Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

There Will Be Haters

I talk a lot on this blog about earning trust and communicating with intention. But what happens when you begin attracting an audience? Then the real work begins. You have to keep people’s attention. Which wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for one small issue: There will be haters.

Troll Photo

Photo credit: Benny Mazur (Creative Commons)

These people will want to knock you down and boo you off stage. They’ll criticize and slander you, and there’s nothing you can do about it. If you’re not careful, these people can really get to you.

“Dear Anonymous…”

My friend, Chad, leads music for a church. Every Monday, he receives a note on his desk from “Anonymous.” This person tells him what a terrible job he did the day before and that he should quit.

Chad recently wrote a letter on his blog entitled, “Dear Anonymous.” In it, he asked the person publicly if the two of them could get together and talk it out. As far as I know, the person hasn’t responded yet.

The other week, I received an email from a reader who told me I was getting arrogant with my writing. I take this kind of thing seriously. I emailed and called a few friends, asking for feedback. (I’ve built my platform on challenging people, but the last thing I want is to sound like a jerk.)

I replied to the person, thanking them and asking for specific examples. When I led a creative team for four years, one thing I learned was this: Feedback is always a gift, and you should look for truth in criticism.

Unfortunately, I didn’t hear back. That disappointed me. There is an important principle at work here.

The difference between criticism & hate

We should always look for ways in which critics can help us grow. We should always humble ourselves and listen to voices of disagreement.

But (and this is important) if someone only wants to criticize and isn’t willing to engage in dialogue, that person is not a critic. They’re a hater. And there is a fine line between being a helpful voice of correction and a troll.

I’ve found that as your influence grows, some people will want to flame you, no matter what. Not for any evident or rational reason.

“Some men just want to watch the world burn,” Alfred tells Batman. Your job, sometimes, is to not let them.

How to respond to criticism

What do you do when you encounter these people? Well, first you hear them out. You don’t ever want to have the reputation of being unapproachable when it comes to feedback.

But then you have a choice to make. You can do one, and only one, of the following:

You can obsess over the criticism. Worry. Pander. Try to please everyone, all the while watering down the quality and integrity of what you do.

Or you can get on with the work. Do what you were made to do. Pursue passion, not approval. And pay the necessary consequences to doing work that matters.

The reality is this: You are not in this creativity business to make everybody happy. That’s impossible. What you’re called to do is say something worth disagreeing with, to change the world — in some small way — with your words. If you’re doing that, you’re on the right track.

So go say something awesome, something worthy of criticism. And if it does get flamed, thank God someone’s listening.

What’s the last thing you said that was worth criticizing? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I help people tell better stories and make a difference in the world. My family and I live outside of Nashville, TN. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus. To get updates and free stuff, join my newsletter.

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  • http://deuceology.wordpress.com Larry Carter

    Evidently I haven’t built an audience big enough for there to be a hater yet.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       It may just not be time, Larry. In my experience, these things never happen when you want, but always when you’re ready for them — whether it feels that way or not (usually not).

  • http://www.thekeepingtime.blogspot.com/ Emily

    I just found your blog and I’m glad I did. This was a great post! I like what you said about ‘getting on with your work’ after you meet a hater. I’m definitely the type to obsess over criticism, so it’s good to be prepared!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       Thanks for reading, Emily!

  • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

    Back in October, I had someone respond to one of my posts in a way that demonstrated they weren’t on board with what I was sharing.  I can deal with disagreement, but I’m not a big fan of the use of profanity and coarse talk to bash my perspective.

    Yes, there will be haters.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       indeed

  • Laura

    After speaking at Toastmasters each time someone would respond that I blink too slow and it was distracting.  Now every time I stand up in front of an audience I obsess about my blink rate.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       That’s a bummer, Laura. One day, I’ll write a post on the art of delivering feedback. It’s hard to do well.

  • Shirley Creed

    I think that’s why I can’t bring myself to write. I used to, rather a lot, as unselfconscious as a toddler. But now I seem to be my own hater. I’ll start off and then think ‘that’s stupid’ or ‘what a load of BS’. I’m crushed before a paragraph is written. Any suggestions for dealing with that?

