Need advice on how to deal with haters, complainers, and negative people? In this guide, I’ll show you what to do (and give you a free email template you can use).
Can you remember exactly where you were the last time you heard something that changed your life forever?
For me, it was sitting in an audience listening to best-selling author and founder of Dream University, Marcia Weider.
She walked on stage and proceeded to give a tour de force performance full of the energy that only a very small woman can have ;)…
And then she came out with a completely unforgettable gem that changed me completely:
“In business, you have to toughen your skin and soften your heart.”
I took that in and have been allowing it to guide me in my business ever since.
Courage like this is powerful enough to transform those who witness it.
It’s also strong enough to change the world.
But there’s also a downside…
When you open your heart and speak your message, it will threaten those who aren’t yet ready to hear it.
The moment you begin to truly express your heart in your business, you’ll start to get negative comments, angry social media mentions and judgmental emails…
It’s all too easy to get sucked down a “rabbit hole” of emotions – or worse yet, get stopped in your tracks.
So the real lesson (for you and for them) is in how you choose to respond:
• Do you feel hurt and start to second guess whether you should be sharing yourself like this?
• Do you get angry and lash out, defending your views against attack?
• Do you apologize for your transgression (assuming you made one) and ask the person to give you a second chance?
If none of those seem like productive options, there is another choice.
An Email Template to Use When Dealing With Difficult People
I believe there’s a way to respectfully acknowledge someone’s perspective without defending, attacking or apologizing for who you are.
So I wanted to share the exact email template my support team wrote to respond to these kind of notes, so you can be prepared for the inevitable ripples your message will create in the world.
It still makes me blush a little to read this… :).
Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
We definitely think it’s important to follow teachers whose beliefs are in alignment with our own, so we remain in integrity as individuals and as a community.
Marisa is known as someone who shares, teaches, guides and inspires through bold self-expression and vulnerable storytelling.
From time to time, we come in contact with someone in the community who doesn’t resonate with some of the honest self-expression shared. This is to be expected in life.
We respect their choice to not resonate with the message shared, just as much as we hope in return they respect that Marisa will remain Marisa… living a life of full self-expression without filtering who she is to please others.
And when those complaints do come in, for every one received, we receive at least 50 thank you’s from people who are inspired by Marisa’s bold, honest and caring self-expression and grateful to her for changing their lives.
If Marisa, or any of us for that matter, were to filter who we are for others, we would no longer be in integrity and our brilliance and calling in the world would be muted.
Marisa built this community on the foundation that each of us has a gift and message to share.
If she were to change who she is to please others she wouldn’t be true to her calling and higher purpose and that would be a great loss to many who look up to her and are inspired by the great work she does.
While Marisa’s style is bold and full of self-expression, she is never hurtful, malicious or disrespectful. She lives to inspire, guide and challenge others to step outside their comfort zone to be the best they can be, so each of us can be part of the positive ripple effect of change.
She has one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever known. I know that if what she says were to offend someone’s sensibilities, she would want them to first get curious about what’s really triggering them. Then remain in integrity with themselves, whether that’s taking ownership of the trigger or choosing a teacher and community that’s in alignment with their values. We follow the belief, “Don’t stay where you are tolerated, go where are you celebrated!”
So if Marisa being her amazing self isn’t someone you resonate with, then we humbly and graciously suggest that you might find more joy in someone else’s community.
If we don’t gel, we wish you well. 🙂
Shared with kindness and the warmest of wishes, (Team member)
Phew. How did that feel?
There’s a lot going on, so let’s break down each part of the template:
1) Mention the person by name
It’s good etiquette.
2) Thank the person
Yes, I realize the last thing you want to do is thank the person for bringing negativity into your space. But thank them anyway. Thank them for taking the time to write to you.
3) Let them know their viewpoint is shared…
In the template, we say:
“From time to time, we come in contact with someone in the community who doesn’t resonate with some of the honest self-expression shared. This is to be expected in life. We respect their choice to not resonate with the message shared (…)”
This lets the person know we’re not defensive and we do, in fact, receive feedback like theirs from time to time.
4) … but show them they’re in the minority
Though their viewpoint is shared by some, it isn’t shared by most. Tell them so.
In our template, we let them know that for every complaint we receive, we receive 50+ thank yous.
5) Stand up for yourself (respectfully)
Our template then spends the next several paragraphs explaining why we receive so many thank you messages.
Bragging? Not at all. It’s simply explaining what we do well, and why we have such a thriving community.
6) End it with class
“If we don’t gel, we wish you well.”
That says it all, doesn’t it? 🙂
Wrapping Things Up
I hope this helps.
