Two people sent me similar ideas for a post in less than 24 hours. That’s unusual – though much welcomed!
They asked me to look at other people’s contributions to us, and how to handle ourselves when that other person is offering varied, different and perhaps even difficult or WRONG advice. (If you have read this blog, or taken classes with me, you’ll know I’m not one to say people are wrong all that often – the world has gotten a lot more shaded and a lot less absolute black and white as I have grown up – but sometimes people really do make me shake my head!)
Not everyone is going to agree with you. And. Guess what? That’s ok. They may be forgetting that mnemonic THINK and posting or commenting when they shouldn’t. So be it. If you share something expect there to be comments. As long as the comments aren’t hateful do your part to remember it’s not personal and let them go.
It’s OK to Hit Delete
If they are hateful or upset you go ahead and delete the comment if it’s in “your space”. Deleting feels wrong to some people but it truly can be an effective tool to managing your stress and angst. There are likely times you might want to tell the person you have hit delete but many many more times it’s fine to just delete and move on. If they want to know where the comment was they can ask! You can be clear, kind and concise in your response. If you don’t want to discuss whatever – don’t.
Having trouble imagining what I mean? Let’s pretend that someone posted “this blog sucks” when I shared it to my own personal page. (I’d deal with this differently on a public page – so stay tuned) If that made me feel badly I would delete the comment (I am pretty sure that comment would be taken on pretty quickly by many of you as well- for which I am very grateful!).
Imagine the person who posted it decided to message me “Hey – did you delete my really important post about your blog?”. My response would be “Yes. I did. I didn’t find it was adding to the discussion on my wall and it was distressing to me.” Clear. Kind. Brief and to the point. I would not engage in further conversation except to graciously accept an apology.
If a similar comment was posted on a public page I would finish listening to the Training Trolls podcast and use the comment as an opportunity to be mature, engaged and thoughtful. Once. Or perhaps twice. If the comment were vile? It would be deleted.
If you don’t want to hear a perspective that may be different from yours consider if you want to share in the first place. If you are venting and really really need to say whatever tell people that is exactly what you are doing. No Advice Needed should be a thing (even though some people will still offer it).
When people insist on giving unoffered advice, it is absolutely fine to be a strong self advocate and say “This is not a subject we should be discussing”. or “I didn’t ask for advice so can we move on?” The challenge then of course is to stop reviewing, or negotiating the matter. The conversation is finished.
The other person may not believe you and attempt to re engage you. DO NOT fall for it – or it all starts up again. People may get quite defensive, or decide they have to convince you of their expertise. Their choice, carry on ignoring or changing the topic. It’s hard enough to control our own thinking – managing other’s thoughts is not possible (or necessary or helpful in the long run). Whatever their hang up is – it’s theirs not yours! It’s NOT personal.
When you find unwanted advice shared particularly damaging or distressing you may need to be even more direct. But consider carefully why you are engaging in a discussion. In many many cases the real audience you are working to reach is not the individual who made the harmful comment but those in range of hearing it. Knowing that can help guide you and create a more positive mental space to be less defensive or harsh with the commenter.
Just the facts
Sometimes people state things as if they were fact that are not true. Patent lies. Sigh. As always you need to weigh the consequences of walking away versus saying something. I knew someone once who lied about nearly everything. Literally. If it was a sunny clear day they’d tell you it was cloudy. If it was raining you might hear it was sunny. It was very odd but I am grateful for that experience as it certainly drove home the fact that there simply are battles not worth having.
If on balance you decide you need to address the lies there are a few critical steps that will help you through the process.
First check that it really is a lie. Is it possible that there is another study, expert or information out there that is in direct opposition to what you know as truth? Truth can be more ephemeral than we realize. The mistruth may be misinformation rather than a deliberate lie.
Then consider if calling them on it is a smart strategy. If there is a detrimental impact on your reputation or clientele it might be important to speak up. Even if difficult.
Plan and maintain a polite approach. Ask when would be a good time for a tough conversation; don’t leap to judgement in your opening statement. “I have heard … ” “Did you realize …” ” I know that …” may be useful. Focus on being the person you would want to have a tough conversation with.
Stay calm. Particularly if you are feeling wounded by the lie or are a victim of it in some way this can be really hard. It’s so so important though. If you feel things getting hot exit gracefully – even if you end up returning to the topic. You have better ways to spend your energy (like training or playing with your dog or horse!)
Address the behaviour not the person. Not easy but it’s the lie that you are upset with not the person – though that line can feel very blurry at times.
Be Firm. Be Clear. Be Kind. Use active listening skills and work to understand the other position. Whatever you can glean from this conversation will help you another time.
Understand. Reflect on what your reaction to the negative comment is rooted in. Why did this upset you? Most people are honest. Most people want to be a good person. Then move on. This issue isn’t yours. It’s the other person’s. You do not need to get hung up in anyone else’s baggage.
With all of these situations go ahead and lean on the support network you have. If the struggles are on social media find yourself a nice low stress group to hang out in. Walk away from the keyboard and take some time for you. Self care afterwards can help too. You are human. You can only do the best you can do.