Oops—I think I touched a nerve.
Recently, I wrote a Forbes piece that quickly (and if I’m honest, quite unexpectedly) became my most viewed, ousting the top spot long held by my article featuring the soft skill Gary Vaynerchuk, Simon Sinek, and Oprah Winfrey say is crucial for leaders. (Hint: it’s empathy.)
It also produced ten inbound leads and over 140 new Illuminate Me tribe members. (Hey there, newbies!)
Here’s said article:
If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you know that I often cite the benefits of focus and time management for enhanced productivity.
The curious person that I am, I wondered why so many procrastinated, and like most, assumed all procrastination was a time management issue.
I set out to write an article about it, but after researching, I found that for chronic procrastinators, laziness had nothing to do with it; it’s a coping mechanism.
It turns out that when we procrastinate, we’re avoiding an unpleasant task and doing something else that gives us a temporary mood boost.
After learning more about the struggles of chronic procrastinators, I wanted to share this perspective.
Yes and no.
It turned out that Forbes shared it a few times on LinkedIn (even before I had a chance to do it on my social channels), which garnered massive engagement. I know this because I read the comments, which weren’t always kind. Here’s one comment verbatim (typos are the poster’s):
“Total and complete nonsense: first I never procrastinate. Period. I am always early and get things off my plate right away. My oldest son is the same. My middle son is a classic procrastinator but not “scared” at all. He is LAZY and he knows it. Lazy to clean the room, mowe the lawn or do his homework. He was born lazy. He could sleep and he still likes to sleep 12 hours at the time. He is a typical lazy person and he can tell you the same. These Ph.D “researchers” claiming “all and none” in this article are part of the pseudoscience that somehow Forbs likes to publish in the recent years. Every person is different. So making these conclusions is silly.”
(Side note: I feel for this person’s son. Also, if this individual had read the article carefully, they’d know that there were no “all and none”—I think they meant “all or nothing”?— claims. But I digress.)
Honestly, I don’t mind someone disagreeing with me, but I’d prefer they channel their energy into helping me understand their point of view rather than trashing the one they disagree with.
To be fair, this comment was the most negative and even inspired a few more sub-comments divided in their agreement or refutal of this person’s perspective.
Out of the 72 posted comments, four were negative. That’s about 5%.
Of course, that means that 95%—an overwhelming majority—of the comments were positive.
So why do we get hung up in the 5%?
Because we’re human.
Here’s the thing: One negative comment can overshadow a million positives.
I wish I could tell you that reading those comments didn’t bother me. I saw them right before I shared the article to my social feeds, and for a split second, I hesitated and second-guessed myself.
Had this been years ago when I first started sharing content, my reaction would have been far worse because, instead of seeing the bigger picture, I’d fixate on that 5%.
I’ve heard from many people that one of the main reasons they don’t post content is that they’re fearful of being ridiculed.
But when you do that, you let the trolls win.
The funny thing is, I shared it anyway, and engagement continued to climb, both on my post and on Forbes’. And I already told you about all the potential business opportunities and new subscribers I can attribute back to that article.
My friends and I joke that you know you’re doing something right when the trolls and haters come out. (Yay, me!)
Sooner or later, as a content creator, you’re going to face some blatant negativity. People may question your intelligence, attack you personally, gaslight you, and call you unspeakable names.
(Ugh! It’s the worst, and yes, all of that has happened to me.)
While I used to get super bummed out, today, I’ve learned to adopt a different perspective:
First, remember that hurt people hurt people.
The person who wrote that nasty comment may have been stressed out of their mind, and my article was a convenient place to lash out. Plus, the comment says much more about that individual than it does about me.
Second, if sharing information can genuinely help someone, do it.
Not everything you say will be beloved; you are something specific to a special few. And those special few—your intended audience members—need to hear your message. Let the others keep scrolling.
Third, to the trolls: thank you for your hate.
Your membership in the 5% Club ends up benefitting me far more than you realize, in the form of potential new business, greater reach and exposure, and additional Illuminate Me tribe members.
Another way you can skip being like a troll?
By delivering feedback in a way that’s helpful and constructive.
And—bonus!—in my latest (as of yesterday) Forbes article*, I share what it’s like to be on the other side of the table, asking for feedback (which can often feel awkward and challenging) and tips for the best way to make your request.
Here’s to avoiding the 5% Club, my coruscant friends!
P.P.S. When I’m not writing this newsletter or inciting trolls, I’m a social media ghostwriter. (Yep, that’s a thing). I help founders, entrepreneurs, and CXOs craft their stories to communicate and connect better by magnifying their reach and impact. (Think personal branding and thought leadership.) Learn more here.
P.P.P.S. One more thing: You have great taste in newsletters—thanks for subscribing! Be sure to check out the archives to catch up on previous issues, and feel free to share this one with your friends. Or better yet, invite them to join our Illuminate Me tribe!
*Yes, this is a Forbes article twofer newsletter—actually a “threefer,” if you count the earlier one that incited the troll.