Trolling. A fishing term for trailing bait and hoping for a bite. In today’s world? The idea of trolls frequently conjures up ugly and distasteful online comments, often left by anonymous sources. These sources are looking for a bite as well, and an opportunity to engage.
When I think of the word troll? I think of the big ugly monster covered in warts and grumpy that sits under the bridge. Or in modern society – a mean bully behind a computer screen, eager to inflame, incite, and get under someone’s skin. So, what can you do about the modern-day troll? I’ve got six strategies to share:
- Don’t feed them. This is my favorite way to handle their nonsense. Don’t give them the attention they crave. Trolling is really only sport for people when they get the bite they are looking for. Without it? The troll becomes bored and goes away.
- Set policy and safeguards. If you have an organization that has an online presence and an opportunity for trolls to stumble across your “bridge” and bait your team, set a standard policy in place for how to handle it and let every team member understand that policy. Your blog and online forums can also be locked so that comments need approval before going “live”. Or shut down commentary altogether on your site. A Psychology Today article on the topic shared, “Reuters, Popular Science, ESPN, Huffington Post, The Week, USA Today, The Chicago Sun-Times, and National Public Radio have eliminated reader commentary in the past few years, in favor of moving commentaries to platforms like Facebook and Twitter where users are less anonymous and more accountable for their words.
- Use your principles as a guide. A self-proclaimed “former troll”, Paul Jun, shared this in an enlightened post, “The reason why abiding to principles is so helpful is because they tell us how to act. ‘Do this, not this.’ It focuses on the long-term outcome, whereas acting on our impulses creates many possible—and unfavorable—results. If there is one thing I learned both in psychology and philosophy, it’s this: No one can hurt you. It is what we tell ourselves about the specific event or person that creates the feeling. In the words of Marcus Aurelius, ‘It can ruin your life only if it ruins your character. Otherwise trolls cannot harm you — inside or out.’
- Create a community. When you’ve got a great name and reputation going for yourself and your business, and you’ve got the support of the community members around you – they’ll help take care of the problem. It’s wonderful to see those stories that come out where communities rise up in defense of someone who has taken an online hit.
- Laugh. Consider the source and keep your sense of humor. The bottom line is that bullies are often attention seekers who have too much time on their hands and too much ill will in their lives. As long as you have systems in place to protect your reputation and shut down unprovoked and unkind commentary and you know that your integrity and character are above reproach? Just laugh it off and walk away. Take the high road and leave them to their low one.
- Make corrections. Sometimes, commentary is based in a legitimate complaint or issue. If that’s the case, take the advice of renowned author, speaker and TV personality Jeffrey Hayzlett, who said in an interview for Forbes, “Let the person who wrote the complaint know you have corrected an error and explain what you did. Most times you’ll never hear from the person again, but I can guarantee the individual will appreciate that he heard directly from a company representative and didn’t have to navigate an endless phone tree.” Everyone makes mistakes. Every company can find areas of improvement. If someone points something out, and it’s a concern – fix it, and move on.
In a world that sometimes hosts trolls and bullies of both the cyber variety and in real life (that’s IRL in troll-speak), it’s good to pay attention to what matters. Your word. Your reality. Your integrity. Your character. What someone says to bait a person for bullying purposes is almost always not based in reality. Protect your reputation – but let those words roll off. In the end, they are not worth your valuable ATTENTION.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Find me on Facebook and share your experience with managing trolls. If you’d like to learn more about paying attention to what really DOES matter and how that can dramatically increase your bottom line, contact me today to see how I can help your organization.