“This is rubbish.”
That was how a comment from a reader began to a recent article I posted on AnnArbor.com. She then went on to cast aspersions on my business style, location, credentials, and, yes, even my wardrobe.
This is the payment you will sometimes have to make when you try to give back.
AnnArbor.com does not pay me to post articles on their site. A couple of years ago, a friend recommended me to one of the community editors at the time. That editor liked what she read of my material and gave me a shot at a regular spot. Do I gain benefit from this?
I have a regular column now. Every Sunday, people who read the Business Review section of the site get to see my smiling face. Is it advertising? Nope. Except maybe in the strictest interpretation. The final paragraph of each article is the “about the author” blurb which does give some of my credentials and links back to my website. Other than that, I do not hawk my services in any way.
If you are considering getting your name out there by writing or speaking. Be aware that there are people out there who will hate you no matter what you write or talk about. As my hero Scott Ginsberg would say, you’ve got to love the haters. They will tell you when you are on the right track. He should know. He writes about people being more approachable and friendly.
And some people still hate him.
The challenging part of this whole situation is your goal, in addition to recognition, is to engage your audience. You want people to comment on your posts or come up to talk with you after a presentation. If they are less than kind at times, the best way to respond (in my opinion) is to strip away all the vitriol and ad hominem attacks and address only the core issues they bring up.
They will probably never be satisfied, but your other readers and followers will see you as a classy person who rose above your attacker and make them that much more likely to want to connect with you.
One of my new heroes, Larry Winget, said in a presentation I attended, if you want rabid fans, you have to be willing to have rabid enemies.” So, just remember, when someone pulls out their poison pen on you, they’re just telling you that you are doing something right.
Photo by Diego Medrano
You answered her comment with amazing restraint and kindness and humor (the part about the white pants :)). That certainly taught me something, as I tend to dish stuff right back at people.
Having said that, it saddens me that something is so wrong in that commenter's life that she had to write such nasty comments to a stranger.
Really, folks like this just don't bother me much at all anymore. I've found if you treat them as if you were having an actual polite conversation, they will often respond in kind (or not at all). It's almost like they are surprised that there's an actual person on the other end of the article.
I've even had one grouchy reader apologize in the comments — shocking!
I guess I picked up some of my commenting self-defense from my training at Keith Hafner's Karate. We always tell the students in any sort of conflict situation, don't do anything that would make the situation worse. No matter how tempting it can be sometimes to lambast them with the same amount of gunpowder that they fired at us, it really doesn't solve the problem, so why expend the energy?
Thanks again for following my posts!