The second you head down the road less travelled, you’re likely to run into haters. Whether you’ve quit a job you hated, started a new business or increased your visibility on social media, people will always have something to say. But when your confidence is low and you’re already second-guessing yourself, battling the opinions of people who want to judge and criticise you can be tough. So, what should you do – take the high road and ignore the negativity, or hit back? Here’s how to deal with haters who judge your decisions.
How to deal with haters
What is a hater?
A hater is someone who seems to want to find fault in the things you do. Rather than applaud your wins or just stay silent, they find a way to turn even the most well-intentioned acts into something negative… and they aren’t afraid to let you and others know how they feel.
If you share your success, you’re a show-off. If you try something new, you’re naïve. If you do something spontaneous, you’re reckless… and so on. You could single-handedly build an orphanage in a war-torn country while rescuing trapped whales from an oil spill and they’ll find something negative to say.
Why do they seem so obsessed with you?
The good news about getting criticised by someone is that the judgement and criticism is never about you. We’ll repeat that again: it’s never about you.
Humans are fearful creatures by nature and studies have shown that people with low self-confidence are also riddled with insecurities. When we haven’t mastered how to deal with these fears and insecurities, we tend to project them onto other people. This is a key reason why haters just have to comment on what you’re doing. They see you doing things they secretly wish they could do, but have convinced themselves that they can’t, so they need to find the negative in your situation to make them feel better about their decision to not go for it too.
Another reason why haters can be so vocal about your actions is that they have an insecurity about their life situation that’s out of control. That insecurity has grown so big, they’re convinced everyone is judging them as harshly as they’re judging themselves. That’s why haters are quick to misrepresent your actions, and often seem irrationally committed to maintaining this misrepresentation even after you’ve explained the misunderstanding.
Phrases like “I know what you really meant” and “What you’re really saying is…” are classic examples of this behaviour in action. When faced with someone who’s criticising you based on what they assume you meant, rather than what you actually said or did, you’re dealing with an insecure hater.
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Why haters are so infuriating
The truth is that haters only bother you when their comments trigger an insecurity within you. Think about it. If you’re 5 ft 9 and have always felt too tall, you’re unlikely to get upset if someone calls you short. Why? Because there’s absolutely no doubt in your mind that you’re tall – the suggestion that you’re short is simply ridiculous to you.
But if you’re 5 ft 9 and missed out on becoming a fashion model because agencies insisted you were too short, you’re likely to feel the sting of any comment that implies you’re short – even if it comes from someone much shorter than you.
The same is true if you’re trying something new, but you’re convinced you have no idea what you’re doing. A hundred people can tell you you’re doing a great job, yet it’s the “She’s so desperate” comment that a friend of a friend made about you a month ago that will keep you tossing and turning at 2 am.
Why do such comments sting so much? You know the person making the comment doesn’t know you, yet you can’t stop thinking about it.
In most cases, the reason you care so much is that deep down, you believe the comment is true, and that reality is not acceptable to you.
So, what should you do?
How to deal with haters
Dealing with haters in a way that makes them go away and protects your energy is a three-fold process. It’s important to avoid escalating the situation – either in your head or in real life – as that can encourage the negativity you’re trying to avoid.
Step 1: Determine the type of hater you’re dealing with – there are four different types
- The hater who truly cares about you but doesn’t know who to express themselves tactfully. These tend to be family members or friends who usually act in your best interest. They don’t always get things right, but their intentions are pure.
- The know-it-all hater. Their comments are less about you and more about their desire to look wise and worldly. Their obsession with looking intelligent drives them to always give out unsolicited advice – whether it’s welcome or not. Take an objective look at their behaviour and you’ll find you’re not the only person they say nasty things about.
- The real hater. This person’s comments come from an insecure place. Something about you and your actions makes them feel bad about themselves, so they attack you because that’s easier than dealing with themselves.
- The troll. This person hates for entertainment. They live for the adrenaline rush created by being the source of drama. The bigger your reaction, the better.
Step 2: Address each comment based on the type of hater you’re dealing with
If a nasty comment or criticism has been made by the first type of hater (a caring person), it’s worth having a conversation with thT person. The aim of this is to identify their anxieties about your actions and explain why you’re doing what you’re doing. They care about you, so it’s important to reflect on their comments as there may be some truth in them that you can’t see because you’re too emotionally invested in the decision you’ve made.
If the comment has come from a know-it-all in your life, it’s best to set boundaries. You can’t change their tendency to have an opinion on everything, but you can make it clear that you don’t want unsolicited advice from them and limit their access to you in the situations that spark their unkind comments.
For example, if they make nasty comments about your new business venture, let them know that you don’t want to have conversations about your business with them or simply don’t discuss the venture when they’re around. If they have access to you online and leave negative comments on (or about) your business’ social media pages, block them.
Finally, if the comments come from a real hater or a troll, do not engage. Real haters come from an irrational place and you can’t reason with irrational thinking. Trying to do so will usually draw you into a draining argument or make you doubt your sanity. Trolls will intentionally say outrageous things to make you angry, so there’s also no point in trying to engage with or explain yourself to them.
Step 3: Work on yourself
As mentioned above, the comments of haters hurt because you consciously or subconsciously believe they’re true. That’s why the most effective way to deal with haters who judge you and your actions is to work on your own judgements about yourself.
The next time someone criticises you, don’t react. Instead pause and ask yourself “Why does this bother me?”.
Don’t just stop at “It’s rude and I don’t like rude people”, instead go deep. Explore the effect of the words, the past experiences they bring to mind and the deep-seated insecurities they trigger.
Once you’ve identified the real reason the comment is upsetting, ask yourself if the underlying belief is true. If it’s not, remind yourself of this (and give yourself examples of why it isn’t true) the next time a hater makes a comment that triggers this insecurity. You can also take a look at this article for tips on overcoming imposter syndrome.
If self-reflection reveals that the comment made by the hater is true and you don’t like this aspect of yourself, it’s time to do some self-improvement. Get started with this article on how to get over low confidence.
So, that’s how to deal with haters according to us, but over to you. How do you like to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments below.
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