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You Can’t Please Everyone So Start With Pleasing Yourself

Posted by on Mar 28, 2013

I found this to be an interesting turn of events. Every once in awhile I write reviews of things, my opinion on a book, movie, software, etc. Most of the time I don’t know the people all that well, although on this blog I wrote a review of Bev Mahone’s book How To Get On The News Without Committing Murder and I know her fairly well.

There’s a happy guy!

In that vein, I recently wrote a book review on a book by someone I’ve known for 10 years. I can’t say we’re great friends, but he’s someone I’ve respected from day one, a very driven and successful guy who wouldn’t be the worst person to emulate in many ways. It’s a good book but not an easy book to read, and I put that in the review, along with other things. I highlighted some things about the book that were positive, and off I went. I even sent him the link to the review so he could see it.

Turns out he didn’t like the review at all. He said it was packed with lots of negatives, and he proceeded to tell me how I should have written the review. He also said that he’d shown it to others who agreed with him and thus felt justified in sharing his thoughts with me.

I was… stunned. I’ve never had anyone hate a good review before. And this is someone who’s seen my writing style, being an early subscriber to my business newsletter. We’ve met in public and I’ve asked him to speak to groups of mine. Frankly, I guess I thought we had a better relationship than we did I suppose.

What did I do? I wrote him back, trying to express that it was written with a positive bent in mind but that I felt it was truthful. I said that I’d never intentionally hurt him and that he should know that as I’ve promoted him to multiple people over the years. I also said that the post would stand, period. His response back didn’t quite like that; so be it. I also asked a couple other people to read the review, just to see if they felt like him & his friends, and they said the review looked positive to them as well as truthful. Here’s that review if you’re interested in checking it out.

Writing is an interesting venture. You find that there are people who like what you do and people who don’t. It’s pretty universal when you think about it; as much as I love the Harry Potter books there are lots of people who hate them and the way they’re written. For that matter there are lots of people who hate Harry Potter that have never picked up a book or seen a movie; that’s pretty hypocritical but what can you do. Sometimes it feels like the lyrics from a Fred Knoblock song (I bet that takes some people back lol)

Although we write our blogs to share our thoughts with others on a myriad of topics, when all is said and done the first person you have to please is yourself. Did you say what you meant to say and did you say it the best way you could? Sure, sometimes people misunderstand what you said or what your position is on something, but the beauty of blogging is that you get to clarify yourself if someone doesn’t agree or understand. Hopefully even with topics that people disagree on they’ll stay civil; doesn’t always happen as you know.

Pleasing yourself first means more than one thing sometimes. Yesterday I sent out a notification to my newsletter subscribers that I was putting it on hiatus for 6 months, and possibly not starting it up again after that period of time. When I initially started writing it I was writing it mainly because I felt I had a lot to share and I thought others might enjoy reading it as well. In the last 2 months I felt I was writing it because of duty and I wasn’t sure that anyone really liked what I had to say, including me. I have the blog for those topics now, and I’m not sure people really like it all that much. Duplicating the effort in a perceived losing quest made no sense after 10 years.

Truth be told, the only way you ever know if someone else likes what you’ve written is if they comment on it. Traffic means nothing because you never know if people actually read it or showed up accidentally through a search and bolted after the first couple of lines. So, if you’re writing to please others, get that thought out of your mind.

Feel the pull of writing, embrace it, smile at it, then do it. If it’s a chore, or there’s no enjoyment in it anymore, give it up, slow it down, or change things up. If you don’t like it, no one else will like it.

Take a breath, smile, laugh and enjoy life. And if whatever it is you do, whether it’s writing or working or playing poker, please yourself. 🙂

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I’m thinking it’s more like Ricky Nelson’s “Garden Party”:
“But it’s all right now/ I learned my lesson well/ You see you can’t please ev’ryone/ so You got to please yourself.’

Seemed like a pretty positive review. Some people don’t seem to understand that review is analysis–not public relations.
Phil recently posted…What Is Cruel & Unusual? Billy Blake and Long-Term Solitary ConfinementMy Profile

March 28th, 2013 | 10:53 AM

Thanks Phil; I like the way you put it. And I’d forgotten about Garden Party until you shared this; funny, but I’m not sure I’d have ever thought of you quoting Ricky Nelson. lol

March 28th, 2013 | 5:21 PM

By now it must be evident to you Mitch that I do everything to please myself. I don’t have to please anyone else any more. I am retired.
Rummuser recently posted…Lion Lady – 2.My Profile

March 28th, 2013 | 11:19 AM

Absolutely Rummuser and most of us probably need to be more like you… when we retire. 🙂

March 28th, 2013 | 5:29 PM

Ya know,
I feel like I’m retired too.

