Silencing the Haters

How to deal with haters

To the haters out there: Shhh…

“I could never do what you do.”

We were sitting in a coffee shop next door to my office when my friend said those words to me.

My friend is brilliant, funny, and an exceptional writer, but when I asked him what is stopping him from launching his own blog (something that he has talked about doing for months), that was his response.

He had more to say too:

“People are so cruel and judgmental. I don’t think that I have what it takes to put my writing out there for the world to rip apart and judge. There are so many haters out there.”

Sadly, he’s absolutely right. There are so many haters out there.

Some of you already know this, but it took me 3 long years to find the guts to publish my first ever blog post here on this site.

The reason for the ridiculously long delay, you might be wondering?

Fear of dealing with criticism from the haters.

Yep, that’s it. That fear almost stopped me from ever hitting “Publish” on my very first blog post.

Almost.

It took me a while to completely overcome this fear, but now with almost a year of blogging under my belt, I can say with 100% confidence that haters do not need to be feared.

They do need to be dealt with, though.

The problem is that when it comes to dealing with haters, most people give the same tired advice that you have probably heard before:

Ignore them.

Get a thicker skin.

Fight fire with fire.

There are definitely much better ways to silence the haters, so without further ado, let’s get on with the business of zipping their lips once and for all.

The Best Way To Deal With Haters

Believe me, you don’t have to be a blogger in order to deal with haters.

How many people reading this can relate to dealing with people in your lives who seemingly take great joy in pointing out your flaws, inadequacies, and imperfections?

Also, just to be clear–this post is not about constructive criticism. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. This post is solely about the destructive kind.

The destructive criticism could be about your parenting skills, your ability to do your job, how you dress, who you decided to date/marry, the house you live in, the car you drive, your positive attitude, your weight, your hair, the fact that you smile too much, your writing ability…the list could literally go on and on.

You might think that since I write about positivity, I must be immune from dealing with haters. Everyone loves positivity, right?

Well…

Here are some very real examples of the some the hate that I’ve had to deal with since launching The Positivity Solution:

Your blog is way too positive. This is a shitty world that we live in and you clearly live in a fantasy land that’s nothing like the real world. You need to quit being such a phony.

I can’t take you seriously as a “positivity blogger” because you use the words sh*t and a**hole in your blog posts. Stop pretending that you’re a positive person.

Your latest blog post made me feel angry/sad/guilty/(insert negative emotion here). You suck as a blogger and I’m done with you.

Ok, so who is really writing these blog posts? I know that it can’t be you. Every black person I know is practically illiterate and they’re definitely not into “positivity.” Quit lying to us asshole, we’re on to you.

There’s a lot more where those came from, but I’m sure that you get the point.

So, how do I deal with these special people?

It’s simple.

I do more of what they hate.

This one is pretty important, so I’ll say it again:

The best way to silence the haters is to do more of what they hate.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

A few years ago at work, I had a very motivated group of haters who loved to comment on how “phony” I was to anyone who would listen. To them, I was “too nice” and I “smiled too much” to be authentic and real, and apparently, my positive attitude annoyed the hell out of them.

Yes, seriously. You can’t make this stuff up.

Let’s be honest–what if I foolishly tried to make these people happy by smiling less and by switching up my style by mean-mugging everyone all day and treating people like crap? Would that make them “like me” more?

Of course not.

Changing up my style wouldn’t magically turn me into best friends with those people (not that I wanted to be friends with people like that anyway.)

So instead, I did the only logical thing.

I chose to smile more, I continued to be friendly as possible, and most importantly, I chose to be me, unapologetically. 

Interestingly enough, once they realized that their snide comments and immature hating had absolutely no effect on my behavior, the haters were effectively silenced and they moved on to another target who would give them the emotional reaction they craved.

Believe me, it’s very possible to rise above the hate, and if you’re dealing with haters, you can rise above it too by: 1) showing your haters that their words have no effect on you and 2) showing them that you’re happy with who you are by doing more of what they hate.

I know that at The Positivity Solution I won’t be able to please everyone.

For some people, I’m too positive.

For some people, I’m not positive enough.

For some people, dropping an occasional curse word means that I’m a negative person.

For some people, because I’m not dropping a steady stream of “F-bombs” from my keyboard onto this page, that means that I’m soft and “afraid to keep it real.”

This is all part of the gig–no matter where you go or what you choose to do, the critics will be waiting.

But given the choice to be the person who is critiquing the thing from the sidelines or doing the thing in the arena (shout out to Brené Brown!), I can always lean on the fact that I’m choosing to live each day courageously in the arena.

If you’re with me in the arena, then know this–no matter what you’re doing, it is impossible to make everyone happy.

Good thing that’s not my goal, and I hope that it’s not yours either.