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       Shirley, if you can, turn off your brain. Don’t self-edit. Just write. Give yourself permission to fail. The point of first drafts is just to get something down on paper. Then, you have something to work with.

      Think of it like giving birth. Would you criticize your child for not being able to walk as soon as it’s born? Of course, not. It needs to learn how to use its feet and hands and, well, its everything. The same is true for anything you create.

      Give yourself (and your work) grace.

      • Shirley Creed

         Thanks Jeff. I like that analogy.  Will try and drop the perfectionism and give the poor little critters (hah!) a chance to grow.

  • Janice Palko

    Excellent post on the difference between criticism and hate.  I believe you can engage critics, but the haters are best left alone.  They have some deficit within themselves that you can’t fill–only they can address whatever they lack and correct it.

    Janice

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       Thanks, Janice. Well said.

  • Helen @ zen mummy

    For all the communication opportunities provided by the internet, it’s sad that it provides such an easy route for envious and cowardly people to spit out attacks. I’ve been lucky, I’ve not had any ‘attacks’ so far ~ fingers crossed!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       Thanks, Helen. I agree. It is sad.

  • http://www.sarahmae.com/ Sarah Mae

    My favorite part of this “yes and amen” post is the picture. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       :)

  • Anonymous

    Jeff, 

    Years ago you reviewed a book of mine and gave it a tepid review. You weren’t being a hater– just calling it like you saw it. The review ticked me off at first. Later, much later, I came to agree with your point of view. Now its’ just a motivator. Thanks for that. 

    As far as haters go… best practices is to not engage them.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       Thanks, Larry. Yikes. What a sobering thought for the reviewer. To be honest, I was immature and probably didn’t handle that review correctly. Thanks for being so gracious.

      • Anonymous

        I didn’t get immature. Your critique was that I didn’t commit and take a firm position. I wouldn’t have taken the position you suggested. But your critique that I was playing it safe was dead on. No fears, Jeff.

        • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

          Thanks, Larry. This is a great perspective. Still, I know I could have been more sensitive to how my critique would have affected you. It was, at very least, short-sighted. Again, I appreciate your grace.

  • http://www.voyagersquill.com/about Patrick Hearn

    I’ve seen this happening too, on other blogs I follow. Someone posts something intentionally hateful, for no reason – one time someone posted, “I think you’re just irresponsible and not facing reality,” on a long-term travel blog. 

    I’ve never understood why people do that, but this post is an awesome way of dealing with it. Thanks, Jeff!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       Thanks, Patrick. It’s hard to understand motivation. Best thing to do is find an intrinsic motivation for doing your work.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1499596124 Adam Sullivan

    Keep it coming.

  • http://daydreamher.wordpress.com/ dionne

    “Do what you were made to do. Pursue passion, not approval.”
    Great statements, and necessary to pay attention to! It’s so easy to be scared off by the hate, i am guilty as charged of whimpering at the slightest idea that someone might feel offended. But for the one hater, there are many more supporters (who are usually also shy at coming forward!). I guess the important question i ask myself is whether what i am saying is going to contribute in a positive way to the world, or is it detrimental and hurtful. The truth will out! Thanks for this post. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       Thanks, Dionne. You’re welcome!

  • http://thehandwritten.com MichaelDPerkins

    The last thing?  Well, hopefully everything. I wrote last week how at the beginning of February I received the worst piece of criticism I have ever received and it crippled me for nearly a month.  But I’ve moved on and realized that it just comes with the territory (which is funny because I already knew that).

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       love this: “well, hopefully everything.” hah! keep writing stuff worth criticizing, Michael. it’s striking a chord… and resonating.

      • http://thehandwritten.com MichaelDPerkins

        I appreciate that Jeff.

  • Sandra Delemare

    The haters – and they are usually anonymous – are cowards, and just not worth bothering with, just send up a quick prayer – Jesus died for them too!
    Some years ago I wrote (and had published) many letters to the local papers. One person took the trouble of finding out my full address and writing to me – but he/she didn’t give their own name and address, so I was denied the opportunity of writing a (I hope) gracious reply.
    You’re spot on, Jeff. Just get on with what you’re doing – not seeking approval from man.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       thanks, Sandra!

