Don’t Wrestle with Pigs

If you speak, write books, or blog, you will get criticism. It is inevitable. I have certainly had my share. I’d like to say that my skin has gotten thicker with age, but it hasn’t. Criticism still stings.

Pigs in a Pig Pen - Photo courtesy of ©, Image #12327217

Photo courtesy of ©

Recently, I was tempted to respond to a blogger who had attacked my company. As I was considering what to say, I heard a politician on the radio responding to an opponent who had called him a liar.

He said,

A wise friend once told me, ‘Don’t wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pigs like it.’”

That was all I needed to hear. I dropped the issue and moved on.

Question: Have you had a recent pig wrestling experience?
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  • Peter_P

    I think part of this is that we all need to learn how to deliver CONSTRUCTIVE criticism rather than just offensive, destructive criticism.

    There are always those who just want to be pigs and I agree completely that they should be ignored but then there are those of us who genuinely want to help.

    Maybe you could write a post on how to present constructive criticism?

  • Mitch Ebie

    I have not had to deal with this too much, fortunately. However, I appreciate this advice as I expect to have to deal with it more in the future. In most cases, the criticism from others will not cause near as much harm to my character as I could cause by retaliating.

    • chol cabral-caldito


  • orualundone

    That is literally the best thing I've heard all day!

  • Ryan Stanley

    Nicely done Michael. As you mentioned, it’s inevitable that we’ll receive criticisms anytime that engage in a public format in which we put ourselves out there. The important thing to remember is that anytime someone has something negative to say, their thoughts are really more about who THEY are and the life that THEY’VE led then it is about you. In the same sense, if someone finds something positive to say about you or likes what your presenting that is also about who they are, and those are the people who you are writing/speaking to anyway. In others words, we need not worry about those who don’t like our product, because we’re not making it for them anyway. Thanks for posting and keep up the great work!


    Ryan Stanley
    Director of Strategic Alliances
    The Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC)

  • Mandy

    I am going through that right now at work. I prayed and prayed and even though, I wanted to get down and dirty, I believe the Lord told me to let the matter drop. I didn't want to at first, but in the end I didn't give up, but decided to pray for those who were slandering me. After all, God's in control and He knows the Truth.

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  • Patty

    I have always liked this quote, I think that it came from John Maxwell.

  • Roland

    Another pig aphorism, unknown source: “Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.”

    Hey, maybe there's a book idea here–Everything I Need To Know I Learned From My Pig, or The Wisdom of Pigs, or The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pigs, or…..

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  • Roger Fields

    "There is no greater gift than a fierce critic" Tom Peters.

  • Ricardo Bueno

    Good advice!!

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  • Krister

    Very, very sage advice…and hilarious!

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  • Anonymous

    Yes, today actually! Sticky spot….when to speak out, and speak up for someone who is hurting – and also receiving an enormous amount of mockery and ridicule from folks who claim to follow Christ. But, this is a great reminder – thanks Michael.

  • Hotard Michael

    Matthew 7:6b

    neither cast your pearls before swine,

    Some people want to argue just to argue. What is true has no meaning to them. I have had many heated exchanges on Youtube and Blogger. When my opponent resorts to vulgarity and ad hominems, I know it is time just to walk away. The truth is too valuable a treasure to allow the pigs to just trample over it.

  • Doug Hibbard

    Thanks for re-tweeting the link to this. I needed that today.

  • Carltown

    Yes, I’m involved with a small group trying to lead out city to amend the city charter next week to protect the parks. People with money see the parks as a land bank they can use for highways and other non-park uses. Great quote for us. They enjoy getting dirty.

  • Julia

    Thank you for the reminder. I have had 3 pig interactions this week, ugh.

    The mud they sling may hit me, but that doesn’t mean I need to go crawl down into the mud to respond. Here’s to letting go of the sting and staying out of the stink!

  • Joe Abraham

    Thanks for the openness. That principle works and helps us to move on track.

  • Joe Lalonde

    That’s a nice way to deal with criticism and attacks!

  • Asfa

    I regularly wrestle myself from responding to trolling or angry comments. 

  • GinaParris

    Uh yeah! I blog about sex & marriage and even have a radio show on the topic. You can imagine the responses – I make my co-host at sexymarriageradio refrain from forwarding me any that are truly hurtful! I can say though, that we are called to both attract and repel – and I love the wrestling with the pigs illustration.  Besides, the lives we help are worth it all – especially when we’re obeying God!

    • Barry Hill

      I can only imagine the stories you must get! But what a great opportunity to help people and speak word of encouragement!

  • Erin Joy Hollister

    I love that quote! I keep a magnet with it (worded slightly differently and attributed to George Bernard Shaw) hanging on my filing cabinet at work. It’s been a great reminder to keep my mouth shut on so many occasions.

    • John Tiller

      I need to get the magnet!

  • Frank J. Kenny

    Michael, I used to run a local chamber of commerce. In such a visible community position I was often criticized for this or that. What I came to realize was that there would never be a time when 100% of the people liked me or our positions. It was simply part of life. Somebody would always be upset with me (or us).

    Some things that helped me to deal with it was the  quote, to paraphrase, “Nobody kicks a dead dog” and Churchill’s, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

    One last thought….It is not your enemies that hurt you deeply. It is your friend’s criticism that burrows deep and leaves a scar.

    • Barry Hill

      This is great input, and I totally agree about the scars from friends and family leaving the deeper wound. good stuff.

  • Ken McIntyre

    This is a brilliant post. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jim Fletcher

    That is so weird that someone would “attack” Thomas Nelson.

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  • chol cabral-caldito

    Haha! yeah I’m wrestling with a pig now and when I saw this post, you’ve made me decide to drop it. I am starting to get dirty and it’s not worth it! Thanks for this simple but straightforward post!

  • @DarrellWolfe

    AH! This happened to me just the other day! Good reminder.

    One way I did find of backing out of it once you engaged it, is to back up. Stop “arguing your point”. And start asking WAY more questions, and stop making any kind of absolute statement. Start playing dumb even. “Oh… that’s interesting. What makes you say that…”

    One of sever things will happen.

    1. The Pig will turn him/her self around in circles and fall away.
    2. The Pig will learn from his/her own words.
    3. You will find that You Too can learn from Pigs.

    Thanks for this reminder Michael. I needed to hear this today.

  • jeff

    That’s awesome advice I enjoyed that I’ll have to pass that on

  • Brian Horvath

    I recently had a “pig-wrestling” experience; however, this time, I had the appropriate footwear, so to speak. I waited longer than I should to respond to this person (this person was awaiting a response to something that was connected to the criticism) which allowed me to settle my anger and deal with it in a Christ-like way. The person apologized; however, I don’t think they’ll be “changing their style” anytime soon. Bottom line: that’s not my responsibility and overall I’m improving in this area! Thanks Michael for the way you connect with us Platformers!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your story, Brian.