Celia Rivenbark: How to handle criticism with gentle care and respect

Is it just me or are we all wound a little too tight lately? Sure, it’s an election year but everyone seems more on edge than usual. Kelly Ripa even flounced off her own set in a Kanye-like huff the other week. Kelly Ripa!

I blame Lyin’ Ted Cruz. What? That’s not his first name?

But there is one place you can go for solace when the world has gotten too shrill and angry, a place where you can say the most awful thing and it will be met only with pleas for understanding and forgiveness.

I am, of course, referring to Trip Advisor.

In this fractious society, we could all learn a few things about agreeing to disagree in a calm and respectful manner by simply reading Trip Advisor.

Consider the gracious and measured response from the proprietor of a restaurant that a commenter gave low marks to for “simply awful food and even worse service. I spent the evening crumpled in a stomach-heaving heap on my bathroom floor.”

The restaurant manager reacted calmly: “Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention. I can assure you that those of us here at (50 Shades of Borscht) strive to create a memorably delicious meal in a lovely setting facilitated by a top-drawer staff. We apologize for your sub-par experience and hope that you will give us another try!”

Now isn’t that nice?

Hotel managers are also remarkably courteous, no matter how vile the accuser’s comments.

“The sheets felt like burlap and the water pressure was awful. I could’ve sworn I saw the remains of a chalk outline in the carpet between the beds.”

A quick response from the hotel manager was a blend of sympathy and pluckiness.

“We try to use only the finest burlap in our sheets. Ha-ha! Little joke there. We know you were using humor to emphasize your point re: chalk outline, but you should know that, as a result, we have instructed housekeeping to do a more thorough job of vacuuming! Thank you for such a colorful admonition! We hope that you will give us the chance to serve you again in the future and prove that we deserve your business.”

Not a single acrimonious word!

Some of the responses are so unrelentingly gracious that I wonder if some sort of “bot” is actually writing them. Is it possible for a real human to handle criticism with such gentle care and respect?

Probably not. Recently, I’ve received a higher than usual number of “and your little dog, too” emails for a political column I wrote. There was even a handwritten letter predicting that I was going to “burn in hell.” Which, incidentally, sounds “super uncomfortable.” The best part was that it came to my home, addressed to me or “current resident.”

Trip Advisor teaches me to respond with kindness. So, here goes: “Thank you for your concern about the state of my soul. Do you like borscht? Because I know a great place…”