“If you buy someone’s opinion, you buy their lifestyle.”
It’s not uncommon to receive advice from people who shouldn’t be giving it. Add a keyboard and some anonymity into that mix and you get ‘The Internet Troll’.
My favorite was the post-graduation advice was from a college professor over coffee stating, “you can’t do marketing, you don’t have a degree in marketing.”
As the saying goes, “Those who can’t succeed in business — teach. Those who can’t teach — teach gym.” This ideal has been my biggest driver to “model” more than I teach. It’s more energizing to show you what I’ve done than what I’m doing.
The question becomes, how do you deal with trolls and other false advisors?
I’m going to show you my dirty tactics for deflecting attacks and deflating aggressors all the while looking like the noble hero of the conversation to all those listening.
Tactic #1 — Position yourself behind the aggressor
It’s impossible to disagree with someone 100%. For example, I’m Jewish and ISIS would want to kill me, but I can still (genuinely) say something like “I appreciate the passion you have for your cause.” By finding the one thing you appreciate about the aggressor or their statements you effectively put yourself on their side and can carry the conversation forward as a friend. Here’s a recent example of a conversation where I took a critic and turned them into a supporter using this tactic.
Tactic #2 — Rob their fire of its fuel and oxygen
With a moment of pause for evaluation and a bit of practice, it becomes clear who is present in conversation to discuss and who is present to argue. When dealing with the latter it’s important to recognize that “winning” is impossible regardless of the strength of your logic or proof. In these instances, deflating the aggressor saves time and increases the value of your brand/message with an element of maturity.
You can deflate an aggressor by responding to their comments with tangible facts that, while often boring, do not offer them a platform to respond. It’s like taking a knee in football — it ends the play. You can see this in a recent Reddit dialog where I recapped the articles they were speaking of and declined to offer my perspectives beyond that — they never responded. Alternatively, the same was done with a cheeky comment that deflected the attack and entertained the audience.
The goal here is to afford them an opportunity to gracefully bow out as attempting to carry on a dialogue after these statements is like beating a wounded orphan seal. If you do it right, no one is going to take the side of the person with the club — not even those with pitchforks and torches. They either bow out or become ostracized.
Tactic #3 — Deflate the conversation entirely
Sometimes, with true tolls, this is not enough. You have to pull the fire alarm, trigger the sprinklers, and make it impossible for them to move forward. You can do this with very strategic statements. As much as I love these — they should be used sparingly.
- I admire your boldness
- I appreciate your feedback
- Thank you for such a unique perspective
Whether you’re managing engagement in Facebook comments, having discussions on Reddit, or just trying to quash an uncomfortable conversation with an opinionated relative — use these tactics. If they put up their fists, you hold out your arms.
What’s your best/worst experience dealing with an aggressor online?