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How to Deal with Haters and Trolls {Episode 21}

business mindset Aug 10, 2023
woman with head on computer

If you're building an online business, it's only a matter of time before you get a nasty comment. It's not fun, but it also doesn't have to be devastating. Today we'll discuss who these people are, what their cruel comments mean about you and your business and how to manage your mind around them.

Becoming a Christian entrepreneur means maintaining Christlike discipleship and integrity at all times, not just when people are being nice to us. Let's learn how to deal with hate together!


What is a hater or a troll? Someone who purposely attacks online personalities and abuses or teases, mocks or scorns them. They also openly disagree with others but not in a kind manner. When you first show up online, this can be disturbing; your first mean comment will probably cut deep. So today we're gonna figure out how to think about these people and what to do when you inevitably get noticed by people who don't like you and decide to say so publicly. Who haters ARE: children of god, often hurting, human beings. And while cruelty is never ok, it can be helpful to remember that the person being cruel is also a person. This helps me not lash back out.

Christ taught us to turn the other cheek and nowhere is this more necessary than within hateful online dialogue. It's hard, I get it! Who haters are NOT: a representation of who you are or how your business is going, they're not a paying client or a customer (more on this later). They are (almost always) irrelevant to your business. Let's talk about your emotions when a hater says something mean. Sometimes these insults can reflect your own mean girl thoughts and feelings about yourself. When those words hurt, ask yourself what am i making this mean? What comes up for me? is there any truth to this? So what?

Confronting a hater is an opportunity to do massive amounts of thought work and to dive into the thoughts that cause you pain when you hear these words. Author Jon Acuff:

“Criticism that costs nothing is worth nothing. That’s something my wife Jenny says to me often. It means if it costs someone 30 seconds to leave a mean comment online, it’s only with 30 seconds of my time. If a close friend had to be brave to tell me something hard that I needed to hear, that cost them a lot and is worth a lot to me.Don’t give an hour of your day to a hater’s comment that only cost them 30 seconds to leave." Acknowledge that these people spend time tearing you down instead of building their own thing and that they probably feel threatened. You don't need to give them any attention.

The journalist Lindy West confronted a troll who impersonated her dead father on Twitter. He eventually reached out to apologize then she interviewed him. He hated her because she didn't hate herself. Read that article here.

I learned a lot about people who show up hatefully on the interent; this was a poignant example of first seeking to understand before being understood. Why are haters a thing? Because the internet is so anonymous. You can hate something and instead of limiting that hate to your own brain or your local friends, you can share it with the world. Haters also (largely) avoid the negative fallout of calling someone names without seeing the person crumble, witnessing their tears, etc. It's a scary thing to have the power to put hate out into the world with little consequence. Be careful who you label as a hater or a troll; sometimes text comments come across a lot more brusque than intended. If a comment rankles you, you can first choose to think, what if they didn't mean offense? I've made friends this way by asking for clarification and seeing to understand. For those who really do mean to stir up hate: beware of drawing attention to a troll's comment. they WANT to stir the pot and get attention; they want to anger or provoke you. If you're seen as an expert or teacher in your field (or just an easy target) they would love nothing more than to see you get uncomfortable or have a reaction.

You don't have to be stoic but don't give them extra attention! I hate it when influencers repost a troll's comment, they do that generally to get validation and to feel better but they're stoking the fire. Quietly ignore or delete the comment, but ensure that it's truly a troll comment and not just one you disagree with. Mean comments belong in 3 main camps:

1. name calling or tearing you down (fat, ugly, fraud, name calling), safely delete and ignore these, they are completely useless. 2. comments from those who are feeling badly about themselves or don't believe your success or your point of view. These might come across as a troll but these are an important learning opportunity to show people that faith/coaching is required for this transformation.
I've experienced multiple times - from the friend who hated that I'd joined an MLM to the family member that expressed sincere doubt about the viability of my latest business idea. These we can learn from and can offer them some of our belief so they can believe in themselves. Maybe they're simply doubters rather than haters.
3. These are from those with real legitimate feedback or who just disagree with you. Open up to this and start real dialogue to understand first and broaden your horizons and grow. I'm grateful for the times I've put aside my pride to stop and listen to those who vehemently oppose me. I've learned a lot! Warning: There is a difference between paying clients and haters. A digruntled or unhappy customer needs to be addressed. This happens sometimes in the online sphere, especially for those with large, loyal audiences.
Throwing a paying customer under the bus (especially publicly) because you don't like their feedback is immature, catty and really bad business practice.
If they bring negative feedback, don't treat them like a hater. Listen, lean in, get uncomfortable even if you disagree - work to make it right, as much as possible. Ask yourself what your integrity and honesty is worth. It's likely worth whatever refund the customer asks for. Be willing to learn a hard lesson: "the customer is always right" isn't literally true but it does mean that if you want a successful business, you have to act as if it is true! Haters can be a great way to remind yourself that you're doing something good. This never comes without opposition, and it can also be a chance to manage your own mind and emotions. The quicker you can get to a place of peace with the discomfort that comes from failure, embarrassment and criticism, the quicker you'll find business success!


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