Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
December 30, 2011 3:31 PM

How To Deal With The Haters

I have no idea how to interact with the haters.

I spent over a decade in the music industry reviewing artists for weekly and monthly magazines and newspapers. In all of that time, I rarely reviewed artists I didn't like or albums I didn't like from artists that I did like. Why? One, with the limited space that print offered, I preferred to use that space to talk about something that I thought the readers might enjoy spending their money on (something positive). Two, if something was so bad (at least, according to me), why even bother giving it any coverage or attention? I realize that some people may want to know why something didn't work for me or why I thought something wasn't worth the time or listen, but I guess I was subscribing to the old adage, "if you have nothing nice to say don't say anything at all."

Big time wuss.

I've been very public about the fact that I have very thin skin (and yes, I realize this isn't a great attribution... I'm working on it). I have one simple and decisive way of dealing with the haters: no public attention or validation. I do not follow them, link to them, help them or anything else. But, here's the biggest trick: they would never know it. I will still follow them in the online spaces, act cordial to them when confronted, but I then filter them out on my end (through the creation of lists or blocking). It's my own, private way, of removing as much negativism as I can in my life without making another human being feel like they are being ignored.

It works for me.

I often Blog about my combatives training with Tony Blauer. Many people still misinterpret this training as being extremely physical. When you begin dissecting the dynamics of a confrontation, you learn that ninety-percent of a confrontation is psychological and you hope that it doesn't lean towards that other ten percent - which is the physical. The training is all about the ninety-percent and being as prepared as one can be for the ten percent. My net learning from the years of training and coaching I took part in was that it's very hard to have a confrontation (pre-physical) unless both parties take part (I am not talking about being attacked or ambushed). Think about the prototypical fight you see in a bar: one person shoves another, the other person postures back, there's finger pointing and words exchanged... and we all know where this leads. The situation can (sometimes) be defused by simply not taking part in the antagonist's "story"... by leading the antagonist to feel that it's simply not worth it or that they have already won the fight. In some instances, this means acting submissive or by creating a pattern interrupt that changes their preconceived notions of how the incident would play out. In other instances, it's about creating a scenario where if the antagonist persists, they will be either feel vindicated, embarrassed or feel the shame of the people around them (we see this a lot in movies). Yes, every instance is different and yes, there are many exceptions to every circumstance, but it's a way of creating a scenario where the antagonist still feels vindicated while you can simply move on with your life.

People who have a bone to pick.

What is important to know about these haters is that is goes well beyond a personal feeling that they have to get their opinions expressed, heard and even have a sense of being "right." In watching a lot of the online discourse, you quickly learn that many of the more passionate haters (also known as trolls or as Christopher S. Penn calls them, "ankle-biters") feel like they are actually attempting to right a wrong in the world. When an individual takes something on like this, it's going to be challenging (actually, nearly impossible) to have true discourse. Many people will tell you that you simply ignore them... it's just not that easy. So, while ignoring is optimal, sometimes you have to let them think that they have your ear, when what you're really doing is acknowledging who and what they are and compartmentalizing them into the back bottom drawer of your life. And, with that, you give it no attention: no links, no love, no comments, no feedback, no input. To them, they still feel heard and important. To you, their activities are acknowledged and put on your black list. Ultimately, it is - somewhat of a compliment - to even be in a position where individuals care enough to have a hate-on for you.

How do you deal with the haters? 

By Mitch Joel