  • http://www.alise-write.com Alise Wright

    Absolutely. I think we can minimize people who hate for no apparent reason by stating our strongly held opinions with grace and avoiding in hateful rhetoric in our own writing, but yeah. It’s going to happen.

    Something I’ve also discovered is that some people have legitimate criticisms or disagreements, but they don’t have an “agree to disagree” attitude and will just keep going forever. Those are situations that are harder for me to disentangle myself from. The ability to move from legitimate critic to hater can sometimes be subtle and I’m not always good at recognizing that and as a result, I’ve gotten sucked into arguments that aren’t healthy for me. 

    My personal rule now is that I will absolutely address a comment/email that is a disagreement with what I’ve written, especially if I wasn’t clear at the original piece, but I won’t keep going back to it. If there are really valid concerns, I may address them later in another post, but I won’t sit and argue in my comment section or in emails. That saves me SOME angst. ;-D

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       thanks for sharing, Alise. I’ve realized lately that I can spend all day responding to criticism, but that’s not what I was made to do. I was made to CREATE.

  • http://twitter.com/GregPipkin Greg Pipkin

    Learning how to discern between critics and haters can really help a leader grow.  Great thoughts today, Jeff.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       thanks, Greg!

  • http://www.adamlasky.com/ Adam Lasky

     So glad you posted this Jeff.  I dealt with this last week when someone left a hateful comment on one of my posts.  It wasn’t criticism.  It was hate.  I tried like you said to open a dialogue with this person, but I have yet to hear back.  I try to be honest with my mistakes and learn from them, but Alfred is right: “some just want to watch the world burn.” 

    I’ll be honest I started to let that hateful comment consume me.  I obsessed over it.  I thought about quitting.  Over one hateful comment!  I wanted to run.  So I did…literally.  I went for a run, and that made all the difference in the world.  I decided to push through and keep on creating, not worrying about the haters.

  • http://twitter.com/kevinowens4 Kevin Owens

    Thank you for making such a clear distinction between a critic and a hater. Haters should be ingored. (Though, in all honesty, if I didn’t have haters, I would probably feel like I’m doing it wrong.)

    However, I see too many who automatically pull the “hater” card in the face of any criticism. I see this as a huge mistake and potential lost opportunity for learning and growth. Great post.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       I agree, Kevin. Haters show you you’re doing something worth doing.

  • http://www.nurturingcreativity.net/ Denise Smedley

    It’s better if people love your work or hate it.  You don’t want people to just think it’s OK, or have lukewarm sentiments about it.  

    I would take the critics as a compliment.  It means your words were strong enough to evoke some emotion.  They took the time to send you an email, so what you had to say mattered.  Trust me.That aside, you’re right about finding the truth in criticism.  I try to do the same. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       that’s right, Denise. what we don’t want is to be mediocre.

  • http://www.christtribe.com/ Bob Holmes

    Good thoughts Jeff.

    I too am not popular enough yet to be seen as a threat.

    I have however, had some terrible attacks other places on line. But I’ve seen the pain and the venting and was able to respond compassionately and reconcile.
    It’s gonna happen. Broken people break and hurt people hurt.

    You’ve got a lot of compassion Jeff. Listen greatly to God’s correction and lightly to other people’s.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       That’s right, Bob. I have to remember this when the attacks come: hurt people HURT people.

      • http://abravelife.com/ Kimberly

         Jeff, I think you did an excellent job of responding to your hater (both in words and action).

        The “7 out of 10″ rule is a good way to measure whether or not your haters/ critics are right about you:

        If 7 out of 10 people agree that you are XYZ, then you probably are. On the other hand, if only 3 or fewer perceive you that way,
        then the issue is more likely with the critics themselves. This doesn’t mean that we can’t benefit from some slight tweaking based on their input. But we should remember that for whatever reason,
        there is something about us that triggers our haters’ insecurities.
        And if they’re taking the time to blame us in writing, the probably don’t
        realize how profoundly their insecurities effect them. They don’t realize they’re hurt and hurting others, as Bob stated above.

