How to Deal with Internet Trolls and Personal Attacks on Your Brand

how to deal with internet trolls

The internet is a dark and scary place sometimes. With an unfiltered and “anonymous feel,” it can become very easy for people to humiliate and degrade strangers, their writings, and their personalities. This can be in forms of nasty comments on your article, harassment to you, or shameless self-promotion across your network (including poaching your clients or connections for their own personal gain).

This is often one of the biggest and most concerned questions I receive when I’m helping a business or individual market themselves online: “How do I deal with nasty comments, trolls, and unnecessary aggression?”’ No matter what niche I’ve assisted in marketing there are ALWAYS people who feel the need to attack/destroy an article and ideas in the comments. They sometimes will even take it a bit further and attack the author, their beliefs, and their unique selling proposition.

It happens.

First of all, you will never become an expert in your industry if you cannot professionally and calmly deal with negative feedback. You will have competitors, they will have clients, and you’ll need to be able to fully explain why you believe what you believe. Remember, your articles are still your opinion (no matter how many times the subject or teaching has worked for you in the past).

This means, that your interpretation of situations can be different than what others have seen. While you may think haters will only do your business harm—it can actually prove as a way to better defend your position, change their view point, and disarm objection that the quite readers thought—but didn’t confront you directly about. When you receive a nasty comment or slight online, simply follow these easy steps:

  1. Don’t react right away. This is your court, not theirs. They have sent you the initial “attack.” If you attack back—you’re no better and will be viewed as unprofessional and uncollected by your audience. If you think clearly and with a level head—you’ll provide a much better response. Often times I’ll hear, “well he was an asshole first. I was just defending my name.” Ah yes, you met his unprofessionalism with unprofessionalism of your own. To everyone else, it’s just two assholes arguing.
  1. Think to yourself, is this a valid argument/point the attacker is making? If it is a valid argument, you must respond to disarm the argument. As discussed earlier, this is an opportunity to destroy the skeptics and move your ideas forward. Most of us have learned our greatest life lessons in being wrong and in failure. This is part of your journey in becoming a known expert in your field.
  1. If it is not a valid argument, thank the person for their contribution and then point out how stupid their point is (professionally of course). Avoid using “you,” statements, as in “you’re wrong about this,” and focus on attacking the subject, “I disagree because…” When you make it about you arguing against her, both she and you will quickly start attacking each other, and get personally angry. If it’s about the subject at hand, it easier for everyone to talk with a level head.
  1. If this escalates further, remove yourself from the situation. You’re online to establish your professional identity, and arguing with a troll will never help that message along the way. All it will do is frustrate, discourage, and anger you.

Remember, if you’re doing business blogging or content creation—then you’re online to make money, grow your network, and establish your expertise in your chosen field. You’re not here to argue with every troll that wants the internet to know how “smart” they perceive themselves. Remember, you’re using your writings and content to help grow yourself in your chosen industry and niche. There are people who simply have nothing better to do than “hate” on that, and try and destroy what you’re building. Never let someone else’s perception of you become your reality, and never let a negative person ruin your drive to build a personal brand, and achieve your wildest goals and dreams. Anything I missed? How do you handle trolls? Light up the comments below with your thoughts.

Image Credit: Kevin Dooley

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