issues, or issues where I may have a strong stance. I’m currently not on Facebook, or I’m sure I’d have to censor some of my own reading there too.
I get a lot of the American Family Association and Focus on the Family e-mails/updates. On many of the e-mails, I can click to read the entire article more in depth. After the article, if I just scroll a little further down…I get sucked in. I can sit there for an hour or more watching people arguing back and forth in a battle of words perpetuating in a vicious cycle. I can hear myself arguing with them in my head, and I can feel my face getting red with anger. I know I shouldn’t post a comment (because quite honestly…what good would it do besides further stoke the fire?!), but boy, am I oh-so-tempted!
It’s the same for articles that I KNOW I shouldn’t even click on to read because I know they’ll make me angry. I have had to learn not to take the bait! The devil knows exactly what he can use to draw me in. He knows what triggers to use on all of us. So what can we do?
Take Some Practical Steps to Avoid Making Negative Comments:
- First and foremost, stay away from sites, posts, articles, and/or groups that might be triggers for you to get angry and tempt you to post negative comments. If you don’t want to get involved in the fight, stay away from the attack. You may even have to remove yourself from some groups if you find yourself getting sucked into the negativity. If you’re not sure what these triggers are for you, try to start noticing when you are getting angry when you read something. When you catch yourself starting to do this, click that pretty little “X” on the top right corner! Or at least move on to a different site, post, etc. Nobody is making you stay there and continue to read. Don’t like it? Change the channel.
Think before you speak…or write—Follow the communication guidelines listed in the Bible. Re-read the scriptures above. If you were to post a comment, ask yourself if it follows those scriptural guidelines. Is it encouraging to the author and fellow readers? Is it helpful or even necessary? Are your words kind and loving? Could your words be perceived as disrespectful or hurtful? Are you writing them in anger? Are you trying to get “revenge” or “teach” somebody a lesson? Could you be perceived as a “know-it-all”? Do your words promote peace? Are you complaining or arguing? Are you just trying to air your own opinion without regard for the opinion of others? Are your words harsh? Could your comment potentially hinder another’s spiritual walk? Be sure to avoid what these scriptures say to avoid, and only write/say the type of communication that the bible encourages. If this is hard for you, it might be a good idea to write out these scriptures on cards, and keep them near your computer or in sight when you are tempted to post negative comments. Also remember…Just because you say “With all due respect” doesn’t mean that everything you say after that is respectful. And ending with “God Bless” doesn’t excuse any negative comments preceding that “blessing”.
- Lastly, ask God to help you avoid making negative comments. Let this verse be your daily confession/prayer:
“Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3 (NIV)
Next week, we’ll talk a little about how to reply to comments that people make to you. I’ll give you some steps to take that I use that have really helped me.
What strategies do you use to avoid making negative comments? Leave a comment below (click on the post link to join the conversation if you’re viewing through e-mail) or take the conversation to your favorite social media channel (sharing links below).
Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are rude, disrespectful, sarcastic, offensive, or off-topic. By posting on this site you agree to my Comment Policy.
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