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Tourism Best Practices

How to Keep Your Cool When Answering Negative Reviews


Even the most cool-headed person can be shaken by a truly bad review. The consequences for arguing with reviewers or insulting your guests can be harsh, so you can’t let it get to you. When you sit down to write your response, it’s important to be calm and collected.

Of course, it’s not always that easy. Need a little help? Here are six ways to regain your calm when faced with a particularly bad review:

1. Remember that it’s not about you. Negative reviews sting the most when they feel like a personal failure, but even if you were involved in whatever made the customer unhappy, they aren’t reviewing you as a person. They’re only thinking about themselves, and maybe the people they care about.

That means they might be more willing to lash out hurtfully, but it’s also a good thing to remember if you need to insulate yourself from their insults.

2. Look at it as an opportunity. Most customers don’t take extreme reviews seriously, so what the reviewer has to say won’t matter much if they’re alone. Your response could convince potential customers that your company is professional and trustworthy, though. In a way, the negative review could actually help you get more bookings.

3. Workshop your answer. If you’re having a hard time keeping perspective, talk to someone else about how to respond. If possible, find someone with good judgment and a cool head. Working with a coworker, employee or friend will force you to step back and consider the bigger picture instead of fixating on the parts that upset you.

4. Take a breather — literally. Anger, anxiety, and fear all come from very similar places within us, and they can all be dealt with in one simple way. Sit comfortably, and take a breath so deep that it feels like it’s filling your stomach. Breathe in for four seconds. Hold that breath for seven seconds. Breath out slowly through your nose for eight seconds.

Repeat that process until you feel calm again. If that doesn’t work, go for a short walk. Try listening to music or a podcast so you don’t spend the whole time writing an argument in your head.

5. Give in. Sit down with a pen and paper. Let the anger fuel a scathing response that will make the reviewer feel like they’re two inches tall. Write a response that will show the world how right you are and how wrong they are. Explain exactly why you’re so upset. When it’s out of your system, delete it, tear it up, or lock it in a drawer.

Whatever you do, don’t type it up into the review response window. Whether by accident or by “accident,” you’d be increasing the odds that your inappropriate reply ends up finding its way online.

6. Play a role. If you can’t seem to get past the frustration you feel, set it aside for a moment. Imagine how you’d write the response if you were someone else — someone purely professional, who had no personal stake in the situation. Write their response instead of yours and see how it turns out.

Remember, it’s perfectly natural to be angry when a customer is abusive, dishonest or cruel. You might not be able to indulge that anger, but there’s nothing wrong with feeling it. As long as you don’t let your anger control your response, you’re doing just fine.


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