        • http://www.facebook.com/JChadBarrett Chad Barrett

          Kimberly, I haven’t heard that “7 out of 10″ thing before. Great comment! A good rule of thumb to work with. thx!

  • Meg Davis

    I so needed to hear this this morning; I’m finding my voice more clearly than ever which excites me! But last night I realized the diversity of my audience’s family background… I connect with both kinds of girls but I only have one channel to speak to both: I don’t know how to walk this tightrope!

    God will show me how & I know He’ll help me as I offend people on both sides: there’ll be enough people Blessed that I can keep on a post one more day.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    ~Meg

  • http://twitter.com/afloatca Andrew Jefferies

    Jeff,
    When you get a hater comment here on one of your posts, do you leave it or do you moderate it out?

    I’m not sure what the “right ” answer is but I’m curious what you do and what your rational is.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       Great question, Andrew. It depends. If the dialogue is helpful to the community, I may leave it. More often than not, though, I delete the comment. Most dissenters aren’t looking to dialogue; they just want to pick a fight. Ultimately, it’s YOUR community. Think of it as your home; if someone’s speaking to you in a way where you would ask them to leave, then ask them to leave.

  • http://uppside.blogspot.com/ susan upp

    Thank you.  I needed this.

    Some people want to watch the world burn…some want to welcome Spring.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       you’re welcome. love the alternative to watching the world burn. there is reason to have hope.

  • http://colebradburn.com/ Cole Bradburn

    This excerpt from Theodore Roosevelt’s Citizenship in a Republic speech has always been motivating and a refuge for me in the face of haters.

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       love that quote.

  • http://cherionethingivelearned.blogspot.com/ Cheri Gregory

    LOVE this post! I’m forwarding it to the Minister of Music for my church (who happens to be my husband!) — he’s had plenty of those “anonymous” notes from ministers of misery…

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I had no idea how common this was until recently.

  • Susann Gehring

    Seems God knew just where to send me this morning, as I had never heard of you till a little bit ago and your post spoke well to my hurting heart at this moment.  Thank you for your words.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       you’re welcome, Susann. Sorry to hear you are hurting. Be encouraged.

  • http://www.chadgibbs.com Chad Gibbs

    I got one hater email from my first book.  Guy said after the 26th page it was unreadable.  I replied that if he read the first 25 pages 10 times he’d get his money’s worth.  Never heard back.  Great words Jeff.  

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      hah! no harm in having a little fun.

  • http://lifebeforethebucket.blogspot.com/ Adrian Waller

    Hmm… I don’t get many critics or haters (if any) when I write. I recently had one when I guest posted over at a friend’s blog, and I tried to start a discussion with him, but he didn’t seem interested, so I let it go. I suppose not having these people isn’t necessarily a problem (though I could always use more constructive critics, to be sure).

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       I think it happens in seasons. Trust that when it comes, you’ll be prepared for it. Until then, you may be in a season of preparation.

  • http://jessemedina.com/ Jesse Medina

    I appreciate this post, Jeff.  And I know from personal experience that you are able to receive criticism without dismissing it.  It’s one of the things I appreciate about you.

    Keep it up, man.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       thanks, Jesse. great to hear from you.

  • Anonymous

    THANK YOU!!!! This is exactly what I needed to read!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       I’m glad, Melanie. Stay encouraged.

  • http://www.stephindialogue.com Stephanie S. Smith

    Encouraging advice :) I find it’s a tricky balance to strike between having a thick skin against said haters, and also have the humility to listen to haters and critics alike since there may be truth in what they say. 

  • d.o.

    Well said. This puts things in perspective and a good reminder not to let the haters interfere with your creative work.

  • http://www.theskooloflife.com Srinivas Rao

    Jeff,

    IN the last few weeks I literally get one email every day from somebody who tells me my work is nonsense. Almost immediately after I get an email from a raving fan.  My reply to the skool of life reader who said my work was ridiculous was “you’re free to ditch class.” I think you;’ve made a great distinction here. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       hah! love it. people make themselves feel bigger by putting others down. it’s ridiculous, because it never works. those people still don’t like themselves very much.

