Haters. They come in all shapes and sizes, with vocabularies that range from the grunting of cave-dwellers to the bombastic spewing of wanna-be intelligentsia’s.
No matter what form they take, dealing with them can be frustrating and demoralizing. And no matter what you do, what you create, or where you work, they are out there.
5 Bulletproof Ways to Deal With Haters
There’s no way to avoid them, so the best thing to do is be prepared to deal with haters. Luckily, there’s plenty of ways to help you do this for anybody who’s struggling. It’s easy to let haters get to you…
Here are five steps that will help you become completely bulletproof to haters:
1. Determine if the Person Really is a ‘Hater’
Repeat after me: Not everyone who disagrees with you is a hater. To properly deal with a hater, you first need to know whether someone is actually a hater or whether they are simply disagreeing with you.
Perceiving every uncomfortable comment as ‘hate’ makes for a miserable existence, especially if you’re trying to share something online. Being overly sensitive to feedback and criticism will also prevent you from ever improving yourself or your work.
People who challenge your thinking, who engage in debate, who recommend improvements to your content, or who offer an opposing point of view are often friends in disguise (even if they are a bit abrasive).
These people can help you expand, improve, and hone your ideas or your art. The ideas and discussions they generate can be even more useful to you than the approval and compliments of your dedicated fans.
Haters, on the other hand, offer you nothing of value. They don’t give suggestions, nor do they explain their opinion in any useful way. They aren’t interested in conversation, engagement, or discussion. That is the key difference between a hater and a critic.
Comments like “You are a complete waste of space” or “Yeah, this is total crap,” or “How cute, you’re pretending that you have something to say!” are completely unhelpful. But if the comment is useless or is only meant to make you feel bad, than you can be fairly certain that you are dealing with a hater.
When you come across a harsh comment, try to look at it objectively.
Ask yourself if there is something in there that you could learn from, or a new viewpoint you could consider. Don’t be swayed by verbosity or cutesy emoticons. Some haters disguise themselves with huge words, long-winded rants, or smiley emoticons.
Focus on an objective evaluation of the actual meaning of their comment or statement. If it contains nothing but bile, or if the person refuses to engage in any kind of productive discussion with you, then you know you are dealing with a hater.
2. Remind Yourself that Haters Are Not Your Target Audience
When you put yourself out there, you will be seen by your target audience, your expanded audience, and people who aren’t part of your audience at all.
Your job is not to appeal to everyone, or even to most people. it’s to appeal to those who are (or might be) interested in what you have to share. That is your audience.
Haters never were and will never be part of your target or expanded audience, because they aren’t interested in seeing or even considering your work or ideas. When members of your audience dislike something you put out, they’ll engage in more meaningful criticism or disagreement.
These are the people you should pay attention to and make improvements for. Haters, on the other hand, only provide useless, pointless snark. Don’t try to appeal to them, because you’ll never be able to.
3. Give the Hater a Hearty Mental Send-off
It’s impossible to pretend that haters or their comments don’t exist.
Their comments scream out to us, drawing our attention like a moth to a flame. No amount of covering your ears and saying “la la la, I can’t hear you!” will make them disappear. And trying to do so takes a huge amount of emotional energy and willpower.
A better tactic is to let yourself feel that momentary blaze of anger, then square your shoulders, look directly at the hater or their comment, and give them a strong and simple mental send-off.
Don’t overthink this send-off – it shouldn’t be a long rebuttal or elaborate come-back.
Keep it simple: a firmly extended middle finger or hearty “well f*@% you too” (done physically and out loud if you are at the computer or mentally if you are dealing with someone in person) treats a hater’s comments with the degree of eloquence and attention they deserve.
If you aren’t a fan of cussing, whatever simple mental send-off you prefer. What you do doesn’t matter, as long as the send-off is simple and firm.
Standing or sitting upright, squaring your shoulders, and confronting the person or comment by looking at it directly gives you a little hit of testosterone. Which will boost your feeling of power and confidence.
The send-off itself gives you an emotional release. This combination will help you push aside the hater and move on with a bit more ease. This process might feel hollow or insincere at first, but keep using it – as with most things, you’ll improve with practice.
And a very important thing to note: once you’ve given the hater a mental send-off, don’t pay any more attention to them. Don’t return or re-read their comments and don’t give them any more of your time.
4. Immediately Move on to the Next Comment or Productive Activity
Switching your focus to something positive or productive helps you avoid wallowing in your own anger or misery.
Once you’ve given your hater a mental send-off, redirect your attention to other comments, other questions, or other follow-up activities. Our brains have evolved to pay attention to negative input, a phenomenon known as negativity bias.
It’s important that you pull your attention away from the negative stimulus quickly, as forward momentum becomes more difficult the longer your pity-party goes on for.
But trying to ‘move on’ by just telling yourself to ignore a hater isn’t enough – you need to take positive action. What you want is a rush of dopamine, which is exactly what you’ll get by doing something positive or productive.
Responding to helpful comments, engaging with someone genuinely interested in discussion, or applying someone’s recommendations will give you a hit of dopamine, which helps you to overcome self-doubt or procrastination (dopamine-reducing feelings that can be brought on by a hater’s negativity).
Get a bit of dopamine flowing, and you’ll be able to bask in the glow of accomplishment or feel the excitement of growth and development.
5. Put Yourself out there Again… and Again… and Again
A big part of effectively dealing with haters is being willing to continue sharing your ideas, your content, or your art regardless what the haters say.
Building up a body of work and putting it out there helps you develop a thicker skin and more resilience to any nastiness you inevitably encounter. The more you share with others, the lower the stakes will be on any one piece of work.
This helps spread around the risk of rejection; if one of your posts or videos attracts a disproportionate amount of hate, so what?
Those three other posts or videos you put out earlier attracted some attention and some great comments, and you are fixing that weird lighting and backdrop in your next video.
A couple of nasty comments on one post means a lot less when you have 200 other posts out there for people to read.
Continuing to create and share also dissuades haters from repeatedly coming at you. They lose interest in their attempts at bullying when you continue to share your work and ideas despite their comments.
Trying to tear down a persistent optimist is dull work, and nothing demonstrates how few craps someone gives about a hater than the fact that they continue to share their ideas.
Here’s a short recap on the 5 bulletproof ways to deal with haters:
- Determine if the person really is a ‘hater’
- Remind yourself that haters are not your target audience
- Give the hater a hearty mental send-off
- Immediately move on to the next comment or productive activity
- Put yourself out there again… and again… and again
These steps work best when done together, in order. It doesn’t take long, and regular practice and repetition are key. Over time, you will build up resilience to haters and never let their garbage distract you from your work.