I’m RE tired of all of the bull crap that is being passed around as good advise these days.

The problem with society today is people has NO respect for elders and tradition.

Everybody is so convinced that there is something brand new that will change everything.

Listen up kids, there’s nothing NEW under sun.

You CANT please everybody might as well be happy yourself.

Darnell Jackson recently posted…Is Google Blogger Blocking? Why your keyword is (not provided)My Profile

March 28th, 2013 | 12:28 PM

LOL! Well, I won’t go so far as to say there’s nothing new Darnell because I’ve seen some amazing things that I never ever knew I even would have an interest in. However, what I will say is that because things are always changing and we’re all different that trying to put all of us into the same category and hole as “you are” is illogical. It turns out that studies show most of us acknowledge that we might not like ourselves if we had to deal with us; that’s pretty illuminating. If that’s the case then why do we expect everyone to be us? I expect a certain decorum from everyone; that’s fair. But to expect everyone to see every situation like me… too hard to hope for.

March 28th, 2013 | 5:32 PM

I primarily write for myself as I have a passion for my subject. I do listen to positive criticisms on my writing style but I don’t tend to flip-flop to others views. It would be a very boring place if we all agreed with each other all the time.
Sharon recently posted…Tweasure Hunt – 24 March 2013My Profile

March 28th, 2013 | 4:38 PM

True Sharon. I’m not going to say that some people might not need some improvement in areas such as writing, but I always figure those folks will learn as they go. And as my article on criticism stated, one shouldn’t have to deal with it unless they ask, and then they should be specific in what they’re asking, otherwise you never really know what you’re going to get.

March 28th, 2013 | 5:35 PM

I read the review and from an outsiders point of view I cannot see the negativity, I see that you warn about the size and advise to purchase the portable version. This is the difference between hard and soft cover.
I agree with the sentiment that “those folks will learn as they go”.
Sharon recently posted…Tweasure Hunt – 24 March 2013My Profile

March 28th, 2013 | 6:00 PM

Thanks for checking it out Sharon. I don’t gush often when I write book reviews but some folks want what they want I suppose. Still, if I make even one sale from it I would feel pretty vindicated. However, I doubt that’ll happen. lol

March 28th, 2013 | 7:47 PM

Hey Mitch,

We can’t please all the people all the time, so why even try. I agree with you that we should start pleasing ourselves. In the end, that’s really all that matters.

Take care!

P.S. I read your book review and I think it is a good review. The tone is not negative. I think because you mentioned that you disagreed with one of the author’s points in the book and that it is a huge book, that could be taken as a negative. However, if I was in the market for a book like that I would want to know those points.
Evelyn recently posted…Why I Deleted My Facebook AccountMy Profile

March 28th, 2013 | 7:01 PM

Thanks Evelyn. Actually he did want to debate me on that point and I certainly wasn’t going to change my mind by talking about it. And the way I see it, I told the absolute truths about it & still recommended that people read it. I’ve disagreed with points on other books I’ve reviewed; if we all agree on everything… you know, kind of like you and me and nasty vegetables… did I say that out loud? 😉

March 28th, 2013 | 7:49 PM

To thine own self be true.

Journalistic integrity is the last bastion of the free world. LOL – I think folks have to learn to takes folks as the come, not as they wish them to come.


Mitchell Allen recently posted…Tavern Tall TaleMy Profile

March 28th, 2013 | 8:40 PM

Not only that, but folks need to learn how to accept “good” feedback.

March 28th, 2013 | 10:48 PM

Ouch! Really Mitch…he didn’t appreciate an honest review! Hey, if things are all rosy and little kisses are going on then sometimes I question who is writing the review. Nothing is ever perfect and I skimmed over the review you wrote but you also recommended the darn book! Jeez…

I agree, we need to just make ourselves happy because if we try to please everyone we’re still going to be disappointed because that’s just not humanly possible.

If you can imagine this, I’ve been chewed out more times then I care to say by friends because they “misunderstood” what I was saying and it was all positive. Yikes! I think that in their minds at the time they were just in a bad place so they will just take it wrong even though that’s not how it was intended at all. Sounds like this is what happened with your friend.

I say stick by your morals Mitch and you do what the heck you want. Hey, we’re earned that right my friend and by the way, it’s your blog and you can write whatever you want. 🙂

Rock on Mitch and have a fabulous week.

Adrienne recently posted…How To Impress Your Blog ReadersMy Profile

April 1st, 2013 | 3:56 PM

Thanks Adrienne. First, I don’t know why but many comments here are still going to the spam filter first; can’t figure it out. Second, you’re correct when you say that it’s a strange thing when people object to things you say, especially when you think they were positive. Yet it reminds me of a post I wrote on my business blog about communications while reviewing another book when the author said that everyone should always expect that at some point someone isn’t going to understand what’s being said and take it wrong, no matter how simple you try to make it. Lessons learned, right?

