2 Critical Phrases to Handle Haters

Jon Acuff Method

Jon Acuff wrote about Loving Your Own Dream Too Much to Hate Somebody Else’s. In the post, he explains how he deals with haters:

When ever someone attacks me and the books I write, I always ask them a simple question:
“How did you write your book differently?”

That response is so powerful, I want to share and expand on it here.

As a leader, you are charged with making difficult decisions. Every decision comes with a trade-off. Every trade-off has the potential to make someone unhappy. Therefore, you are likely to encounter many haters in your career. We’re often trained to extinguish anger and frustration by inquiring how somebody would have done it differently. But that’s not Jon’s question.

Jon asks, “how did you” do it differently? When asked a theoretical question, the hater can always come back, still spitting venom, proclaiming their vastly superior suggestion. However, when asked to give a specific example of how they, themselves, handled the same or even similar situation, many haters will be quickly disarmed. The reality is, so many haters are so busy casting stones, they not bothered to collect any for their own home. They have no foundation. Haters often have no specific experience to call upon.

Hater Girl Makes Loser Sign on Forehead

Dale Carnegie Method

In a similar disarming tactic, Dale Carnegie preached the use of this popular sentiment:

 If I were in your shoes, I’d feel the same way.

Carnegie went on to explain this is always true. For, if you were born into that persons family, with their DNA, their life experiences and their perspectives, you would feel the same way. After all, you would be them. Yet placing this comment in front of a hater calms the temper. The individual suddenly has something in common with you and realizes you’re willing to see things from their perspective – even if you do not agree.

Combined Hater Mitigation Method

So the next time a hater crosses your path, don’t be angry or frustrated. Instead, try this:

If I were in your shoes, I’d feel the same way. Tell me, how did you handle a similar situation differently?

My bet is you will see a fast transformation from hate, to indifference to support.

Question: How do you handle haters?


Picture of Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

6 thoughts on “2 Critical Phrases to Handle Haters”

  1. Great post! If they’re haters with no genuine justification, I blow them off. If they’re actually giving me *somewhat* constructive feedback, I chew on it and consider what they have to say. Otherwise, I’ve noticed that haters are usually just blowing steam…

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