You have haters. Some had a problem with your product. Some had a problem with your people. But almost all of them can like you – or maybe even love – you again.
It’s all in how you handle their situations.
Where you’ll find them
You might think of today’s haters as the outspoken social media posters who hide behind their keyboards, dishing out criticism.
But many haters still call, complaining about what’s gone wrong and threatening to leave, while telling everyone they know about the bad experience they just had.
Other haters will talk negative to their friends, family and colleagues about their experiences, but never tell you and give you the chance to rebound. (Note: They’re the hardest to handle because you may never know about them.)
And there are the haters who take to social media. Their fight is public and potentially damning, but your resolution can be equally powerful in a positive way.
Here are four ways to handle the haters:
1. Engage them
Sometimes negative comments don’t come from outright haters who just want to squawk. Some criticism comes from credible critics who have valuable feedback. They’re pointing out mistakes or oversights because they want you to do better.
You can find the difference between haters and critics — and gather some good information — if you engage with them. Danny Iny, author of Teach and Grow Rich: The Emerging Opportunity for Global Impact, Freedom and Wealth, suggests these steps:
- Validate their efforts. Tell them you appreciate the time and effort they took to give you the opportunity to solve the issue.
- Focus on the positive intent. By assuming the critic wants to help you improve, and not just criticize, you can work with their comments more comfortably.
- Act. Resolve the issue. Make the change they suggest. Tell them how their ideas will impact what happens next. Give them a timeline for a solution if you can’t act on the criticism immediately.
- Show your appreciation. Once you’ve addressed the concern, remind critics that you will continue to value the relationship and hope that they will, too.
Some haters and their rants aren’t worth your efforts to make things right. If they hide behind anonymity or their messages are profane and senseless, they’re likely just trying to stir up controversy, rather than solve a real issue.
The best response is to do nothing if they won’t genuinely engage.
Some haters are people who feel best when they’re hating on something. They’re tough to deal with, but not impossible.
If a hater is spreading unsubstantiated, defamatory stories or downright mean lies about your company, then you’ll likely have to handle it more like a crisis.
That means trying to:
- Offer help. If it’s criticism in social media, reach out and offer to take the sensitive issue offline. Give the hater an alternative to resolving the complaint — a phone call or an email to pound out details.
- Stick to the facts. Acknowledge and answer to the facts the hater has. Share the facts you have and back up your statements and suggestions on what to do with data and documentation.
- Maintain control. If a hater uses offensive language, screams or shames you, end the contact. Suggest to pick things back up when you both can try to resolve the situation professionally.
Once some haters have an ear, they’ll want a bigger one (a supervisor, CEO or supreme being!). Let them know that you have all of those people’s support and the authority to work out things. Many will agree to go forward under those circumstances. For those that aren’t agreeable, send them to the person or people who handle issues that need to be escalated.
Document everything you can, too: names, usernames, account history, email addresses, messages, etc.
Also, very few — if any — hating incidents might have to be escalated outside your company walls. Some situations degenerate into crimes such as hacking and/or harassment. If it happens, alert authorities and website administrators (if it’s online).