  • http://granbee.wordpress.com/ Rose Byrd

    The last thing I said worth criticism was “Most national polls show only about 1/5th of the adult population in the U.S. are self-identified liberals.”  Before that, I said, “Our job as Christians is to love, not judge.”

  • http://www.publicationcoach.com/ Daphne Gray-Grant

    You’re so right: critics CAN help us grown. But they have to be specific. Your person who wouldn’t give you the details of what made him unhappy was a nuisance, not a critic. You’re wise to ignore him. 

  • http://jacksonstory.wordpress.com/ J. Jackson Jr.

    In my day job as a newspaper reporter I manage to elicit a wide range of emotions from readers and sources. But that’s from telling readers what others have said. My blog and my works-in-progress are my platform for telling readers what I say and think.

    Three times a week my blog is a sort of memoir-in-progress, with Wednesday devoted to chronicling my faith journey (“Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting.”) I recently shared a yesteryear example of how a group of judgmental, harsh Christian women failed to demonstrate grace when they insisted that a young man (not me) wash his long, scraggly hair and “clean up” before he could be baptized. http://bit.ly/zrBfVV

    That was only a small part of the story, but it was the part that got the most attention from some readers who criticized me for making Christians look judgmental and harsh.

    I didn’t consider that a criticism, though, because it’s exactly the point I was making.

  • http://www.birdsontheblog.co.uk/ Sarah Arrow

    Good thoughts and sound advice. The problem I have with people who give unsolicited feedback, I look into the matter and in some cases decide not to act upon it. I get accused of not listening, being a megalomaniac and all kinds of things.

    There is no rule that says we have to change and adjust to every single piece of feedback we are ever given, we’d be in a constant state of flux and nothing would get done. 

  • http://www.freshwind-ministries.org/ Yvette

    I have had a few haters in my time.  It’s best to stand back up and keep going and not let them get to you.  I have enjoyed your blog, has helped me in my writing.  

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      thanks, Yvette.

  • http://mindfullyhealing.com/ Kim

    I love this post.  I’m not at the point where I have “haters” (yet?)..or maybe they’re just quiet :).  But THIS jumped right off the page at me: But what happens when you build one and people start showing up? Then, the real work begins: You have to keep people’s attention.  

    This is where I feel like I am…people are starting to show up…and I think I’m wandering around with this sort of low-level anxiety about it.  Thrilled, scared, unsure…  Yikes.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      yep. that is scary. but it’s also where character is formed.

  • http://intentionalbygrace.com Leigh Ann

    Super helpful post. I needed this reminder today. Very timely. Thanks for your faithfulness to challenge us!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      my pleasure, Leigh Ann. thanks for reading.

  • Hope Clark

    Jeff
    I’ve had similar comments for FundsforWriters.com. I am reaching a good number of readers now (45,000 with all four newsletters), and occasionally someone unsubscribes with a comment about “becoming arrogant” or “it’s too much about you” etc.  When we fight to reach a larger audience, we can’t help but brush up against someone who is jealous, but then again, the comments still strike home with me. For the next couple of weeks, I watch how I present myself. Frankly, those comments, while they sting, are a good barometric check. The sender may not have the nerve to confront me, but he also might be giving me a message I need to hear. So I usually listen, at least a little bit.

    Hope Clark
    http://www.fundsforwriters.com
    http://www.chopeclark.com

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I agree. I go thru the same cycle, Hope. I think it’s healthy (but hard).

  • http://twitter.com/eshantis Ebony ✿ Sonnetbird

    The last thing I said worth criticizing had to do with the Komen/PP debacle, and I inadvertently incensed a crazy horde of pro-choice activists, who proceeded to tell me that my choice to choose life was small-minded and old fashioned. I struck a nerve, and knew that I needed to say what I said. You can’t address the issues that you can’t see, the ones that hide behind manners or social graces. Get them to stand up and shout, then you know exactly the ones who need your words most.

