Why does it often feel like whenever we have good news to share with others, there’s always that one person (or several people) in our lives who somehow manage to snuff all the goodness right out of it?
Sometimes it can feel easier to simply not share exciting news for fear of someone waiting in the wings, ready to clap back at you with a stinging remark or some other negativity.
So, how do we deal with haters that attempt to stamp out our “glow-ups“ when positive developments and changes come?
How do you harness - and maintain - an outfit of confidence so flawless that instead of haters attempting to bring you down, they’re tapping you on the shoulder asking how you got to where you are in your life?
Read on-- we’re sharing some tips on how to effectively tune out the jealous, negative voices in your life, whether it be from family, friends, co-workers or social media.
Haters are Here to Stay
Let’s be clear on one thing first: Haters aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
While many of the classic forms of bullying you may have experienced as a child or early teen were likely put to rest along with your bad hair days and questionable fashion (or other) choices, bullying and haters still exist well into adulthood.
The only difference is the way in which people bully as adults, which can look a bit different than it did back in junior high.
In a recent survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the American Osteopathic Association, results found that out of the 2,000 U.S. adults they surveyed, 31% confirmed that they had been bullied as adults. An even higher 43% said they felt that bullying has become more accepted this past year.
The online survey defined bullying as being subjected to repeated, negative behavior intended to harm or intimidate.
In our society, bullying or repeated exposure to haters is often regarded as something that we experience only in childhood and adolescence, and for this reason we often fail to identify being mistreated by fellow adults for what it really is: bullying incited by jealousy, anger, and other mental or emotional issues.
The neighbor who spreads gossipy rumours about you around town, the co-worker who always interrupts, talks over or tries to “best” you, or the family member who chooses the silent treatment instead of dealing with an issue with you head on-- these are all forms of bullying that can have lasting effects if we don’t acknowledge the behavior and learn how to deflect or deal with it.
How to Deal with Haters at Home
Home is where we go for rest and refuge, to recharge, where we seek comfort, safety, and love from the people who know us best.
It is for this reason that dealing with haters within the family can be particularly upsetting.
Additionally, because people in our families often do know us most intimately, they’re also privy to the things that can hurt us most.
Dr. Charles Sophy, a Los Angeles-based Psychiatrist who works with the LA Department of Children and Family Services explains that “behavior from adult bullies is more subtle and sophisticated than what a child might employ.”
Gaslighting, a bullying tactic in which the person makes a victim question their own reality, is common in family bullying, as it’s a practice done by slowly and subtly controlling the victim over time through small manipulations and actions.
When we’re exposed to this in our homes, it’s hard to detect when it’s happening until it gets really bad.
The scene is all too familiar: You’re sitting around the family dinner table, waiting for the perfect moment to share with everyone that you finally got that job you’ve been working so hard for, and your mom-- always the reliable critic-- responds with the classic “It’s about time. Really you should have gotten it a long while ago. You’ve been working below your potential for way too long.”
Her criticism is something you’ve probably experienced and grown accustomed to for years now. In many cases, subtle criticism from family members over long periods of time can dramatically skew how we perceive ourselves and our abilities.
The best way to fend off negative comments, whether they’re overt or extremely subtle is to make a choice, assert yourself, and establish boundaries.
When the stinging comments start to fly, you can choose to maintain composure and be respectful, instead of stooping to other's level of indecency.
It’s key that you also make it clear with the family member in question that you feel their behavior and hateful comments are inappropriate and cause pain within the relationship.
Having an open and honest conversation about how the family member makes you feel, even if things don’t start to change immediately, sets the premise that you deserve to be respected and appreciated for who you are.
Finally, if you’ve communicated how you feel but the hatefulness continues, it’s time to set some boundaries. It may be wise to limit your time spent with that family member, and, if you know they have a penchant for tearing you down, consider limiting the types of information you share with him or her about you and your life.
How to Deal with Haters at Work
Dealing with haters at work is another beast entirely.
If you’ve ever had a jealous or negative coworker in your life, the kind who seems to always secretly (or not so secretly) be in competition with you or the one who jumps at every opportunity to passive aggressively interact with you -- then you know what we’re talking about!
While we’d love to say that putting on your headphones and cranking up Rihanna’s discography will permanently block out all of your workplace haters, there’s a little more at play here to tuning out the negativity, though Rihanna does help. A lot.
