When I launched my online business I didn’t consider the implications of putting myself out there for the world to see. I certainly never considered people not liking what I was doing and being the victim of cyber-bullying or unprovoked negative comments.
A while back I was busy running a training session and in the break I checked my email and was happy to see a contact via my website. I read the email only to receive a barrage of negative comments including an attack about the name I had chosen for my business from a man named Bob. I was quite shocked and hurt at this unnecessary communication from someone I had never met. I thought, “What gives him the right to attack me like this?”
After stepping back and considering the value of his comments, I responded to his message politely. He then replied with even more negativity. I came to the conclusion that this person was not worth my energy. He was not a member of my target market and clearly had nothing better to do with his time than belittle others.
I must admit, though, it shook me up. It got me thinking about how vulnerable having a website and social media profiles leaves businesses and their owners to feedback of all kinds. Business owners have very little control over who likes or follows you and what comments people may make about your business in public or in private.
I was lucky that the day I received Bob’s email, I also received another email from a client seeking out my coaching services. I was able to focus on the positives of the day instead of the negatives.
This is not the first unsettling contact I’ve received. I’ve also received offensive spam threatening to hack my website if I reported the sender.
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There are measures you can put in place to protect yourself from communications such as these, including:
- Setting your website or blog up so that comments must be approved by the administrator before being public;
- Blocking a Facebook liker if they become abusive (however, the damage to your reputation may have already been done);
- Paying for website spam protectors such as Askimet (this has eliminated the time spent dealing with spam); and
- Not revealing your email address or personal details online and instead using a website contact form.
It is a sad fact of the online world that most business owners will be exposed to cyber bullying at some stage. This type of negative contact can really undermine your confidence, scare you or even make you want to shut up shop.
It is really important you don’t let any such contact make you feel it’s not worth continuing. Emotional resilience – the ability to draw on your own personal strength to cope with stress – is critical.
My tips for dealing with cyber bullying or negativity regarding your online presence are:
- Implement the privacy and security mechanisms detailed above;
- Believe in yourself and on the good work you are doing;
- Rather than focusing on one or two negative comments, focus instead on your many supporters, fans, clients or customers;
- Maintain positive and optimistic about the future and don’t let one or two negative comments beat you;
- When you receive a negative comment take some time to take a step back and ask yourself:
– What is their key point?
– Is there any value to their opinion or anything I can learn from it?
– Is it worth replying or will it inflame the situation (not responding to them might be the most effective action)?
– Should I delete their comment (if made publicly)?
– Is this worth my energy or should I just ignore it?
Click here for more tips on responding to cyber bullying or negative feedback online.
Have you encountered cyber bullying or any negativity from the online world? If so, how did you deal with it?