    The double-edged sword that comes with being increasingly exposed to the public eye is that you reach a lot of people and opinions, and as a direct result, the number of those who will not agree increase as well. My very wise mother, a teacher, reminds me that the more arrows you see flying, the higher your perspective and position. Remember your shield of Faith :)

  • Anonymous

    A soft answer turns away wrath.  Proverbs 15:1

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       amen

  • http://heathersunseri.com Heather Sunseri

    This is great, Jeff! Some writing buddies and I have been talking out the issue of whether fictional authors should write about controversial subjects on their blogs or do they risk turning away readers. I tend to fall on the side of writing about risky subjects because I like to think about these subjects, but I definitely run into a little criticism from time to time.

    Anyway, I like the two choices you provide above. I think I’ll go with door #2 most of the time.

  • Writerpamelasblack

    You can also do what one of my favorite pastors does- Craig Groeschel of Lifechurch.tv- get an email at idontgivearip.com.  Fast, effective, and to the point. 

    I agree it’s great to listen to the critics, but when God has given you a job you have a higher authority to answer to. Self doubt is the best way to get sidetracked and I am my own worst enemy when it comes to this. I can sabotage my own best efforts with worry and comments from the peanut gallery only fuel the fire. 

    The only thing that helps me is staying focused on the goal. That being said, I am still too afraid to make my platform public. Yet. Keep gnawing on me.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      love that. i kinda wanna get that URL.

  • http://write-along-blog.blogspot.com/2012/01/writers-writing-fat-camp-booking.html Hillary

    Well considered post. I think everything said/should be considered from a point of view of “this is what I believe, but I am open to discussion.” I try my best to work from this perspective, and I’ve learned a lot from it, even sometimes to the point of changing or redefining what I believed/said.

    From my experience, those who take advantage of a person in an open minded position by slandering them, have jealousy, fear, or anger issues within themselves that they are taking out on the other person. In the end, like you said, you’ve got to apply whatever lesson you can from what they said and move on. Sometimes, if they keep it up, confrontation is necessary. 

    In the end, I can only hope my own willingness to hear them out and respect them will inspire them to do the same. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Hillary.

  • James Wood

    I try to take it as a sign of success when I’ve said something that evokes a response from people, even if that response is hate. They read my words and were compelled to respond. That’s a win, in my mind. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      on my better days, i tend to agree.

  • http://timewithtracy.com/ Time With Tracy

    I love your response: thank them and ask for examples. What an effective way to distinguish between critics and haters.

    I used to keep an “encouragement folder” on my desk. It contained special notes of thanks or admiration from students and parents. I would read through it on days that the “haters” were getting to me. Teaching is, for the most part, a thankless profession. The majority of the communication you receive is riddled with complaints. (I could summarize many of the emails I received over the years with “you suck, you are failing my child”). So whenever someone took the time to express appreciation, I cherished it. 

    You don’t have to look far, Jeff, to see that you are making a huge difference in the lives of so many people. The hater is just like the bully on the playground…they feel unloved and insecure. Don’t let them take even a minute of your emotional energy! (It’s so easy to say, right?) And in my opinion, you don’t ever come across as arrogant in your writing. Just confident.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

       thanks, Tracy, means a lot.

  • http://talesofwork.com/ kimanzi constable

    Isn’t it funny how some people want to drag you down to make themselves feel better about their inaction? The problem with haters is they can feed into your own doubts, so you have to be strong and focus on why you’re building your platform. I won’t let hates stop me, I have made the most progress I’ve ever made in my life towards my dreams.

    If I listened to what the haters said about my writing, I wouldn’t be guest posting on Michael Hyatt’s blog this Friday, I would have given up already. Our message is too important to listen to a few haters. I hope you didn’t listen to that emailer Jeff, you’re writing what we all need to hear!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      thanks, Kimanzi. love your positivity.

  • http://thewholedangthing.wordpress.com Ben Emerson

    Hmm, I wonder if there is value in saying things that are worth criticizing. Not that you are saying things that are wrong, but taking a stand for something and then opening yourself up to whatever the response may be. 

    There was some really helpful stuff in here. 

