Well it happened. I got my first hater.
This is something I secretly dreaded ever since I got online back in 2000.
Looking back now on things I struggled with and how I held myself back — it was all because I was actually afraid of standing out.
Screwy right? I mean, how else are you going to get clients if you don’t stand out?
I was a big fish in a small pond back in my corporate life. Standing out wasn’t something I even thought about. I worked hard. I always held very visible positions in human resources and in marketing.
But that was different. It wasn’t really “me” who was standing out. At least I didn’t see it as me standing out.
I saw it as doing my job to help the whole company move forward.
I was an important team member, but a team member nonetheless.
Then I was out on my own and instead of being a team member I was afraid of being seen as some pushy, salesy…word that rhymes with “itch”.
So when this person messaged me on Facebook with her long message about how she was sick and tired of me I was shocked.
It happened before the end of the year and I can honestly say it was one of the best things that happened to me.
So here are 10 lessons I learned while dealing with my first hater and some tips to help you deal with yours.
- Give yourself time before you respond. I know some people will say “ignore them” but this particular hater is someone who I actually see quite a bit. We’re in several online groups together and I see her pretty regularly at live events so I felt compelled to respond in some way. It took me about 36 hours to respond to her. That time helped me to get past the anger and hurt I felt as a result of what she said so I could respond in a professional manner. I think this is important because haters are looking for anything you do that will validate their hateful thoughts and behavior. Don’t give them that fuel. And if you want to ignore yours go right ahead. Most haters don’t deserve a response.
- Ask yourself which button got pushed and why you reacted emotionally. This is a tough one but if you don’t recognize this you’ll be a pawn of future haters. A former coworker used to say that even broken clocks are right twice a day. Think about what could have possibly led this person to think the thoughts she shared. Could there have been any glimmer of truth in what she said? Usually when something provokes an emotional response it’s because there’s a wound there or you have a fear associated with something. For example, if someone accused you of careless work and you take great pride in delivering work that’s perfect you’re likely to get defensive and emotional because being careless is something you dread being accused of. This takes really detaching from the emotions and recognizing she’s got her own issues that likely have nothing to do with you.
- Don’t be afraid to disconnect from them. If you’re connected to them on social media like LinkedIn or Facebook you can disconnect from them very easily. Yes, there’s a way they can find out if you disconnected from them but do you really care? It’s probably unlikely you’re going to run into them at the grocery store, and unlikely the actively search their contacts for you.
- Invite them to disconnect from you. If they’re on your newsletter list encourage them to unsubscribe since there doesn’t seem to be a fit between them and your message anymore. If you can’t bring yourself to delete them from your connections on social media encourage them to disconnect from you. But let them know – in a very polite way – that you’re not interested in hearing from them again. Please take this the right way. I’m not talking about cutting off people with genuine concerns or complaints about your service. But life is too short to let mean people take up space in your head.
- Focus on those who want your message and are ready to receive it. I know you have a big heart and you want to help everyone who needs your services but to be honest with you, only people who are ready to receive your message are going to benefit from it. So get your message out there stronger and bolder than ever and make it laser focused on preaching to the choir not trying to convert those who aren’t interested in changing.
- Realize this won’t be the last hater you get. It may be best for you to have an assistant take over the bulk of reviewing your mail and messages so they can delete what’s trash, act on what they need to, and pass on only what you truly need to see. Like I said earlier, haters and complaining customers are different groups. Reading hate mail isn’t on your “most need to do” list.
- It’s not what they say that hurts it’s how you think about it. Thoughts might pop in your head but you don’t have to let them stay. You don’t have to dwell on them. Save all the nice emails people send you and the nice messages. Think about them instead of the crap haters toss your way.
- Getting hated on isn’t as bad as you think it’s going to be. I think the problem is our elephant-like memories. We remember how much it hurt when someone we loved or cared about said something that hurt us. Or that time at work when we did our best and some doofus made a snide comment about the project we delivered. Or you’re over-reacting thinking “everyone” thinks that about you. In reality, that’s the only person who does.
- People want to make themselves feel good and sometimes that means hurting you. Feel sorry for them and say a little prayer that they’ll find happiness and fulfillment in some other way. At the end of her very long message she admitted that “maybe I’m a little jealous.”
- You must be doing something right. You only become a target when you stand out. So clarify your message. Where a fabulous outfit. Polish up your website and social media profiles. When you start to shine brightly you’ll attract so many fans the haters won’t be able to reach you.
Taylor Swift says it best, “haters gonna hate”. Take the hate as a sign your voice is getting louder and your message is getting stronger. Celebrate that; don’t let a hater keep you from serving those you’re meant to serve or from sharing the gifts you were blessed with.