This is part 12 in a series on why we are so afraid to be ourselves, how that fear keeps us broke and invisible – and how to stop that shit.
Previous installments can be read via the links below.
- Part one
- Part two
- Part three
- Part four
- Part five
- Part six
- Part seven
- Part eight
- Part nine
- Part ten
- Part eleven
The web isn’t magic, it’s merely efficient. – Seth Godin
I use the internet to run my business and, yes, I’ve made friends online. But there are pieces of this beast that I fucking hate, especially in terms of how it can make you feel about yourself, your business, and life in general.
As I type this, the United Stated is completely divided over its president. There are people who absolutely hate each other simply because of their political party affiliation or their candidate of choice.
The danger in getting sucked into the types of wars we see on the internet, especially on social media, is you can truly start behaving a certain way to either:
- keep people off your back
- try to convince everyone else they should agree with you.
If you’re learning to be yourself fully – not in a half-hearted way we all walk around as most of the time, but completely, totally you – this kind of shit can do irreparable damage to the hard work you’ve put in.
Don’t get sucked in.
The internet and social media are not your savior, even if they make earning money easier. They can’t keep you from having to do real-life tasks (like self-care or grocery shopping) that keep you moving ever upward. And the internet cannot replace the power of a true, face-to-face connection with a person.
So here’s my question for you:
If we know the connections we make with people online don’t actually have the same power as, say, meeting your online friends in real life, why do we crumble when some troll comes along and belittles us?
Why do we allow this space to be our magic bullet in terms of sales and sisterhood and simultaneously be our silver bullet (they kill werewolves) when it comes to people talking shit on us?
Haters seem to get sick satisfaction about of sharing word vomit about you and your business. As I have consistently grown in my business, I have seen my fair share of seriously warped, seriously shitty people who want nothing more than to watch my business burn to the ground.
Listen, I know I’m a controversial personality. I say what I want and don’t apologize for what can sometimes be off-putting. It’s the way I best communicate and how I like to show up in the world. I’m definitely not everyone’s shot of vodka.
Have I ever made an ass of myself and needed to back up and retract my statements? Yes. Totally.
You might think I have brass balls, but I’m still human, for fuck’s sake. I still make mistakes. I still fail.
If the people who were so eager to criticize me stuck around for a half-second longer, they’d probably see that and watch me rise again.
But that’s not what some people want to see, is it?
It’s win or lose, succeed or fail, stand on that pedestal or get dropped on your ass.
The key to being authentic is not only showing your success, but also showing your failures. For every successful person you see in the entrepreneurial world, pleas e know there are far more mistakes, mishaps and missed opportunities.
Gary Vaynerchuk, one of the most well-known forces in entrepreneurship, openly discusses all of his failures, and how short-sighted it is to see his success as happening overnight. It’s something we all dream can happen (overnight success) because we’re afraid to put in all of the time and work it takes to actually hit the big leagues.
But it’s truly incredibly dangerous to continue believing overnight success happens. Because THAT gives you a reason to play into your fears, cast doubt on whatever you’re doing in the moment, and raise the white flag before you’ve even put in enough time to make something work. (I’m not there yet. Therefore, I suck.)
Celebrate every moment in your entrepreneurial journey, even the bad decisions that involve drama. When you have a launch that doesn’t reach your earning goal, be thankful you can use what you’ve learned to make your next launch better.
The good and bad are equally important and you can’t get where you’d like to be without both.
Before I embraced this practice, I would hide away when things didn’t go as planned. I believed I needed to hibernate until things had smoothed over. Until I had come up with a new program or found the energy and reignited my voice.
What happened when I locked myself away and became invisible? Nothing good. It only made the haters believe what they’d said was accurate and made my followers wonder how I could abandon them when the ground was shaking.
But when I made the choice to talk about what was bothering me (whether it was a course that didn’t end up selling or an asshole who wanted to criticize me unfairly), I learned people will forgive you – and even appreciate you – for your missteps and transparency.
But they can’t do that if you hide.
This goes back to the abundance versus scarcity mentality. And the scarcity mindset is a breeding ground for people who want to bring your business down as a way to build up their own.
In an abundance mentality, we believe there is enough to go around for everyone. I’ve said it far too many times for this to be the first time you’ve heard it (if you know anything about me), but I don’t believe in competition.
According to a shit-ton of statistics websites, there are over 2 billion people worldwide using social media, a number you alone couldn’t help if you spent every second of every day working. Even if there are thousands upon thousands of entrepreneurs offering the exact same services as you, there are still more people who need to be served than there are those serving them.
