Hiding your head in the sand or lobbing a series of f-bombs may come to mind as responses to your small business being the subject of an unwarranted negative review. But, neither of these options is the best Reputation Management response. Count to 10 and take some advice from judo, the sport of self-defense.

Stop. No. We are not going to beat up Mrs. Jones who said your Alfredo sauce smells like her Ferrari’s used oil at replacement time.

To win in combat, use your opponent’s weight & strength as weapons against him. That is the secret to Judo (which is Japanese for “the gentle way”).

When your opponent comes at you, step aside and push him on his path, out of your way. Or… use your critic’s hell-fire prose and rush to pound your business into the ground against him/her. Look at the review to see if there are any violations of Yelp, Google, etc. rules. More than likely no effort was made to stop and look at the rules.

If it is unwarranted, then let the comments pass you and instead confront the words & tone (weight & strength) of the review.

Can you prove it was posted by a former employee or competitor and that pertinent information was intentionally omitted? Does the review fail to describe an actual consumer experience (“the gay, lunch-shift waitress served time 10 years ago, so don’t eat there” has nothing to do with quality of food)? Read the Content Guidelines. Build a calm, collected, and fact-filled plea to remove the review.

This is something best handled by a Reputation Management Specialist or a Social Media Manager. But, if you want to respond to an unwarranted negative review by yourself, this is one option.

It is a sad state of the times that people now feel enabled to vent “fake news” frustrations at small business merchants. Reviews are sometimes poorly veiled attempts at revenge or political dominance. For example, pity the poor restaurant these days that through no overt action does something that defies or supports the President.

Let me repeat we are discussing one unwarranted negative review. If your Alfredo sauce does smell like used Ferrari oil, then removing the review won’t stop other customers from repeating the same negative comment.

In that case, you either need a new cook or to definitely hire a Reputation Management Specialist.

Next time, what to do when the negative review is true.

(Your thoughts are ALWAYS welcome. Turn this into a conversation either here or on my Twitter account @amssvs)