How Successful Leaders Respond to Haters

If you stand for something, you will have someone hate you for it. Whether it’s politics, religion, or business, you’re bound to gain a few haters.

Haters mess with your head. They can cause you question your business, and even your sanity. They can make you feel like you’re the biggest idiot and you should just go walk off a cliff. At least that’s how I initially felt after receiving a message from my first hater.

First, let me set the stage. I write for a large media site called Pharmacy Times. I wrote about 10 reasons why Pharmacists have great jobs. Forbes had recently named pharmacy amongst the best, so I thought it would be appropriate to expound on why pharmacists have it so well off. Well, let’s just say many pharmacists disagreed with both Forbes and me.

My article went (slightly) viral in pharmacy groups. I received many hateful comments like,

“This kid doesn’t know anything.”

“How could Pharmacy Times allow such an awful writer to publish this garbage?”

But one pharmacist took her anger to the next level. She went to my Facebook Fan page to tell me exactly how she felt.

“I read your article in Pharmacy Times. You haven’t got a clue about pharmacy. Until you work it for 10 years, move out of your parent’s house and start to shave, save your opinions.”

Whoa. A wave of anxiety and excitement overtook me.

I think her response could cause anxiety or anger in any new writer. But why was I excited?

My medical training taught me to love the show House and Gregory House MD said it best, If nobody hates you, you’re doing it wrong.”

I stood up for a belief, and people hated me for it.
What’s interesting is that this woman is a pharmacist who hates her own job. Weird.

But how should I respond to this hater?

Run and hide? Ignore? Respond? And if I respond, what would I say?

Before I make a decision on a subject I’m inexperienced, I glean the wisdom of those who are more successful than I am.

Let’s take one option: Ignore them.

Derek Halpern of Social Triggers made a great video about what to do with haters. My favorite part of Derek’s advice, “Screw them. There is more than 7 billion people in this world… and if 10 of them don’t like you, ignore them.”


Albert Einstein agrees with Derek.

Madam Curie, or Marie Curie, was about to receive a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 19XX.

However, at the time she was romantically involved with another scientist, who was separated from his wife yet still married. The media covered this story and slammed her as a home wrecker. After returning from a conference in Brussels where she met Albert Einstein, she was met with an angry mob at her home, terrifying her two daughters (7 and 14 years old). Later, she received an encouraging letter from the German scientist.

Respond with Class

There will be times that you can’t ignore them. There will be times that you can’t ignore them. You will want to defend your pride and your integrity.

Take my virtual mentor and social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk. He responds to every hateful review on his NYC Best Seller books

Here’s one example of Gary’s responses on Amazon’s Crush It!

Did I respond to my hater? I really wanted to say:

“You need to wake up. If you hate your job, then change it. You’re responsible for your own life and pursuit of happiness. If you hate being a pharmacist, then get into a new job so that you’re not so toxic about your own profession. If you can’t say anything nice, then stay silent. If you speak up here again, then you will be banned from my page and your toxicity will stay with you, where it belongs.”

But I didn’t say that. Oh, how I wanted to. But I decided to slow down, and think about how to respond to such a toxic comment. She attacked my age and inexperience.

So what did I do? Run or respond?

After an hour of contemplation and sharing it with my business friends, here was my response:

“Thanks for reading the article and stopping by

I’m sad that you don’t agree, and you think that I’m too young (and too hairy! I won’t deny that I haven’t shaved in a few days, my wife likes me a little gruff 😀 ).

Not sure if you’re a pharmacist, but I hope you have a job that’s satisfying”

Who are your haters really mad at? My mom said it best when I was bullied in grade school, “People are mean to you because they’re mean to themselves.”

Remember, haters are likely miserable people who have very little positive influence in their lives. Because of this, have sympathy–rather than anger–for your haters. If you decide to respond to them, show the utmost class and respect. They are likely having a bad day. This is your chance to be remarkable like Gary V–offer a refund, go the extra mile! This will help you stand out from the rest. You never know–help out a hater and you might just turn them into a fan.

About the Author Alex Barker