April 1st, 2013 | 5:06 PM

Hey Mitch!

I read the review and to me the tone is overwhelmingly positive. You even close by saying that you wholeheartedly recommend the book. It really doesn’t get better than that.

The specific example where you disagreed was written with good grace, and provides some welcome information to the potential buyer. I think it’s better that someone not buy it for that reason than buy it, disagree and then go on Amazon or somewhere and leave a negative review or low rating which will end up costing the author potential revenue.

This sort of subject matter isn’t my wheelhouse, but I can’t see why he would complain about a review that’s as clearly positive as this one.
John Garrett recently posted…Veronica Mars – Kickstarter To The RescueMy Profile

April 4th, 2013 | 2:13 PM

Thanks John. Everyone has a different way of looking at things and in his opinion I should have been pumping him up more. Not my style unless I’m really into it deeply, and I had told him beforehand that I disagreed with that position. Hey, I got a blog post out of it, right? 🙂

April 6th, 2013 | 10:13 PM

Haha! Mitch, you know what I have faced this kind of problem many times. I don’t understand why people don’t accept negative reviews positively. I have stopped giving explanation now. I mean people have their own opinions on everything and if they try to express, the opposite party should willingly take that comment. You are absolutely right, Pleasing yourself is the best thing you can do. Because everyone has their own expectations and if we keep on pleasing them, it won’t be possible for us to survive. Great post! Thanks for sharing!

April 6th, 2013 | 6:31 AM

Thanks Nicholas. Actually, I could see why someone might not like a negative review, but not liking a positive review is something different. Still, if we’re doing the best we can & someone else doesn’t like it and they’re not paying us… their problem.

April 6th, 2013 | 10:32 PM

I agree with the other commenters, Mitch. The review is almost entirely positive. You differed with him on his view that systems are more important than employees, but a disagreement adds credibility to your review. When I read a review that’s gushing from beginning to end, I wonder if it was written by the author’s brother.
Charles Gulotta recently posted…Where Has All the Magic Gone?My Profile

April 7th, 2013 | 11:22 AM

Thanks Charles. I often look for something I think is a major point, whether I agree or not, to prove that I actually read the book. Well, it is what it is right?

April 8th, 2013 | 9:35 AM

Great post defiantly some times people only read some review and they judge the whole story but without read you can not decide negative or positive terms. just few people opinion.
Rishabh Misra recently posted…Chapelco phpBB Style from RocketThemeMy Profile

April 8th, 2013 | 1:53 AM

Rishabh, if one writes a review without really reading, watching, or using something then it means absolutely nothing.

April 8th, 2013 | 9:37 AM

I’ll share some wisdom I learned from my over 20 plus years of performing on stages all over the world 🙂 ( I was also a professional singer) Just because they don’t clap doesn’t mean they didn’t love you. Just because they don’t comment – well same thing.

I have a lot of people say oh I saw that post I loved it, never left a single word. Not sure why. Sometimes it does feel as if we are writing in the air but as you said if you are doing what you love, well if only you enjoy it then that’s all that matters. Thank you for visiting me today and I’m sure your review was great.
Lisa Cash Hanson recently posted…The Dirty Secret No One Told You About Commenting On BlogsMy Profile

April 9th, 2013 | 2:25 AM

Thanks Lisa, and welcome to the post. I sang at weddings for 14 years as well and the only time I heard applause of any type was the final song I ever performed; didn’t see it coming since you don’t usually get applauded in church during weddings. You’re correct of course, people will let you know if they really liked something in their own way, so sometimes we just have to plow through until we get there.

April 9th, 2013 | 11:15 AM

This post of yours really had a resonance with me today Mitch: I’ve had a tough couple of weeks, where I had choose between pleasing one person or the other. It resulted in alot of upset and drama, and I must say I have come to the conclusion you are best to make yourself happy first, because no matter what you do, someone wont like it.

April 19th, 2013 | 6:33 AM

Exactly Richard. The idea is to do the right thing and the thing you’ll be most comfortable with, and if others don’t like it then it’s on them. It’s probably one reason I keep most of my friends separate from each other. lol

April 20th, 2013 | 6:38 PM

I think we please people to please ourselves. But we can just directly please ourselves, we won’t have to bother about others 🙂
Pitt Goumas recently posted…The Wonders of HIV Home TestMy Profile

May 3rd, 2013 | 11:14 AM

There’s nothing wrong with pleasing other people but there has to be some balance, and we have to get something out of the deal as well.

May 3rd, 2013 | 4:24 PM
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