As a guy who has spent the majority of my adult life being scared to show the world the “real me” for fear of being judged by the haters, those days are over.

Instead, I will keep giving you every last drop of the authentic Shola.

Every. Single. Day.

Like the late Kurt Cobain said, “I’d rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I am not.”

Hurt People Hurt People

“I hope that you get cancer and die.”

I remember reading the above comment directed toward the author of a very popular blog that I like to read, and at first, that comment shook me to my core.

Seriously, that’s an incredibly horrific thing to say to someone. What type of sick bastard would wish cancer upon another human being?

Reflecting back on it now, I completely get it.

Only someone who is severely hurting inside would ever take the time to type up something like that and then publish it on a website for the whole world to see.

Personally speaking, the comments that I shared earlier from my haters are actually the “PG-rated versions” of the comments that I’ve received over the past 10 months.

Some comments that I’ve received in the past are so ugly, mean, and cartoonishly evil that they just cannot be taken seriously.

For example, whenever I receive a racist email or blog comment loaded with “N-bombs,” I just hit the delete button and remember the wise words of one of my college professors:

Hurt people hurt people.

Here are two very real observations that I’ve made about haters, that I’m sure you’ll agree with:

1) I have never in my life seen a well-adjusted and happy person who purposely writes vicious, hate-filled emails/comments in an attempt to tear someone else down. Why? Because they’re too busy being well-adjusted and happy to waste their time being an insufferable jerk, that’s why.

2) I have never received a piece of vicious criticism from a person who is actually putting him/herself out there by creating anything meaningful. These jokers are experts at trying to destroy things behind the safety of a computer screen (no skill or talent is needed to do that), but they’re pretty much incapable of publicly building anything useful (lots of skill, talent, and guts are needed to do that).

I remind myself of both points whenever I deal with mean-spirited comments or mean-spirited behavior. You should too.

Simply put, people who choose to hurt others are the broken souls of the world who are deeply hurting themselves. 

If you’re dealing with people who seemingly find pleasure in directing destructive criticism your way–it could be a customer, your significant other, your boss/coworker, or even your mom–just remember this:

Their hate has nothing to do with how they feel about you, it’s a reflection about how they feel about themselves.

Focus on the VIPs

In the not-so-distant past, I used to focus so much of my time and energy on the people who didn’t “get” me or this blog.

For example, these were some of the common thoughts that would run through my mind on a frequent basis:

Ugh, there she is again! How come this woman only comments when she’s trying to find fault or pick a fight? Doesn’t she have anything better to do?

Wow, this woman thinks that I’m a fraud because I used the word “asshat” in one of my blog posts. Come on, really???

Why is this guy so annoyed that I keep posting upbeat and positive stuff on this page? Is he lost or something? He does realize that this blog is called The Positivity Solution, right? 

Man, that was such a useless waste of energy.

I spent so much time trying to chase those people down and get them to be happy with me and this blog, and at the same time, I wasn’t giving my fullest amount of energy and love to the people who really deserved it.

My focus needs to remain with the people who are my true believers, or in other words: my VIPs.

If you haven’t done so already, please take a moment to answer this critical, and potentially life-altering question: Who are the VIPs in your life? If you don’t know, then stop what you’re doing and check out this must-read blog post: The VIP Section.

Who are the people who “get you” and will always have your back, no matter what?

Trust me, those are the people who you need to focus your energy on.

There will always be haters on the sideline who think that you’re a terrible parent, a horrible coworker, you dress funny, and you rock a hideous hairstyle.

Believe it or not, that’s okay.

Who knows, maybe there’s something constructive in their comments, and if so, it would probably make sense to take action to do something about it.

But if the purpose of their criticism is just to be a destructive hyper-critical asshat, then it’s up to you to do the only sane thing:

Give them more of what they hate, which is coincidentally, more of what your VIPs love.

The days of giving the haters in our lives any more power and attention than they deserve, ends today.

As they say, haters are gonna hate regardless.

As for us, we’ll just keep on being us.

Whether they like it or not.

Your Turn

Do you have any haters in your life? If so, what technique do you use to deal with them? Jump into the comments below and make your voices heard!

Shola

Shola

Founder of The Positivity Solution
Corporate trainer, incurable optimist, and writer who is committed to changing the world by helping as many people as possible to live and work more positively.
Shola
Shola
Shola

Latest posts by Shola (see all)

Comments

  1. Thank you for this, Shola. Brilliant as always.

  2. WOW talk about perfect timing….I left a well-known mommy group because of the haters. It broke my heart at first but the longer I stayed away, the better I felt. Today I heard from a few friends how my name is still being dragged around in the muck. Ouch.

    I can’t say it didn’t hurt. And I’ve asked my friends kindly to not tell me what’s going on over there, and to not talk about me over there.