With an abundance mentality, you can see there are plenty of opportunities for you to reach the audience who needs you, even with other people doing similar work. But do you want to work with everyone? Probably not.
There will be people who think they’re ready but will inevitably show they need to do additional internal work before seeking the type of help you can offer them. And there are people who will refuse to do any of the work. They think that by throwing money at their problem, the solution should automatically surface. They just want to work their pocketbooks, not their minds.
So, really, even with all of these billions of people available to work with, YOU aren’t going to want to work with them all until they’re ready.
That’s why being yourself is so important. Because plenty of people will love what you stand for and how you approach life, and there will be others who would work well with someone else.
Still, you aren’t competing with this person. Instead, you’re attempting to narrow down the clients you serve into people who will do well with your style of delivery.
Plenty of people, plenty of personalities, plenty of possibility for you to play nice.
So what do you do when someone else doesn’t want to play fair?
First, you chalk it up to a scarcity mentality. That means these poor people, whether other entrepreneurs or potential clients, believe there’s only a certain amount of success available and if someone else is achieving it, then they can’t.
So they try to bring the successful person down by hunting for – or even making up – flaws to share with their potential client base. Their inability to see that we can all prosper makes it impossible for them to get out of the negative space. And rather than look at their own unique abilities and positive personality traits, they get sucked into a world of why the fuck does this person have what I deserve?
For example, an Instagram post about how jacked a certain style of selling is will attract people who also believe that type of selling is shit. If you write something negative, you’re drawing in more negative. It becomes a vicious, awful cycle some people don’t even realize they’re in.
You’ll also find that the most positive, happy people – friends – ignore that shit. They know it’s not worth their energy to debunk someone else’s limitations and they want to hang out with the crew of others who feel the same way.
The problem is, the more validation someone receives for their negativity, the more this negativity festers and even magnifies.
This, my friends, is how internet trolls are born.
Though this concept wasn’t hard to learn, especially after burning my own shit down only to realize it was unnecessary, what became more difficult was how to handle the relentless haters.
My first step, though seemingly insincere, was learning to celebrate when these people showed up. Truthfully, it made me realize how far I’d come.
Whether you have faced this issue yet or not, know that it’s fairly common for any (and all) organizations to feel negativity online.
Here is how I handle Facebook (Twitter and Instagram) haters:
I used to shut down all shitbags immediately. They would comment, I would strike back, and then they’d be shut down by my LOLing at them. However, I learned that my audience didn’t like seeing me play this game and shutting down people who weren’t going to work with me anyway. It wasn’t effective.
Plus, if I’m being totally transparent (the point of this whole freaking blog series), my response to them was out of defense. It wasn’t centered around who I am or what I stand for, and it just wasn’t healthy.
Instead of feeling and grappling with what a normal person would when they are challenged, I was restricting both my ability to handle situations like this as a leader, and their ability to maybe – we can only hope – stop spewing their verbal garbage online by seeing it for what it truly was.
As I became more and more busy with clients who are working their way to the top, I also saw this happen in their businesses. Behind the scenes, I told them to tell haters to fuck off – and that’s fine, a coping mechanism that worked for both me and my clients. And we’d laugh them off and move forward.
But what skills did I teach them about coping when another nasty thing cropped up? How did I tell them this was actually a positive? I didn’t.
Now I handle these situations with care (and always recommend this to anyone when the opportunity presents itself):
Because, really, think about it. If you shut down their shitty behavior without acknowledging them – the human – you’re not really giving them what they want, are you? Instead, you’re trying to silence someone who already feels like they’re going unnoticed or are undeserving (lack mentality).
So what if, instead of feeling embarrassed or defensive when these people creep into your life, you see that holding space for them on your social media platforms actually somewhat eliminates the ripple effect?
If you cut them off or tell them to perform sexual acts on themselves, you’re actually adding fuel to a fire that could become much too large, much too quickly. When defamatory attacks come, I practice and recommend cautiously moving forward. Because the space they are invading can actually be the only space they come to, if you play your cards right, instead of seeking out – or even creating – another outlet for them to round up other unhappy people who can blame you for their unhappiness.
When someone is so upset they won’t stop, it’s best to either turn off the conversation on the thread (after giving them information on how to contact you directly) or turn the thread into a private conversation.