    Also good for people who comment to learn as well. Defending bloggers from trolls is not our job and it won’t work. Those who comment should probably just ignore trolls or ask them to engage. Not fight back. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      right. ignoring is usually the best route to go.

  • Anonymous

    Great post Jeff.  When someone comments anonymously it’s because they’re a coward. I have no time or patience to deal with that, although admittedly I don’t get much of it. We tend to find like minded readers, at their core.  I’m fairly political on my fb page and have been known to rant on my blog so people either agree with me or move on.  I learned a long time ago, you can never please all the people.
    b

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      great lessons

  • http://twitter.com/RoweMatthew Matthew Rowe

    So very true. Before I become popular I have to learn not to bait trolls. They might decide to tear my house down. I like this house.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      They liked bridges too

  • http://alexmarestaing.com/ Amarestaing

    It takes confidence to be humble and accept criticism, and it take confidence to move forward in the face of it

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Well said.

  • http://motivatedmastery.com/ Paul Jun

    Lesson 1: Don’t feed the trolls.
    Lesson 2: If all else fails, repeat rule one.

  • Navya

    Like! Thanks for the difference between critics and haters. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      My pleasure.

  • http://www.riatarded.wordpress.com/ ria

    Someone recently said this to me, “Your blog sucks, it is too personal.” but when I asked them how I could improve, they didn’t have an answer. 

    Generally in life I have decided to just focus on people who care and to ignore haters. Critics are always welcome though :) 

  • Guest

    “Pursue passion not approval.” I loved this advice. As a people pleaser, I definitely tend to go with response #1: Obsess. I worry and brood, trying to figure out a way to ensure that everyone agrees with what I have to say…which is definitely impossible. Thanks for reminding me of my goal: changing people with words. 

  • http://twitter.com/CCConsulting Charles Luttrell

    Jeff,

    Great article. I have experienced just what you said but they were not a hater. They provided powerful feedback which lead me to completely redesign my logo. After redesigning my logo, it encouraged me to rebuild my website.

    While I was proud of my own work and design, I am glad someone stepped up to provide that feedback for better not for worse.

    Have a look and I am still open to feedback.

    http://www.cccmysteryshopping.com

    Thanks again and great post! 

  • http://thisblankpage.com/ Timothy Snyder

    I applaud your willingness to accept criticism.  Criticism is a beautiful thing.  Trolling and hating however is incredibly frustrating.  It’s like the Joker.  There’s no reasoning with it.  It’s as simple as “haters gonna hate” which makes me think of this: http://images.stuffofawesome.com/taters-gonna-tate-1306724421-282.png

    Once I think of that, I have a little laugh and feel much better.

  • Aseley

    I produce our church’s monthly newsletter. I usually write a column that I’ve prayerfully listened for from God. A few months ago, I felt compelled to write about how people needed to get along better in society and that went for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. A few weeks later, one of the older ladies whom I’ve know for 35 years told me she truly disliked my article and that she’d rather have seen an article by our pastor than the one I had written. You see I wrote it for the December issue. She thought it should have been happy fluff and seasonal. 

    I was deeply stunned. This woman had never spoken to me in such a manner before. I realized my topic had struck a nerve, even though I did not mention names or even situations. After praying about it and pondering if it had been appropriate, I made peace with myself because I sensed I had been an instrument of God’s. And yes, it was what needed to be said, season or not.

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ The JackB

    Playing it safe means you are doing a disservice to yourself and everyone else who reads your words. Just write and accept that some people will criticize you.

    They may have a valid point and they may not. Sometimes it is because they are having a bad day and sometimes it is because they are crazy.

    Or maybe it is something else. Just write.

  • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

    I think some people act like trolls because they are intimidated by your work. They know what they should be doing, but are too afraid to do it. To ease their conscience, they medicate their souls by criticizing others. The key is to discern what criticism is helpful and what is not. To get nuggets out of the few who offer some help. Thanks, Jeff.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JChadBarrett Chad Barrett

    This is just what I needed to hear today, Jeff. I love how you put this: “What you’re called to do is say something worth disagreeing with. To change the world–in some small way–with your words.” This post has really encouraged me, brutha. thx!