Feel free to take this template, modify it and use it or share your own in the comments.
After all, we’ve all got the kind of courage it takes to be vulnerable in the face of judgment, criticism and even despair. The trick is being prepared before you get stopped or spun, because what you have to share with us is too important.
Now go out there and Live Your Message!
But before you go…
Ready to build the business of your dreams? It’s all about taking consistent action on the RIGHT things. And in my FREE Workshop, I’ll share the secrets to unlocking the science of consistent action.
During our time together, you’ll discover the overwhelm-free way to finally start building your business one tiny step at a time… PLUS learn the 5 proven ways to hack your brain to beat resistance and smash your goals (backed by science!). So, choose your date and time!
Love it? Hate it? Let me know...
Wow-that’s the second time in two days I have heard a similar message-I must need to hear it! What a wonderful reminder that we’ve each been given unique gifts and we need to USE THEM and be ourselves to make our greatest impact and help the most people. Thank you Marisa!
Well presented but I would keep it short and sweet
No doubt this individual has some inquietude as the French
Would say and probably will lack the patience
And ability to concentrate to even read let alone
Appreciate an expanded response…short and sweet…(unlike
This response!). P.S. Couldn’t find the button for the website
Tips content on my IPhone
Constructively, Mary G
What a great post! I’ve always wondered how to respond to negative feedback. You said it with grace and kindness while staying true to yourself.
That´s what it is know at the diplomat world like “Persona grata” answer. Thanks for share Marisa!
I am curious: I thought the best was ignoring the hater? Why do you send such a nice, long reply? Thanks Marisa
This email is good to deal with people who do not see your values.
Question: let’s say if they send email addressed to me. How do I use the template? Do I response to them in my view (1st person) rather than in 3rd person (like your email template did).
In the past, I had family members complained or criticized things I did, so instead of responding to that email, I just deleted it. Out of sight, less on mind ;-).
But if this comes from a client, I would response.
Thank you for your generosity in sharing the template as a handy tool. That is very well expressed with all humility and frankness.
Love your response. Thank you for sharing.
I was in the U.S. Navy many years ago, living on a destroyer with 150 other guys that there is No WAY in HELL you are going to get everyone to like you. Some people are actually looking for people to have confrontations with. It keeps them alive. It’s part of their personality. Same for the folks on the Internet!
For instance, some people will simply not like me because I served in the U.S. Navy. Some won’t like me cause I went to Princeton. Some people will not like me because I tend to be straightforward and direct. Others LOVE that about me. The list goes on and on.
“But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well
You see, you can’t please everyone so you gotta please yourself.” ~ Ricky Nelson from the song “Garden Party”
I’ve loved that song and that line from that song for many years!
Thanks for sharing, Marisa!!!
~ Jupiter Jim
This reminds me of a Ricky Gervais quote that I love…
“I don’t try to please anyone except myself. If people like what I do, fantastic. If they don’t, that’s good, too. If you start trying to water it down or second-guess, you end up with something so safe and homogenized that a lot of people will like it, but they won’t love it.”
I’m glad you do what you do!
Thank you for your positive example in responding to hater/ complainers and stay true to yourself. I used to gossip all the time but I began to see how negatively it effected others and also, myself. our words can be used as weapons or to uplift and empower,So I made an agreement with myself to always treat people with dignity and respect,to choose the words I put out into the world with compassion.
I have a simpler way of dealing with them, since at one moment in my life many crossed my path. “I respectfully accept your criticism but I am also obligated to extend my hand with advice. It is well known in psychology and other philosophy’s that we tend to reflect our hurt among others. Our expressions are merely an image of what we feel against ourselves, trying desperately to put it on someone else. So I would advice you to choose your words wisely before attempting to hurt someone if you do not want others to know your true self. As for me, I forgive and return with compassion your words, for they are not a reflection of who I am.” They never respond back and after having used this a couple of times, people have stopped.
I enjoyed your response and template process. Everyone encounters these incidents on the internet and in life in general. Thank you for modeling a respectful alternative to everyone involved.
Great timing with this message with all the conflict going on around us right now. Folks are getting energized by negativeness and getting more forthright with their judgements. Thanks for sharing the template. I am going to start working on my version right now before I need it. Thank you.
Best response ever. Thank you for spelling this out in detail for me.
Very good for communicating to a community audience, since you are the coordinator of it.
In cases where you are just chatting with other members, as a colleague, maybe other lines of action would be preferred – I use to answer aggressions to me with a joke.
So true! You have to cater your reply to who you’re talking to. Love using a joke to diffuse a situation. Thanks for reading and for sharing!