You have no right to destroy somebody’s business

People who write reports and reviews have no idea what damage they can do.  A small business can be destroyed by a needless bad report.   People have no right to destroy somebody’s hard work.

Why do people do it ?

Why write something unkind ?  It happens all the time.  Reviews on hotels and restaurants, on books and films, holiday accommodation,  …. it is as though people truly believe their voice is important and that they are somehow sort-of warning the public.

What I would like to see is an understanding on the part of the general public that the people they are writing about are REAL PEOPLE.  They have (one assumes) never done anything to hurt you, so why do you hurt them ?  Why would you wish to harm their careers ?

Clearly, you cannot say “this person has great talent” if you feel s/he truly has not – but – frankly – if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing.  Or if you feel that (for some inexplicable reason) you need to add your voice (on the assumption you think your voice is important), then at least BE POLITE.

I realize I am only repeating myself but you should only write a bad review/report if the place was so bad that you sincerely feel you should warn the general public, NOT because you didn’t happen to like it.

And a sad fact is that many report-readers are daft: they take things literally, to heart, and cannot see past the bad review.  To boot, people who write bad reports are usually all fired-up by their disappointment in their holiday/book/hotel and this encourages them to put pen to paper and be nasty.  Whereas people who had a good experience simply go away happy and it doesn’t occur to them to write a good review … or they mean to …. some time next week if they have time …

This creates a very one-sided and biased situation.

There are lots of really nasty people out there, people who get a kick (so sad) out of being vindictive – so don’t add your voice to theirs, not unless it really truly was a BAD BAD experience.

la Rochelle, old port

(photo of the old port in La Rochelle)

Today I picked up a copy of the local paper, something which I rarely do, but a friend had had an exhibition in La Rochelle, showing his sculptures and some decorated furniture.  The friend in question speaks no English, otherwise I think I wouldn’t put this here … but I have never thought much of his work, either the sculptures or the furniture.

Leafing through the paper I soon found a few photos of … let’s call him Jean-Pierre (they are almost all called Jean-Pierre) standing alongside some bizarre stoney blobby thing which was, according to the article, named “Woman on the Beach”.  The article itself was unkind.  It made light mockery of the items on display, and I thought about how hurt Jean-Pierre must feel.

I would not write a review on Jean-Pierre’s work, not least because I didn’t attend the exhibition, but if I were asked to this is what I’d write:

“Jean-Pierre XXX is a new sculptor on the block, and here he tries out his hand at modernistic stone work.  The bizarre forms will either entrance or confuse you, with their rounded lines and enigmatic shapes.  Well worth visiting, this exhibition is on till 27th, and even if you do not like this artist’s work, you will find it food for thought …”

Voila.  I have not said I liked it.  I have not said it is good. In fact, I have covertly warned the astute reader that they may, like me, consider it rubbish.  But I have not been rude, I have not been unkind and I have left the field open for Jean-Pierre to move forwards.

I had an e-mail from somebody I know vaguely who owns a caravan park near Bari (Italy).  He had had a terrible year because his son, aged 7, had died.  He attached a copy of the one and only bad review he got over the summer – from an English woman.  It was so unpleasant and so unnecessary! Of course, she knew nothing of the recent tragedy – but that is not the point.  She did not NOT know, either.  But she did know, unless she is stupid and perhaps she is, that the running of a caravan park takes a huge amount of very very hard work, that the owner is a real live human being ….

When you write a review, ESPECIALLY when the review is about a “small”  unknown person, and regardless of whether it is about a book or a restaurant or a cottage or a seminar please follow these few golden rules:

– if you loved it, say you loved it, but if not:

be polite, be pleasant, never ever bitch

be careful with your wording; you have no right to try to spoil somebody’s hard work

say it was not for you (if you really must – why ??) but do not slag it off and spoil future trade

suggest improvements if you really feel it a good idea, but don’t over-do it

say you wouldn’t go there again (if you really must – why ??) but have a heart and point out the good aspects too

remember the reason why you are writing: is it because it was so SO dreadful (or so SO good) that you feel you must let the rest of the world know ?  Or is it because (most likely) you are in love with the sound of your own voice ?  Because that is the bottom line – the internet has given us all a voice, and we must not abuse that, least of all for the fun of it! .old clock, la Rochelle

(photo of the old clock tower in La Rochelle)


Click here for “Thoughts on how to run a business”


Catherine Broughton is a novelist, a poet and an artist.  She is widely travelled and writes regularly for magazines and blog sites.  Her sketches are on her web site .  Her books are available from Amazon and on Kindle, or can be ordered from several leading book stores.


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Catherine Broughton is a novelist, a poet and an artist.  Her books are available as e-books on this site:-            “A Call from France”          “French Sand”         ”The Man with Green Fingers”        “Saying Nothing”

They are also available on Amazon & Kindle, or can be ordered as paperbacks from most leading book stores and libraries.

Posted on 02/01/2013 by Catherine
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