How to Handle the Haters and Learn from the Naysayers
Don’t feed the trolls. Haters gonna hate. Forget the naysayers.
These are all terms used to combat the annoyances and bruised feelings you may experience when mean people set their sights on you. Or, more specifically: when you receive downright VICIOUS feedback on your work (whether from blog or social media feedback or in face-to-face conversations). I’ve got a few more tips for you, though. Consult these pointers when you’re targeted by someone who’s feeding into your bad day!
Stand up for yourself but resist the urge to resort to their level.
You know who retaliates with name-calling and insults? Grade schoolers.
There’s a difference between standing up for yourself and viciously going after the person who’s wronged you. Did someone call you an incompetent hack and insult your entire writing staff? It’s probably unwise to retaliate with similar insults. In an online setting, negative readers are only fueled by more negativity and they won’t miss a chance to attack you as long as you’ll allow it. The same goes for face-to-face or phone convos. If the issue in question is an addressable one, then rationally explain your reasoning and politely bow out of the conversation. Be the better person.
Personal example: I once had someone tell me that my blog posts are rubbish and that I should just stop writing. (There were a few more insults in there, but I’ve since blocked them from my memory). My response? I believe I said something along the lines of “I’m sorry you feel that way. It’s a shame that you have to result to name-calling in order to get your point across. I’m actually quite proud of my blogs, so feel free to sever any ties you may have with me if you can’t stand to read them.” I did receive one weak, forced “I didn’t mean to offend you” type of reply after that, which I ultimately decided to ignore (in what world would that NOT be offensive?) and I haven’t heard from that person since. Good riddance; I’ll never stop doing what I love no matter who has an issue with it.
Fume in private and then brush it off.
Fire doesn't work very well as an extinguisher...
Whatever you do, avoid revenge schemes. Just as it would be counterproductive to fight fire with fire, it’s a bad idea to burn naysayers — whether in a public forum like the internet or otherwise. Did you vent your anger by composing a doozy of a tangent? Think long and hard before you hit the publish button or confront the offender in a public setting. Ranting is healthy, but libel or slander are no fun for anyone. No hater is worth your sanity — let alone your job — so sometimes it’s better to just let it go. Fume when you’re alone and then stop thinking about it altogether after you calmly address the problem. To quote one of my all-time favorite films, It’s a Wonderful Life, think of your naysayer’s feedback as the notoriously heartless Mr. Potter and say: “in the grand scheme of things, I’d say you’re nothing but a scurvy little spider.” (And what do you do with a spider that’s causing you trouble? You guessed it. Squash your trouble in one fell swoop).
Evaluate the experience. Is there anything worth improving for next time?
Is there room for improvement?
All is not lost! You can actually learn from the less-than-savory comments or feedback you receive. As much as it may pain you to do it, try to empathize with the naysayer. Why do you think they said what they did? Is there any truth to their feedback? Pull out any details from their criticism that may be relevant to your job. There’s something to learn from every Negative Nelly, even if you don’t have any luck empathizing with them. Worst-case scenario, you’ll be better prepared to handle personal attacks in the future.
Don’t let haters get you down too much. Even Fortune 500 companies’ employees receive biting criticism, and seasoned blogging/social media veterans still get flack every now and then! The key is to keep doing your job well and don’t let anyone sway you from your goals — negativity or not. Always keep your cool (while addressing issues as best you can) and you’ll make it out alive!
Do you have any more tips for handling naysayers, either in public or online? Have you had similar experiences? Share your thoughts in the comments!