How to Triumph Over Your Haters

I’m dealing with some haters right now. Here's my approach to them.

Welcome to One Thing Better. Each week, the editor in chief of Entrepreneur magazine (that's me) shares one way to be more successful and satisfied — and build a career or company you love.

Today’s one thing: Ignoring the haters

That one thing, better: Understanding the haters

Made with ChatGPT 4

Do you worry about haters? Doubters? Insults?

I’m dealing with some of that right now.

Here’s a comment that was just left on my Instagram:

I am aware! People on Reddit are calling me a narcissist. JessonBI89 wrote: “Jason, you're an egomaniac and nobody likes you.” Meanwhile, someone called softergentler wrote that I have “an incredibly punchable face.”

I’ll admit: This stuff makes my heart race, as if I’m in some kind of danger. It’s alarming to think about all these strangers, across the world, disliking me.

But also, I say this with total sincerity: Whatever.

Over many years, and many haters, I’ve developed an internal strategy for blocking this stuff out — while also making room for the possibility that some haters have a point.

Today, that’s what I want to give you. You might not have haters on Reddit, but maybe you have them in your social circle, your professional network, or anywhere else. It sucks! I want to help you block out the noise, take more risks, and still learn and grow — so you can do the best work of your life, unapologetically.

But first, let’s rewind a little...

Here’s how this whole Reddit thing started.

Two weeks ago, I wrote my first (of two) newsletters about self-promotion. As you might recall, I shared a story about being interviewed for a job. The hiring manager had asked some former colleagues about me, and heard that I’m talented but “it’s always The Jason Feifer Show with him.”

“What do you make of that?” he asked me.

I defended myself, saying that my personal brand was good for business.

When I shared this in my newsletter, readers responded strongly and positively. Many told me their own stories of being shamed for being a “strong personality,” or thanked me for nudging them to promote themselves more.

That inspired me to share my story on LinkedIn — and holy cow, the post blew up. It’s past 13 million impressions now!

And that’s what caught attention on Reddit. Turns out there’s a subreddit called LinkedIn Lunatics, where people make fun of LinkedIn posts they don’t like. I earned two posts — you can see all the insults here and here. And here’s a taste:

I first learned about this on a Saturday morning, as my kids were having breakfast. When I saw the Reddit posts, I froze — and then quickly cycled through emotions. Fear. Embarrassment. Defiance. I fantasized about all the comebacks that would shame these people...

Then I stopped and remembered how I’ve dealt with this in the past. People often say to “ignore the haters,” but I’ve never found that useful — because ignoring something doesn’t make it disappear!

Instead, I like to confront these things… without confronting haters themselves. That way, I can transform the experience into something less scary and more positive.

It’s a three-step process that goes like this:

Step 1: Who are they?

When you have haters, it’s easy to worry that everyone hates you — and that’s scary! But your haters aren’t big and abstract. They’re actually small and specific. And the closer you look, the smaller they’ll seem.

So, who are mine? I decided to pick one and find out. 

Most people are anonymous on Reddit — but if you click on any user’s profile, you can see everything they’ve posted. I looked at JessonBI89, the person who told me that I’m “an egomaniac” and that nobody likes me.

Here’s what I learned: This person spends a lot of time making fun of people’s LinkedIn posts. About one post, they wrote: “This is why nobody invites you to things anymore, Andy.” In reference to another, they wrote that “I prefer being around people who live outside their own buttholes.”

In other words: JessonBI89 wasn’t focused on me at all. I was just caught up in their daily insult routine, which for some reason brings them joy or comfort. I saw the same pattern in other users’ profiles.

This leads me to my next question:

2. Do I want to reach these people?

Whenever you speak or act, you’re going to reach three potential audiences:

First, there’s your people — your colleagues, friends, customers, or whoever else already likes you.

Next, there’s your next people — folks who will be interested or inspired by you, and can become your next colleagues, friends, or customers.

And finally, there’s not your people — folks who are either disinterested or actively unhappy about what you’ve said or done, because their interests and goals do not align with yours.

