Seven Tips For Responding To A Personal Attack On The Web Against You Or Your Business; A Practical Guide For Unfortunate But Inevitable Online Disagreements

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 21:18
Seven Tips For Responding To A Personal Attack On The Web Against You Or Your Business; A Practical Guide For Unfortunate But Inevitable Online Disagreements

Tags: client communications | client feedback | integrity | Social Media

Writing a blog or tweeting regularly about what you think invites disagreement. Saying anything of substance publicly puts you at risk of someone disagreeing with you.


Fear of detractors probably keeps many of financial advisors from blogging or participating in social media. Some advisors are undoubtedly haunted by the fear of a former client flaming them in a review on a Google local listing. Understandably, it's scary to think that someone could post a comment on Google like, "You lost thousands of dollars of my money on a bad investment!." But for the most part human decency prevails. I don't know of a single incident like that that.

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Still, if you are blogging, commenting, or frequently active on social media, it’s likely you will eventually get into a spat. Here are some rules for handling such unfortunate incidents:
1.  Don’t Lie. If you have a problem with telling the truth, social media is not for you. If you have no problem with always telling the truth, you’re fine. It’s that simple. Always say only what you know is true.

2.    Respond. It won't go away if you ignore it. Worse still, if you do not respond people will think you could not defend yourself because what was said is true. Address a heckler head on. Set the record straight by aking your case. Do it once and then drop it. Move on. As long as you have told the truth, you have nothing to hide or be ashamed of.

Be Humble. Empirical evidence shows that 20% of the time you absolutely, positively know you are right, you are indeed wrong. It’s a phenomenon known as the overconfidence effect. “In a series of experiments where subjects made true-or-false responses to general knowledge statements, they were overconfident at all levels,” says Wikipedia. “When they were 100% certain of their answer to a question, they were wrong 20% of the time.” We’re all idiots. So do the opposite: keep open to the possibility that you might be wrong, and that will reduce your chances of actually being wrong.  It’s  the “under-confidence effect.”

Take The High Road. Don’t resort to tactics your detractors use. People are emotional and behave badly. Don’t fall into that trap.

Be Thankful They Care.  When people vehemently disagree with you or even ridicule you, be thankful they care enough about your work to become so enraged. They care about what you do and say. Try to keep that in mind when their barbs are making your blood boil. Keep in mind that for every outlier that attacks you, there are many people who agree with you -- especially if you're actually right and have a history of doing the right thing. 

Don’t Overshare.  Don’t say anything in social media that you would not want on the front page of the newspaper. When you post content to a website, even a private website or one only open to your Facebook friends from elementary school, expect that it will be made public. It’s wise to adopt this policy in emails as well.

Forgive. Don’t hold a grudge. We all make mistakes. It’s not that big a deal.


Comments (1)

Nick Stuller
Great advice Andy. Very applicable whether in the media or not.
nstuller , June 13, 2012

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