Sandra Robinson, a University of British Columbia professor whose expertise is centered around workplace psychology, explains that the key to identifying haters and bullies in the workplace are those that exemplify a consistent pattern of abusive social behavior, rather than simply pulling a jerk move every once in a while.
In an interview with VICE, Dr. Robinson explains that when it comes to workplace haters and bullies, there’s no one-size-fits-all remedy to solving the issue, mostly because there are a number of factors that can affect your position at the company, and the hater in question might be in a vastly different position and place of power than you.
The first way to deal with a hater at work is to document everything that happens between you and the bully.
This is easy to do and not a risk for your job.
Write down what the person said or their behavior, when it happened, and if others were around so that you have a consistent trail of abuse documented.
The next step is the most necessary, but most difficult to do. If you’re tired of feeling like the target of their anger, jealousy, and negativity, you need to confront the person.
Share with them all of the specific instances in which you suffered or were harmed by their words and actions, and explain to him or her that it’s oppressive, problematic or making it difficult for you to do your job.
Finally, if you’ve done all you can to block them out (and their petty negativity that somehow finds you even 6 cubicles over), it might be time to get someone else involved.
It’s not always comfortable or easy to go to someone with more power than both you and the offending coworker to help amend the issue, but it’s better than letting the situation go on unchecked.
Similar to limiting time with negative family members, you might need to ask your supervisor if you can be assigned to projects that minimize the time spent with the person who is causing you difficulty.
If that’s literally not an option because you’re in a lab with one other partner working tirelessly to find a real, permanent way to get rid of cellulite (we like to think our readers work in prestigious labs and if you have the answer to the cellulite thing, TELL US NOW), then our best advice is to be as kind and respectful as the circumstances allow, be assertive and aim to focus on the work instead of their neggy comments.
Dealing with Haters on Social Media
The latest avenue through which haters can spew negativity into your life and the lives of virtually anyone else in the view of their computer or smart phone is online and on social media. *Deep sigh*
Instagram trolling, heated Facebook arguments, name-calling on forums... Haters online are everywhere, and what’s worse is that many of them may not even know you, at least not personally.
This type of harassment has been aptly titled “cyberbullying” and much like regular, IRL bullying, we tend to think it’s localized mostly to teens and young people.
Unfortunately, people aggressively punching mean tweets and Instagram comments into their keyboards aren’t just bratty junior high girls.
There are tons of “full-grown” adults out there waiting for the first opportunity to comment negatively, to judge other people whose lives and situations they don't know, or to lable or categorize people based on things they think they know.
Why? Ignorance, envy, immaturity, closed-mindedness, jealousy and any number of other reasons.
Regardless, their words can still be hurtful or troubling. But you’re on a path that celebrates your uniqueness and worth, and learning how to ignore hateful, mean or negligible comments is key to getting in that untouchable, Beyonce-post-cheating-scandal zone.
Cybersmile, an online bullying advice site, explains that adults can be far more adept at hiding their online identity-- and far more malicious and sophisticated in the way they use technology to harm others.
First, it’s important that you keep record of any comments a hater is trolling you with.
Screenshot them or write them down, because you know what we’re going to recommend next: Confront the hater!
While (as we stated previously) this may not be easy or comfortable for you, there’s almost certainly a deeper issue at hand for the person spewing comments. Sometimes a transparent conversation about how their actions are affecting you can lead to some type of resolution, or at least get the hater’s negativity out of your life once you address the situation head-on.
If that doesn’t work and the problem persists, go ahead and block them! There’s no use fighting someone online, especially when you know you won’t be able to have a heartfelt, in-person conversation with him or her, so it might be time to gear up your finger and hit that “Block” button.
Rise Above, and When You Can’t - Cut ‘em Out
The point of learning how to deal with haters, or calling out haters and bullies isn’t necessarily to have them see the error of their ways. It’s for you to know that you did your part in the greater work of your own self-improvement.
There’s no shame in limiting access to you and your life, or cutting people out of your life entirely that only contribute negativity to it.
If you’re on a path that celebrates who you are and where you’re going, staying on it is the most important thing you can do for yourself.
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Kimberly Clay is the founder and creative force behind What She Say. She’s a business professional, writer and editor who’s been creating and managing digital content for nearly twenty years. Her work is now focused in the areas of self-improvement and personal development, and she is passionate about helping other individuals, especially women, to find a path for living their best life.