Now here’s the thing: The louder you are, the more likely you are to reach all three groups. 

Here, I drew a little diagram:

The way I see it, this is the cost of doing business. Growth requires speaking up — even though, in the process, we risk being heard or seen by people who are not our people.

There is no alternative to this. It’s literally impossible to please everyone — and if you try, you will end up pleasing nobody. You must be for someone, which inherently means being not for someone else.

So when I hear from haters, I want to know: Did I stumble with my next people, or am I hearing from people who will never be my people?

This is an important distinction — because if I stumbled with my intended or potential audience, I probably have some lessons to learn. But if I stumbled with people I could never win over anyway, then I need to ignore it. Otherwise, the not my people will start stealing energy away from my people.

Then there’s one final question to ask:

#3. Do they have a point?

Let us humble ourselves: Haters might just be haters, or they might be noticing our blind spots. And the latter is worth listening to.

Here’s a time that happened to me...

As you might know, magazines often begin with an editor’s letter — like this:

When I became editor in chief of Entrepreneur, I wanted to do something fresh with that space — so I turned it into an act of transparency. Every issue, I’d offer a new lesson on how entrepreneurs can get press for their business, and then explain why my team picked certain stories for that issue.

After my first column, many readers wrote to thank me for the insights. After my second, fewer of them replied. And after my third, the emails turned angry.

People said I was self-centered. “I don’t care about getting press in Entrepreneur, so why do you keep writing about it?” one wrote. “We get it — you’re a big-shot editor,” another wrote.

My first instinct, just like with Reddit, was to dismiss these people. But I looked closely at them: They were entrepreneurs. Subscribers. These were my people and my next people — exactly who I wanted to reach! So why were they upset?

I replied to them, asking to understand their perspective. Many were helpful and thoughtful. They basically told me: “I’d enjoy a column about the media if it was later in the magazine — but when you make it the editor’s letter, it’s as if you’re saying ‘The most important thing in this magazine is how to get in the magazine.’ And that’s off-putting.”

They were right. They saw something I didn’t, because I was too caught up in my own vision. This forced me to think deeper about how to write a column for entrepreneurs, which pushed me way outside my comfort zone.

I started writing advice. I shared vulnerable stories. It was an incredible growth opportunity, and became the seed of this One Thing Better newsletter I now write weekly.

Sometimes, the most valuable lessons are also the hardest ones to hear.

The paradox of haters…

Haters aren’t thoughtful. But you can deal with them thoughtfully.

Haters don’t support you. But you can use them to support yourself.

Haters are negative. But you can create a positive outcome.

You’ll never win by feeding the trolls, but you don’t have to hide from them. Look straight at them. Be unafraid. Grow stronger as a result.

That’s how to do one thing better.

I’ll join your next team call!

A selfie I took while writing this :)

Do you run a company, manage a team, or oversee an ERG or other employee group?

We should talk.

Recently, a few One Thing Better readers reached out with a request: Would I talk with their teams? Some teams were going through big changes. Some teams were newer employees looking for career guidance.

Absolutely, I said — I regularly keynote events on these subjects, and love leading more intimate conversations as well. So that’s what we did: We talked about major challenges and empowering solutions. Some conversations were in person, some were by Zoom, all were incredible experiences.

One attendee shared afterward: “You just showed this group of developing leaders that it is okay to have hard conversations. That is HUGE development. Pure growth mindset. My cup feels full.”

I’ve created a one-sheet about this workshop, but am happy to customize it to your needs. Get in touch! Reply to this email, or drop me a line at [email protected].

P.S. Can you do me a favor? Please forward this newsletter to someone who needs it!

P.P.S. Want to write a book? Next Tuesday (July 9), I’m hosting a live Q&A about book-writing in an amazing community called SPI. It’s full of experts and resources to help you grow a small business. Learn more and sign up here.

P.P.P.S. Did you miss last week’s newsletter? It was about how to tell everyone how awesome you are (especially if it makes you uncomfortable). Read!

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