  • Mbetters

    As a Christian professing my beliefs, I’ve encountered a few flamers online. The real trouble is resisting the urge to retaliate, or ostracize the person, or ridicule their opinions. The computer monitor tends to act as a mask for some people. It really does reveal someone’s character. Thanks for this, Jeff!

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    As usual, insightful stuff worth pondering. I am reminded of Jesus’ words about being either hot or cold (which has come up a lot lately). Being praised or slammed is better than being ignored. At least you know folks are out there.

    I think of two posts, one ancient (at least, in blog years) and one recent, where I wrote something worth criticizing. “A Tale of Two Flight Attendants” ( http://tnealtarver.com/2012/02/21/a-tale-of-two-flight-attendants/ ) actually was stimulated by the post where you share a recent flight experience. “Can Angels Be Christian?” ( http://tnealtarver.com/2012/02/04/can-angels-be-christian/ ) certainly got a little stimulating conversation going as well.

    My debut novel “Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes,” because of the themes of heaven and hell, should generate both criticism and hate. I’m sure I’ll hear/read some encouraging words as well.

  • Meg R

    I guess I have a question.  When you have been ridiculed, criticized, mocked, your entire life starting with all those people who were supposed to love you and you were supposed to trust, how do you stop letting the haters get you?  I know I am a writer because I have been doing it since I felt safe in my own life.  But the fear of having anyone ever see anything I write sends me into a tail spin. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      You believe you are loved. By someone.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Jeff.  This post captures a lesson that anyone new to the blogging world needs to learn. 

  • http://twitter.com/cynicalbynature Kevin Basil

    Criticism is a gift, we just can’t always pick the wrapping it comes in. Sure, it may be a surprise and it may even hurt, but it’s still important to listen to. One of the most humbling experiences for me was when my editor sent me feedback and corrections on The Unlimited. Nobody likes to hear what they did wrong or anything negative at all, especially when it concerns something so personal and important to them. Your response to cristicism is excellent. You embrace it, learn from it, and move on.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      good call. sometimes, i really hate the wrapping.

  • http://twitter.com/PatWooldridge Patricia Wooldridge

    Abraham Lincoln said, “A person can please 50% of the people 50% of the time.”

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Nice

  • http://dogfuranddandelions.com/ Elizabeth @ DogFur&Dandelions

    Jeff, great thoughts, but got a question about this. What if you DO write stuff worth criticizing – you DO take a hard stand on things – and people respond but all with agreement? What if nobody disagrees?

    Is that something that comes with size (I’m only around 200 readers right now)? Or am I not being as strong as I think I am in my blog posts?

  • BobbieJoD

    Thank you Jeff for sharing another wonderful post. =) I believe that haters are just reflections of our own hidden judgments about ourselves, stemming from a lack of self-worth deep within our sub/unconscious. Haters (and loving people) serve as our mirror, and remind us to look within so that we may know if we’re truly loving ourselves unconditionally. As we remember more of who we truly are (a Divine part of God), we can better work on self-awareness and transformation (to include facing the unknown aspects of All That Is). By better understanding, empathizing with, having compassion for, forgiving, accepting the ALL (the glory and the imperfections, as well as the “dark” and the “light”), and ultimately unconditionally loving ourselves, we’re able to fully do this for others. However, we cannot expect others to respect and love us, if we’re not willing to fully do this for ourselves. When we choose to see ourselves and others through the eyes of God, we are truly Being our authentic selves/Love/Peace/Joy/Freedom/Truth/Abundance/Power/God-self. I now welcome all aspects of God/Goddess/All That I with open arms, because they help me to remember more of my whole self, some of which my ego may not be too willing to embrace out of pride. I am also grateful for all the “good” and “bad” that show up in my life, for my soul has created these blessings in disguise to help with my soul growth, and to remind me that We Are All One. You are a gift to humanity. ^_^

  • Symanntha Renn

    I posted a short poem just this morning that some people may not like, but I like sharing my experiences so I posted it. http://failingathaiku.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/time-sensitive-senryu/