Today I found a great article on how to deal with "critical people" on Celestine Chua's "Personal Excellence" blog. In the forum world, we call those critical people: trolls.
So let's see how Celestine's rules can be adapted for use in the world of forums! Be sure to check out her article.
1. Troll Attacks are Not Personal
When a person earns the label "troll", that's a badge of dishonor for them, an ugly component of their personality. Remember that their nasty barbs are hurled at everyone they interact with online. It's not personal to you. Everyone gets the same sludgy style messages. Browse some of the other topics they've posted in and you'll see a clear pattern of negativity. So step 1 is realizing that whatever they say most likely wasn't your fault. You just found yourself in the line of fire. If it wasn't you, it would have been someone else.
2. Objectify Like a Robot
If the troll raises your blood pressure, it's because they stirred your emotions before you realized who and what you were dealing with. Celestine says to "objectify the comments" of critical people. One way to do that is to imagine that you are a robot with no sci-fi "emotions" chip. How would you respond if you were a robot who absolutely could not get upset, and could evaluate the situation to determine the best course of action? Somewhere inside of the nonsense they seem to be spewing, there may be an underlying message of some value. In rare cases, it may be something constructive you can use. In other cases, it may simply allow you to determine where their hostility is coming from and better equip you to shut them out (or down). A robot would ignore all of the hostility, and drill down to the root of their message, and then go from there. Don't let them control your emotions and you are well on your way to shutting down the troll.
3. Ugly Feedback is Still Feedback
You probably did not ask for the troll's opinion, but they splashed it all over your topic anyway. Find out if it's complete nonsense or may actually contain some feedback you can act on. If you objectify it, and the message is something you can value from, it doesn't really matter if they deliver the comment nicely or trollishly. Your inner robot can extract the absolute value of what they have to say. The trolls really will be discouraged when they see this happen. They couldn't upset you, and yet you actually found some good in what they spit up.
4. If They Strike a Nerve, What's Up With That?
If something the troll says really seems to bother you, find out why. They may have hit on an area where you have some things to deal with. While we are not going to let the troll take over, we can still take the opportunity to reflect on something unsettling within us. The troll may have focused our attention on it, but that's all they get. If you want to act on anything, that's something you have the flexibility of doing on your own time. You don't owe them any response or explanation.
5. Don't Test the Stink of the Troll's Breath
If you have trouble biting your tongue or get upset too easily when interacting with a troll, then do your best to avoid those situations. Trolls have stinky breath. It's better to have them keep their mouths shut. Lack of interest or response will help zip up the trolls lips or move them on to another would be victim (one whom should have a copy of these steps for some troll-free bedtime reading). Remember: If you bait a troll, they'll take it. Make sure you're really prepared for the stinkiness they'll bring.
6. Ignore Thy Trolls
Trolls don't like to shut up. If you respond to them, you can expect a response and that cycle will continue. Unless you're firmly in control, a long exchange is more likely to fulfill the troll's goals than it is yours. If you want to take control, put them on ignore. Trolls are counter punchers. They love your reactions. They wither away when they have to wait for your comebacks. Don't feed them. When you do respond, do so to their root message that we extracted back in step 2 (when you were in robot mode) and ignore the ugly stuff.
7. Give the Troll a Big Hug
If you want to see a troll thrown off guard, show them kindness. Treat them with respect, even when they showed absolutely none for you. They expect you to attack them back. In their mind, they've grouped you into the category of enemy. When you are unaffected by all of their nasty magic spells, they realize you are a more powerful wizard. How could you possibly be abused by them and still show them respect, kindness, and respond to the root of their issue? They'll ask themselves the same question as they fall under your spell. Celestine advises to stick with it, as it may take them awhile to come around, but they'll eventually become more positive as long as you don't abort mission. If you have trouble being kind to a troll, imagine your kindness is directed not at who they are now, but what they might become once you lead them into a less trollish place.
8. Don't Go to Troll Parties
With steps 1-7, you have some great strategies on how to neutralize them. However, some of them are more resistant than others. Likewise, you may not always feel like wasting your time giving free troll psychotherapy. If you are a forum owner or moderator, you may not have much choice but to go in and tranquilize them. However, if you are just a forum member, you do have the choice of skipping their troll parties. If they heat up a topic with their nastiness, you don't have to jump in. They may find some other victims, but you don't have to be one. Let the echoes of their own voice in an empty room slap them in their troll faces!
That concludes our 8 adapted tips, which we'll lovingly call troll bane. Special thanks to Celestine Chua for her great article on dealing with critical people. While we've given it a touch of the parody treatment, there are some very valuable strategies here that will help make your forum experience more fun, and less infused with troll stinkiness.
8 Ways to Deal with Forum Trolls
What do you think? Post a reply!Please login to post here. If you do not have an account yet, please register.