    Thank you so much for posting this today….it helped, really. Keep being awesome :)

    • Hey Crafty Angel! You are so right, it does hurt when people find it necessary to be mean and hateful for no good reason. I remember that my Mom would always tell me, “when people choose to talk behind your back, that’s exactly where you should leave them: behind your back.” As hard as it may be to do, I’d recommend a clean break from that particular mommy group (on a side note: from what I’ve heard, some mommy groups can be some of the meanest, judgmental people in the world), and don’t worry about if they’re continuing to be immature by dragging your name through the mud. Maybe this is a sign that you need to create your own mommy group! I know lots of positive and well-adjusted moms who would love to join. Best of luck, my friend!

  3. You know, I often find myself pondering “what happened to that person to make them so miserable?” I generally try to keep my distance from people who are just so incredibly unhappy, but that is not always possible. There is a woman at my office who is incredibly mean. She is always gossiping about people and she is very manipulative and seems to get joy from hurting people. It’s actually not very easy to stop from wondering “why doesn’t she like me?” “what’s wrong with me?” As a matter of fact, I get very upset with myself when I get home and realize that I let her affect me. But mostly, I just feel sorry for her. It must be awful to be so miserable. Whatever happened to make her that way must have been an awful thing. If I just remember that, it’s much easier to deal with.

    I still wonder what it is that makes some people so mean and hateful while others who have also had terrible things happen to them are so nice. It’s fascinating to think about it. I also think that a lot of comments are made by people b/c they are in the safety of their own homes, hidden behind their computer screens and no one will ever know and other than words, there will be no fight that may cause harm. It’s really too bad that people can’t just pick and choose what they want to look at online and just peacefully move away from what they don’t want to look at. Why is that so hard?

    Well Shola, another great post as always! I love thing that make me go “Hmmm?”

    :D

    • Kimen Petersen says:

      Wow!!! I have never been so inspired to pick up my pen again and finish my books!
      You have reminded me of who I am… Thank you

      I remember recently someone said ” come on Kimen, no one is that happy”, I just kept my mouth shut and continued to be the happy person I am today.
      At the same time I felt sad for this person who could not believe that abundant constant joy is a possibility.
      Keep up the good work!!! Each positive being causes a shift in the world!

      • Yes Kimen! Pick up that pen and start writing–don’t allow the haters to slow you down! Just like you, I’ve heard over and over again that I must be fake because I’m “too happy” (whatever that means). But when the haters come (and they will) just continue to be you by giving them more of what they hate. Thanks for being a positive shift in the world, my friend!

    • Spring, I absolutely LOVE how much of a deep thinker you are! Believe me, I have spent more time than I’m willing to admit trying to figure out exactly why some people choose to be so mean hateful, while others are so loving and kind. There are a ton of different factors (upbringing, emotional maturity, personality traits, etc), but one thing that I am certain about now is that when someone does choose to talk to me in a hateful manner, that says MUCH more about them than it does about me. Like they say: “hurt people hurt people.” I couldn’t agree more with what you said about behavior online. I have read blog posts that I didn’t like before, but I never thought of leaving a vicious comment or sending an hateful email–who needs that kind of drama? Instead, I just click off of the page and keep it moving. It’s a much easier way to live. Thanks for the comment, my friend! :)

  4. Mary Black says:

    This article is GREAT! A friend tagged me a FB post that was linked to this article because a week ago I posted about how people were telling me I was “too positive”. Only those that are negative think I’m too positive…if they only knew the real me. Thank you for this post and I must start following your blog!

    • Thanks Mary, I’m so glad to hear that you liked it! And please feel free to follow along, I would love to have you onboard!

  5. My mom always told me that the best way to deal with haters is to kill them with kindness. If you don’t give in to what they want, they get bored and move on. Great post, as always!

    “Keep in mind, hurting people often hurt other people as a result of their own pain. If somebody is rude and inconsiderate, you can almost be certain that they have some unresolved issues inside. They have some major problems, anger, resentment, or some heartache they are trying to cope with or overcome. The last thing they need is for you to make matters worse by responding angrily.” ~Joel Osteen

    • Hey Valisa! As usual, you hit the nail on the head. Once you don’t give the haters the emotional response that they crave, they get bored and move on. Thanks for another awesome quote!

  6. Haters don’t need a reason to hate. They’ll hate without a reason. I’ve lost far too much of my life responding to haters, defending myself and being miserable wondering what I did wrong. It’s not me that has the problem, it’s them. I have since started determining who I am and how I want to treat people. I treat people (as much as possible, cause I’m a work in progress) with the same acceptance, kindness and respect regardless of how they treat me. It’s a God thing. Who we are should not be dependent upon how others treat us. God causes the sun to shine upon, and blesses the good and the evil because His nature is LOVE. I try to do the same. It makes ME feel better to know that just because someone else is being an asshat doesn’t mean I have to be one too. Great blog post!

