Best 8 Ways to Deal with Detractors

By Leo Babauta

We have all had them as we set and go after our goals, no matter where we are or what our goals may be: naysayers, detractors, people who poke fun or get angry or tell us we can’t do it.

Detractors are very serious business, even if they just seem to be having a little fun at our expense. Don’t let them stop you or even slow you down.

How do you deal with detractors? Each one will be different, but here are a few tips:

  1. First learn to identify them. Sometimes we don’t realize that someone is being a detractor. They may be a close friend or spouse or other trusted person, so when they scoff or say negative things, we trust them and take it to heart. But there’s a difference between being realistic and just being a naysayer. Learn to listen to what others are saying, and see what your reaction is. If it discourages you, makes you feel like quitting, then maybe this person is being a detractor.
  2. See if they have a valid point. Like I said, sometimes they are just trying to be realistic. They might have a good reason for their negativity. Step back, objectively think about whether they are bringing up a real obstacle that must be overcome, and if so, figure out how to overcome it. It’s rarely insurmountable. If you want it enough, you can figure out a solution. Now, if they don’t have a valid point, read on.
  3. Zap any negative thoughts they give you. Detractors have a way of taking their negative thoughts and transferring them to you. Suddenly, there’s a seed of doubt. And it can grow into a huge oak tree of doubt, with roots that tear up the foundation of your goals. Stop those negative thoughts as soon as possible. Push them out, and think positive thoughts instead. Don’t let them overcome you.
  4. Realize that there will always be detractors, and let them slide off you like water on a duck’s back. In every person’s life, there will be at least one detractor, if not more. You cannot completely avoid them. But you don’t need to listen to them. Just smile, and let them talk. Their words cannot stop you. They have no effect on you if you ignore their words.
  5. Confront them, and get them on your side. Sometimes the detractor is someone close to you, someone you cannot ignore. If so, it’s best to enlist the help of this person instead of fighting against them. Do this as early as possible. Tell them that this goal is very important to you, and you cannot do it without their help. Tell them that you realize they have doubts, but you really need them to be positive, and support you. They can be your best ally, instead of your worst detractor.
  6. Laugh with them. Sometimes people are uncomfortable when you make a change, and so in order to ease this discomfort, they will make jokes or tease you. This probably has less to do with you than it does with their discomfort. They don’t know how else to deal with this change. Realize this, and just laugh. If you take it as a good-natured joke, sometimes this will disarm them. They may continue to make jokes, but it won’t be as tense and won’t have as much an effect on you if you just keep laughing.
  7. Have counterarguments ready, and inform them. Sometimes people are just misinformed. They might have misunderstandings about what you are doing. Know all of their arguments, and the common potential arguments, and have counterarguments ready. Do your research, and be very informed. Then try to educate your detractor. If you do it right, with a positive, sincere attitude, you might actually get the person to listen, and perhaps even change their mind. If not, at the very least you know better, and you don’t let their arguments create doubt in your mind.
  8. Be secure in the knowledge that you are doing something good. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do. You can’t win them over, you can’t avoid them, you can’t laugh with them. So you have to just ignore them, and keep telling yourself that when you do achieve your goal, that will be your reward for enduring this detractor.

Again, there will always be detractors in your life. But they are just more obstacles that you have to overcome to get to your goal. There will always be obstacles, but if you think positive, and seek solutions, you can beat them (or get them to join you).