The Pursuit of Online Entrepreneurship
Podcast Episode 038 – How to Stop Caring What Others Think
How to Stop Caring What Others Think
WARNING: if you’re serious about building a successful business online, you’ll have to learn how to handle the haters and the trolls that are going to come for you.
It’s one of the few ugly realities of doing business (or existing in any capacity) online. No matter how well you’re doing, no matter how focused you are on serving and meeting the needs of your audience, the truth is that there have always been mean people out there, and there always will be at least a few.
If you’ve been part of this community long, you may have heard me talk about my childhood in El Salvador a few times. Though I was born in San Francisco, my family moved to Central America shortly after my birth and stayed there until I was 11 years old. Then, we moved back to San Francisco, where my brother and I were enrolled in school and expected to learn all about life in our new country.
Despite the fact that we had attended an English school in El Salvador, I didn’t actually know much English—or at least, not well enough to communicate fluently with the other kids and teachers at my school. I looked different than anyone in my class, and I was the new girl.
It’s probably no surprise to you, given all that information, that people weren’t always nice to me. I definitely encountered my share of mean girls who said extremely hurtful things to me.
But slowly, I started to gain confidence. I watched shows like Sesame Street and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood to work on my English. I made friends with some really wonderful kids in my school—many of which are still my close friends today. And perhaps most importantly, I learned not to care so much what a few mean people thought about me.
Flash forward to today: Social media has made it easier than ever for trolls to be nasty for no good reason. If you put yourself out there on the internet, it’s only a matter of time before someone says something rude, mean, or thoughtless to you.
When that happens, I want you to have the skills you need to shake it off and keep moving ahead. So without further ado, here’s my best advice on dealing with internet trolls, haters, and others who will try to stand in your way as you grow your online business.
Things to Keep in Mind When Dealing With Mean People Online
1. It’s About Them, Not You.
A key step in realizing that these mean remarks don’t matter is realizing who these people hiding behind their online personas are. In almost every case, an online bully is likely to be one of the following:
- 12-year-old boys who think they’re funny
- Bored people with NOTHING better to do than criticize people who are actually productive
- Cowards hiding behind a monitor
- Lonely folks
- Jealous folks
- People who feel self-conscious about their lack of ambition
- People who want to piggyback on your success
When I first took to the online space, people commented many not-funny, odd, weird, and mean comments on my posts. They said mean things about what I was wearing or the topics I chose to speak on. They said I wore too much makeup, commented on the size of my chest and my hair, critiqued the books in the background of my videos . . . and the list goes on. I had to reach back for that strength and resiliency I developed as a little girl and remember: the mean comments didn’t matter. Not only that, but they were far outnumbered by positive comments.
Internet trolls are mean because they’re bored, lonely, and the internet makes it easy for them to lash out behind the anonymity of a monitor. They see the world through a negative lens, and they can’t stand to see other people happy and succeeding. Their words don’t matter, so don’t let them get to you.
2. Stay true to yourself.
Easier said than done. When you’re showing up online for the first time, you feel vulnerable. But you have to remember—you’re here to build your business and create a life you love. So no matter what anyone else says, you must stay true to yourself, your dreams, and your vision.
3. Trust a few opinions, and forget the rest.
The online business community is full of amazing, intelligent, helpful people. I’m so fortunate to have a great circle of friends who are also my trusted advisors. I count on them to offer honest opinions and perspective without EVER being cruel.
Find these people in your life. There will be times when you need constructive criticism, so figure out who you can trust to provide that . . . and ignore everyone else. Knowing you have a few trusted peers who have your best interest at heart makes it easier to block out the noise created by online trolls.
4. You’re not everyone’s cup of tea, and there’s nothing you can do about that.
At the end of the day, no matter how well you’re doing, you have to understand . . . Some people aren’t going to like you. That’s a reality you need to understand and embrace. STOP wasting your time trying to get everyone to love you and what you’re doing, because it’s not gonna happen.
Instead of wasting your time trying to win over people who just aren’t into what you’re doing, focus on showing up and being fully present for the people who think you’re awesome. Connect with them. Figure out how you can best serve them. And perhaps most importantly, be authentic with them—you want them to like you for who you are, not some made up version of yourself.
I hope that after reading these tips and listening to this podcast episode, you’ll have a clearer idea of who deserves your time, focus, and energy . . . and which people truly don’t.
It’s not easy to stop caring what people (yes, even internet strangers) think of you, but the sooner you can let go of their negativity, the better off you’ll be. It takes time, but with practice, you’ll build up some resiliency and maybe even find some compassion for them; after all, most of these people are sad, lonely, bitter, and taking all those emotions out on you for no good reason. Compassionate or not though, don’t ever feel bad deleting their mean comments and getting on with your day. You don’t owe them a response.
If the trolls ever do start to get under your skin, ask yourself: Which is worse? Would you rather deal with rude and unwelcome comments as you build your business? Or would you rather stay offline/away from the trolls, at the expense of not fully showing up for your audience?
Finally, I want to leave you a simple thought about how we can all make the internet a nicer, safer place. If you find yourself judging or gossiping, please stop. Catch yourself and refocus your attention on leading by example.
Do you have any tips for dealing with internet meanies? Or for being self-aware and spreading kindness online? I’d love to hear all about it, so please leave me a comment below!
Thanks so much for showing up for me, for yourself, and for your business this week. Be sure to come back next week for even more advice about living your best life as an online entrepreneur!
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