    • So true Becky, haters don’t need a reason to hate–that’s a lesson that I’ve learned the hard way. Just like you, I’ve wasted precious weeks, months, and years trying to figure out why haters hate, but getting into the dark recesses of their minds was not a fun journey for me. Most importantly, you said it best when you said that “just because someone else is being an asshat doesn’t mean that I have to be one too.” Well said!

  7. I’m with Spring. When I meet someone who is negative or spiteful, I tend to ask myself why. Misery loves company. I just try to stay positive and not get sucked into the negativity. The more I work at staying positive, the easier it is.

    Another awesome post, Shola. Thank you!!! ;) I am in training this week and had to wait until now… after 9pm my time… to finally read your post! It was hard to wait that long!

    Thank you, also, for always making my Monday something to look forward to. As positive as I am, I still struggle with the transition from weekend to workweek. Your blog has really eased that pain!!!

    • Thank you Kathy! It is an honor to help in anyway to ease the transition from week to week. I know that Mondays are usually the least favorite day of the week for most people, so I’m thrilled to hear that I’m making Mondays better for you :) I agree with you, these days when I see someone acting in a hateful way, I can’t help but to ask “I wonder why he/she is acting like that.” Usually, I don’t have an answer so I do everything that I can to distance myself from that energy. Thanks for reading, my friend!

  8. Giving haters more of what they hate is genius. I never thought about it that way before.

    My technique has always been to turn the mute button on their ass. I’ve literally had occasions where a hater would tell me precisely why one of my projects is stupid and I’ll just nod without actually listening, say “Okay” and then leave the conversation as quickly as possible.

    We are creating art and going against the grain so there will always be people who dislike what we’re doing. If someone isn’t pissed off then we’re probably doing something wrong.

    Good shit as always Shola.

    • Hey Kevin! Man, the “giving the haters more of what they hate” philosophy has been a life-changer for me. I used to be the dude who would change up his style to make the haters happy, and just ended up being even more miserable in the process. These days, I’m done with that shit. Like you said, we are creating art, and it will always be much easier to destroy art (haters) than it is to create it. Thanks for reading Kevin, and keep kicking ass with your art, my man!

  9. Awesome post Shola. You nailed it, as usual.

  10. Sabrina Rock says:

    The hardest people to love are the ones who need our love the most! You, dear Shola, are so easy to love!! Thanks for sharing that love and giving others the opportunity to receive it, nurture it, and multiply it.

    • Hey Sabrina! That is SO true–the hardest people to love are often the ones who need it the most. It’s just that sometimes, that love has to be given from a distance ;). Thank you so much for the kind words, my friend–you are too sweet! I promise that I’ll keep sharing the love for as long as I can :)

  11. My current method is that I have “teams.” The A-Team consists of people I know I can trust, that I can be honest and real with. They know my flaws and fears and foibles and they love me. The B-Team contains people whose company I generally enjoy, but I hold back in some areas (for example, they think being a spiritual person is weird, or they gossip a lot so they can’t be trusted with private information). I might genuinely like them and seek their company, but I know I’ve got to tailor what I talk about accordingly. The rest fall somewhere between “I might go for coffee with them if I’m in the mood” and “walk down another grocery aisle to avoid.” New people are automatically B-Team unless or until experience tells me they need to be moved.

    In case you’re wondering, I’ve been told I’m hard to get to know. :) But I’ve met too many wolves in sheep’s clothing (as it were) and women can be particularly vicious. I’ve spent too many years wasting energy on people whose sole purpose for interaction is to demonstrate their self-proclaimed superiority and who don’t care if they hurt or insult others in the process. Now I smile politely, wish them well, and walk on by.

    • Good stuff, Maria! Your “A-Team” and “B-Team” concept is similar to the VIP post that I wrote about a little while ago. I hear you about not wasting any more time on people who make a habit of hurting others. Like you said, wish them well and walk on by :)

  12. Shola, you are a deep, emotionally intelligent, beautiful soul!
    Your positive energy is a gift to the world!
    Keep it coming!

    • Liz my friend, you are so sweet to say that! I promise that I’ll keep the positivity coming as long as you promise to stick around, ok? Thanks for very nice comment, you just made my day :)

  13. Hey Shola! Ironically, I was unfriended (from social media and life, too, I guess) by someone arising out of a comment conversation when I shared this post on FB! “Too positive.” LOL Party on!

    • Party on indeed, Betsy! Like they say, “let the haters hate.” If being “too positive” is the issue, then by all means keep giving them more of what they hate!

Trackbacks

  1. […] some of us (myself included) are “too positive” and had a link to a blog post on how to Silence the Haters. I found the comments on the post interesting; some people saying that those of us that are […]