Don’t Feed The Internet Trolls

By on June 2, 2015

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A new lesson I’m learning in interacting with people is this: Reward the givers, not the haters.

The people pleaser in me wants to chase down every angry customer, every dissatisfied reader, every failed friendship, and try to make it right. But that’s not the best use of my time.

It also send a terrible message to the world. It says, “If you hate me, I will love you.” And the converse (“If you love me, I’ll ignore you”), by implication, is also true.

That just seems wrong, doesn’t it?

How I learned this recently

I was just cruising my reviews on Amazon the other day (thanks to the hundreds of you who have left an honest review of The Art of Work — it’s truly humbling), and I came across this one:

Screenshot 2015-05-14 09.33.26

So I reached out to Melinda on Twitter and thanked her. And honestly, that’s a discipline for me. It doesn’t come naturally, but I want it to. I spend most of my time reaching out to people who want to argue, fight, or call me names. And this is not healthy.

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Honestly, when I am skimming my reviews, I’m looking for people who didn’t “get” the book and then trying to convince them that I’m a good guy.

I reply to these reviews, sometimes seek out these critics on Twitter just to let them know that I’m someone worth loving. It’s ridiculous when I write those words and read them, but that’s how I feel when I’m doing this. It’s not healthy.

Not too long ago, I replied to a one-star review of my book and offered a refund to that person (as is my practice), and he sent me an email saying something that surprised me:

I had no idea authors read their reviews… If I knew you were listening, I would have been nicer.

Wow. I appreciate the honesty, but isn’t that indictment of society today? I would have been nicer to you, if I knew you’d hear what I was saying. This is not the kind of world that I want to be a part of.

So what’s the solution? Reward the givers, ignore the haters. Don’t feed the trolls. You’ve heard this stuff before. So have I. So why do we ignore it? Because it’s easier to argue than it is to appreciate

Give your best stuff, including your attention, to the people who appreciate it. And just say “thanks” to those who are unkind. Or better yet: ignore them and keep doing work worth criticizing.

When you stop feeding the trolls

When you reward the givers you:

  • reinforce positive feedback from your tribe
  • foster healthier relationships with people
  • focus on the people who appreciate your work (which makes your next effort even better)

I want to spend more time with the Melindas of the world — the people who get what I’m trying to do and appreciate it.

That’s not to say I want to insulate myself completely from criticism. Quite the opposite, in fact. But I do want to have healthier relationships, greater self-confidence, and more feedback from the people I am trying to reach (which is not everyone).

So that’s your assignment: reward the givers in your life and try to ignore the haters.

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This post by Jeff Goins originally  appeared with the title of Reward the Givers, Not the Haters at

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