Sunday, March 13, 2011

How to Respond to a Negative Review

Just say.... "Thank You"

I really could end this post at that. That's really all you need to say. However, that's really hard to do when you're fired up and emotionally wounded. So, here are a few steps to help you get to that point:

Things to write down in an email TO YOURSELF:
1. Identify how much of the review is based on things you can control.
2. Identify what things you could have done better if you or the client had been better prepared.
3. Identify what you never could have had control over, no matter what the situation.
4. Accept that you are human, and that in this human life, sh*t happens.
5. Accept that you have no control over anyone else's emotions or perceptions.

Before responding to your client, have a glass of wine (or whatever relaxes you without overdoing it), get a good night of sleep, and take a nice long bath or shower. After you've had a chance to reset your emotional state, you'll be in a better spot to respond without resentment.

Things to write down in an email TO CLIENT:
1. That you appreciate your client is being honest about their opinion.
2. That you are sorry for providing an unsatisfactory experience.
3. That you would like to know what you can do better next time.
4. That you are committed to providing great service.
5. That you are grateful for the opportunity you had to work with them.

If a review was posted online anywhere, don't respond to it. It will only look defensive and petty for a response on a public site. It's ten times better to simply reach out to clients who appreciated you and ask them to submit their kind and positive reviews to balance any negative public rating you may have received.

A great example of a graceful response to a negative experience, is the one that Conan O'Brian gave on his leaving NBC...

Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practicing marketing & management in corporate and non-profit businesses before pursuing her passion for photography as an independent small business. She loves helping others find creative and low-cost solutions to business problems. Follow her on Twitter to see her daily adventures and thoughts.


  1. beautifully written. thank you

  2. Lovely! Thanks for sharing that inspirational monologue, too.

  3. My daughter is in a photography workshop and received a bad review from a classmate. I'll have her read this for future reference. Thank you!

  4. Anne, This is great. I wish that more people would handle situations like this. It can be terribly embarrassing to admit when we've made an error, but when we own up to it and find a way to make it better, we can hold our heads up and be proud that we did the right thing.


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