How to Respond to Comments…especially in touchy situations
Last week I mentioned the increasing amount of negative comments I’ve been receiving on my blog lately. I guess that comes with the territory of “putting myself out there” in a public format. I’ve had to learn how to avoid making negative comments even when that might be my first reaction. I’m still a work in progress. However, I have somewhat of a system now on exactly how to respond to comments, negative or not. I’d like to share it with you because you might also find it useful when deciding how you should reply to people.
At times deciding how to respond to comments can be nerve-wracking even when the comments aren’t negative. Sometimes people are hurting and ask hard questions. Lately, I’ve received numerous comments on a previous post, “How to Overcome Feeling Unloved or Unwanted”. Sadly, this post is one of the most popular posts on my website. I say “sadly” because it makes me so sad to know that so many people feel unloved and unwanted. Then again, maybe that’s exactly why God had me write it and why He directs so many people to that page. It also makes me very sad when I get some of the comments of people still looking for answers because I can almost feel their hurt and pain in their writing. Then, I feel a little scared and overwhelmed knowing that I have to reply to these hurting people to try and give them some answers, encouragement, and hope. It’s a lot of pressure! I actually said to God, “What if I mess them up!?” I honestly feel so completely unqualified at times to help people. In fact, I’ve talked before about making excuses like this with God. They never work. He just tells me to follow his lead and he will instruct me in what to say (Exodus 4:12).
Usually God tells me to just speak what I know from my own experiences and from what God has taught me. If it worked for me maybe it will work for others too! I have a little system or process that I use now to help me determine how to respond to comments. By the way, I totally swiped this process from my sister. It’s now my go-to protocol. This process is good not only for replying to negative comments or to people who need help but really in any situation in which a careful response might be necessary. It’s something that might be helpful when responding to a criticism on social media, writing to a child’s teacher, addressing an issue with a customer/client or employer, drafting a concern or complaint to a company, or even when making an application for employment or scholarship. There are so many situations where you might find this process beneficial! This is especially important if you are formulating written responses because these are forever documented in writing and can come back to haunt you if not handled appropriately or correctly.
Take Some Practical Steps to Decide How to Respond to Comments or to Develop a Careful Message:
- First, pray over the matter before addressing it. Before I reply to any comment, I pray over it (usually extensively). Ask God to see things from his perspective or through his eyes. This will help you get into the right mindset to understand the other party and to make sure you are in the right frame of mind to respond in a godly way.
- If you are responding to written communication, read over it carefully and make notes of what comes to mind as you read it. With verbal communication, listen carefully (or replay the conversation in your head) and make notes (written or mental depending on the situation). Keep in mind that you are trying to see the situation from God’s perspective (sometimes easier said than done, but that’s why we prayed first!).
- After carefully going back over the other person’s communication, pray over it some more and ask God for direction on how, what and even if you should respond. It’s important to ask God for wisdom over the situation. Then listen and see if you have any ideas. Be sensitive about what comes to mind—often when God talks to you, it may sound like your own thoughts (learn more about listening to God here). Keep in mind that sometimes it’s best NOT to respond at all--check out last week’s post on your “Miranda Rights”. 😉
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5 (NIV)
- Get advice from one or two close friends. The bible says there is wisdom in the counsel of many. Getting some advice from a couple of people will help you decide on the best way to respond. It also helps to have a fresh pair of eyes or ears to see the situation from different angles. Obviously, you’ll want to use discretion when deciding where to seek advice.
“A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel” Proverbs 1:5 (NASB)
“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14 (KJV)
“Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.” Proverbs 12:15 (NLT)
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22 (NIV)
“Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life.” Proverbs 19:20 (NLT)
“Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance.” Proverbs 20:18 (NIV)
“So don’t go to war without wise guidance; victory depends on having many advisers.” Proverbs 24:6 (NLT)
- Lastly, form your response by taking your notes and counsel from friends into consideration, and then say a prayer as you write your response asking God to give you the right response and right words to help you proclaim the message as clearly as you should. I actually just turn the following verses into prayer requests for myself straight to God. I pray these same verses each time I write a post.
“For I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you!” Luke 21:15 (NLT)
“…God will give you the right words at the right time.” Matthew 10:19 (NLT)
“And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike.” Ephesians 6:19 (NLT)
“Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!” Proverbs 15:23 (NLT)
“Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.” Colossians 4:4 (NLT)
“Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” Colossians 4:6 (NLT)
What tips do you have about how to respond to others in touchy situations? 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).
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