Trolls, Burdens, and Happiness.. Oh My!

Jul 20, 2010   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Professional Development, Social Networking  //  No Comments

Many of you have been members of our communities since we started them more than a decade ago.  So you’ve seen over the years how great things can be when we collaborate and you’ve seen how bad it can be when things go down the tubes.

Fortunately, we have a great set of moderators to ensure that the worst of the worst postings don’t make it anywhere near your inbox.  But from time to time we’d get posts that were more about attacking the other person that offering up constructive criticism about the content of a post.

There are different approaches to managing teams and communities when it comes to negative feedback versus personal attacks.  Some of our members think that we should all have thick skins and learn to deal with personal attacks, while others support our position that posts that are not constructive should not be approved.

We need to realize that there are all types of people out there and we all get our self-actualization in many ways. Trolls (people who spend their day making insulting posts in blog comments, board posts, and mailing lists) try to lift themselves up by smashing others down. Others take a different approach – by taking risks, learning, and continuing to improve themselves.

I want to encourage everyone to stay in the latter group. And have compassion for those who haven’t yet figured out how to improve themselves. You don’t have to put up with insults to be compassionate, but you also shouldn’t carry those insults around.  Whether they come from an online community or a team meeting, the best way to deal with them is to reject the thought, verbally or internally, and move on.

I think it must be a painful life having to find and point out mistakes or weaknesses in others in order to feel good. It’s such a burden, when we all have enough burdens to carry already.

As a community manager I know that for every person who posts, there are probably hundreds or thousands of others who learned something from your post.

Carry that with you, not the posts or comments of the people trying to push you down to prop themselves up.

Andy Leonard, a SQL Server Blogger, has a great series of blog posts on a similar topic. In his post, A Turning Point, he mentions some of his strategies of dealing with positive/negatives. 

Andy’s Secrets to Happiness

If you look around at work and life in general, there’s plenty of things to discourage you. The above quote says to me "You have a choice about how you react." Personally, I’ve made a conscious decision:

     Don’t do misery.

I did some misery in the past and I think that’s enough for one lifetime. From here on out, no more. When life hands me lemons I give them to my lovely bride Christy (Blog@ChristyLeonard) and she makes a tasty lemony dessert out of them. Also:

     Do not let people live rent-free in your head.

Sorry, them’s the rules. If you’re in there you either need to pay up or move out.

Check out his excellent series.

And don’t carry the burden that someone else has tried to put on your shoulders.  You have enough to do already.

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