Oh, Internet, je t’aime. Except when you’re a dick or rather, when you’re full of trolls. (I hear there’s a cream for that now.)
As you grow bigger and your business prospers, undeniably there will be people who are unhappy after working with you. Not because you did anything wrong but because they’re haters.* They’re unhappy people and no matter how much you give, bend, help, discount, hold their hand, they’re never going to be satisfied. If you’re popular enough, they take it to the streets to put you in the spotlight and bash you. (Yayyyy. </sarcasm>)
Here’s how to handle the potential PR quicksand of the irate and insane:
1. Don’t take it personally even when they make it personal.
Crazy people are … crazy… irrational… assholes. The turducken of insanity. Never take what they say personally nor take it as a valid viewpoint. They’re going to attack you and try to make you feel bad.
2. If they take it public, don’t stress.
Some of them decide the world needs to know their all-important view and they might get cronies bashing you in front of other people. Don’t engage.
3. Be super nice publicly.
Even though there’s a rabid frenzy happening in front of you, the sane people (the ones you wanna work with) are watching how you handle this. Make it good. Be logical, clear, compassionate and use “I” statements.
Por ejemplo: Hey! I’m so glad to see you have a support system here. I totally understand and wished we could have completed our project together but, per our contract and multiple reminder emails, after 8 weeks of radio silence, I couldn’t afford to wait any longer and had to take on new clients. All the best. **
4. Get the marshmallows ready.
Inevitably this will stir up the fire again. Unfollow the discussion/don’t check in with it. The point isn’t to continue talking to them but to politely say your piece and go away.
5. Prepare for clients.
When you show that you’re kind, rational, and well-intentioned, the sane peeps watching the crazy show will tip their hat in respect and hire you.
6. Check off the “no such thing as bad PR” experience on your bucket list.
It’s going to pay off. Being classy even when other people aren’t? Instant biz-boner.
* Peeps with valid concerns, requests, and feedback should always be treated with respect. Always assume that people are sane first and then once proven otherwise follow these rules. Ok? Generally people are good. They might need some understanding + help communicating though.
** Make sure to update your policies and send out reminders to avoid weird expectations in the future, ok? If in the contract clients are responsible for scheduling their sessions, still send out a courtesy email reminding them of that fact since they’re human and probably not good with details.
What have your experiences been with internet trolls?