Critics, haters, naysayers. No matter what you call them, they’re always going to be there.
It’s a nice thought to believe you can do something great that all people will love and appreciate, but it just doesn’t work that way.
So, you need to learn how to handle your haters and critics. But not just handle them any old way, you need to do it in a way that is healthy for you and your career. Otherwise, you can literally lose your mind– and even your success– in the process.
There will always be people who will support us, and there will always be naysayers.
– Tyler Winklevoss
Here are three ways to handle naysayers, none of which use aggression or hate in response.
1. Make friendly with them
It tends to be our first inclination to want to set fire to our naysayers. After all, they’re not exactly nice to us.
However, perhaps the most effective method for handling naysayers isn’t to spite them at all but attempt to make friends– or, at the very least, acquaintances– with them.
And before you say, “that sounds nice, but it’s not realistic,” often times, it actually is.
In his guide-turned-book The Writer’s Journey, Christopher Vogler talks about an early critic of the guide (which, at the time, was referred to simply as the “Practical Guide”), which had become infamous with Hollywood movie execs and screenwriters.
The guide eventually attracted naysayers who wrote it off as promoting cookie-cutter storytelling, and a critic wrote a high-profile piece about it. Unfortunately, Vogler had just been invited to speak at UCLA, a talk which could now take a much different tone after the release of said article.
Instead of letting the critic bother him or pushing back aggressively, he invited the critic to join him for his talk:
He accepted and joined a panel discussion which turned into a lively and entertaining debate, illuminating corners of the story world that I had never glimpsed before. The seminar was better and my ideas were stronger for being challenged.
What had seemed like a lethal blow had turned into something useful and healthy.
2. Reflect on where the hate comes from
One of the most important things you can do to handle naysayers has nothing to do with how you deal with them on the outside and everything about how you react to them on the inside.
I’m not talking about lame advice like “don’t let it get to you.” That doesn’t work, period, although a million quote pics online will make it sound real pretty.
Instead, I want you to do a little exercise.
Think of someone who’s been hating on you recently. It could be an acquaintance at work, a comment on a video you posted, or a family member who told you you’d never be able to do what you’re planning.
Think of what might make that person say what they said to or about you. In almost every case, the other person is either jealous, bitter, or simply angry about their situation and wants someone to take it out on.
The trick is you don’t even need to know them or exactly what is making them behave in this way. You just need to brainstorm possibilities. When you do this, something cool happens: you start to develop compassion for the other person and, if anything, feel sorry for them.
However, more importantly, you no longer give as much importance to the comment because you know it doesn’t come from any real place of authority or truth, but some form of inner suffering.
3. Ignore them
This one might sound like the most basic suggestion out there, however, I include it because many people actually find it difficult not to look at the comments, articles, videos, etc.
They listen to the words of their naysayers out of either curiosity, the need to defend themselves because of pride, or simply the desire to know what other people think of them because of a lack of self-belief.
The problem is, this leeches mental energy away, energy that could otherwise be put towards more productive things.
If this is hard for you to do, take a minute to dive into some shitty comments or recall some recent criticism you received from someone and see how it completely throws you off your game. Remember how this feels and what it did to you. Etch it in your memory and you’ll never forget how wasteful bothering with haters really is.
I myself tend to ignore a lot of the comments on the work I create. I get a ton of positive comments frequently, however, it never fails that I’ll run into one asshole either through an email or on social media and get completely thrown off from what I was doing.
It doesn’t matter how strong you think you are, words can hurt and, while you might be able to pick yourself back up quickly, it still stings for a bit and makes it harder to get back into your flow.