While that’s a necessary conversation to have because it WILL happen to you, it’s a total buzzkill. The thought of this happening for no apparent reason at all is infuriating, unfair, and blah-de-blah, but it’s part of life and part of the life you’ve chosen for yourself as an entrepreneur. So it’s unavoidable.
I only bring it up to better equip you with tools on how to navigate a circumstance that can very much leave you feeling as if you don’t have a clue how you got there or what you did wrong. Second guessing your intentions or abilities can totally unhinge your progress.
Know most of these people aren’t malicious. The situations that arise aren’t life-or-death, and you can come out on top even when haters show up. Plus, I got to finally decide if they were worth all of my energy or if the things I loved deserved most of it.
Easy answer? I think so.
I used to fear the critic.
Now I embrace them. Actually celebrate the haters. It means you’ve made it further than you thought you would. If nobody hates you, nobody will love you.
Being apathetic toward an online personality should be considered the biggest insult, because you don’t agree or disagree with them. You just don’t care.
Most people will tell you the best reason to ignore bullies is because they aren’t worth the energy or argument, but I disagree. I genuinely believe respectably engaging with them by acknowledging their views via a conversation brings with it the ability to earn respect.
The best move is to be the bigger person, to ask someone why they believe whatever they believe. When you ask these people what you can do to change their perspective, the answers are worth the sometimes-exhausting conversation.
Through these hard lessons, I also learned to differentiate between loons and the true voices of those I needed to listen to: the critics.
The critics are worth their weight in energy you put into them and are much less hostile. If used appropriately, critics can provide you with legitimate, solid, constructive feedback.
But the real fuckwads can be handled in a few different ways on Facebook.
- Set limitations on what can be posted to your page. You can go so far as to suspend all visitors from being allowed to comment or you can add a task to your daily list (or for your VA) that asks them to moderate what is approved before it is published.
- Hide the comments of those who are snarky, but not totally slimy. This leaves the comment visible to them and their friends, but it hides the comment from anyone who isn’t connected to them – and from you. (You don’t need to see it.)
- Delete the disgusting, offensive, overtly bigoted comments. It’s your page and your right.
- Ban repetitious, belligerent blowholes. This should be reserved for someone who constantly trolls you and/or always brings negativity to your threads. This person never plays nice (ever). The first step here is to hide their comment so the ‘ban’ option is displayed. This option also works for banning specific words or phrases on your page (check out the settings).
- Report abusive and bullying behavior to get Facebook to step in. If the commentary is offensive enough, the person in question may have their account entirely suspended or deleted.
Let me be clear: I don’t think you should just go about blocking people for asking questions or disagreeing with you. There is a clear difference between a bully and a critic. And critics can actually bring about great changes in your business, if you’re in need of some introspection and perspective.
What I do want to say is that firing shots back at someone else’s negativity reflects poorly on you, even if that is not your intention. In terms of your brand, you can absolutely fuel a lot of unnecessary conversation instead of doing what you really want, which is to try and diffuse the situation.
The only time you should actually send back criticism or insults is if you’ve carefully considered what your words will do to your image and you’re okay with that. But before you can be okay with that, you have to do the internal work and – likely – need some damn space to clear your head.
Do not take anything said personally.
Know that this person does not know your heart, your mind, or even your intention, without asking. Yes, you may respond truthfully and they might still think you’re a piece of crap. It’s not your responsibility to try to convince them otherwise. But you should stand confident in your intentions and realize personal insults have nothing to do with professional conversations (even if someone trying to throw out a low blow).
Set some damn boundaries.
If this person becomes problematic over and over again, you need to set boundaries so you can distance yourself from this person. If they’re in your personal life, re-route yourself so don’t cross paths.
Determine how much you’re willing to handle and cut them off once you’ve reached your limit. Then ask them questions about their approach to communicating with you. How can you help make the conversation more positive?
Hell, by doing this you might just force them to see there are other approaches they could use, including kindness.
- Try to empathize with someone going through a struggle by relating it to your own life.
- Offer alternatives to their decisions so they realize they still have a choice. This is especially potent for people who are jealous because they feel they can’t have what you have, maybe even because of a personal, recent experience.
Having tactics and tools available to use when this situation pops up isn’t about manipulating the situation to your benefit, at least not in my eyes. It is about making sure you stay true to the person you want to be.
Yes, we all make mistakes and grow through them, but you don’t want to your business to fall flat when you start swinging at someone else.
Do what you feel is best. Know you have options. And keep your company at the forefront of thought when making this decision.
Up next: Liberation.