Technology sometimes has a way of failing and leaving you at work with nothing to do. Case in point, I’m sitting here at my desk, and our servers are down. I can’t access anything. The connection to our printers is down. The connection to our email is down. The connection to everything is down. So on a whim, I opened up Firefox to do some browsing to pass the time along until I could maybe see something open and get some work done.
As I opened the browser, the “recommended by Pocket” section had a selection of articles listed. One, in particular, caught my eye. The headline read: “Trolls need kind words the most.” It’s been almost seven months since I was with social media professionally (which is soon to change, more on that later) but, it was the kind of headline that made me want to know more. So, I clicked on it.
The article was not about social at all, but about a video game called Kind Words. It was released on Steam in 2019, and the gist of the game is you write short letters, and people, strangers really, can read them and respond to them. You either put your letter out there for someone to respond to or respond to someone else. That’s it.
The article, written by Senior Staff Writer Robert Purchese, talks about how trolls threatened to take over the game. They failed because of how the whole process works. During an interview with the game’s founders, they get to talking about trolls and word bans and the like.
You see, Ziba Scott spoke on how the game started with bans but soon took them away because it was the ban fueling the issues. He pointed out people wear bans as badges of honor, complaining loudly about being censored. He went on to say most trolls are simply dealing with some negative things in their lives and are lashing out where they can, and most times that’s online.
Trolls need kind words the most.
That started to make me think about how we handle negativity and troll-like behavior on the pages we manage. It is so easy to respond to anger with more anger. In the end, that doesn’t solve the problem. It can make things worse by fueling a fire that had begun way before they even found your page, your post, your comment.
I know it’s hard to greet negativity, cruel words, bad attitudes, and purposefully placed hate with optimism and kindness. It’s even harder to do it every time someone is negative. I have been in that situation myself. I recognize the incredible strength it takes to be kind when all you want to do is tell someone exactly how you feel about their negative words and bad attitude.
Truth is, though, it won’t help. It will only make things worse.
Trolls need kind words the most.
So, here are some ways to make sure you respond to the negativity with kindness every time to protect your brand’s reputation:
- Walk away: You don’t need to answer every comment or message right away. Sometimes it’s best to just walk away for a moment and take a breather. Go get a drink, say hello to a coworker, listen to a song, check out this site, and Do Nothing for 2 Minutes. Come back with a more clear mind and a better attitude. I promise it will help you find the grace you need to be able to respond with kindness.
- Get advice: There is nothing wrong with asking a colleague, a coworker, or your boss for insight on how to respond to a negative comment or message. This is especially true when it’s on a topic you don’t know anything about. Plus, learning how others would respond could give you some ideas to keep in your back pocket for next time.
- Let your fans handle it: If you have done your job right and built that reputation with your fans, they will take care of the troll for you, and you won’t have to say one word. They will remind the person of your reputation, what’s going on, and how they should handle a situation if they are handling it wrong.
- Sometimes, silence is golden: Not every negative comment or message needs a response. Depending on what is being said, a troll who is there only to instigate trouble is worth ignoring. It could be your best option. But know that this comes with a heavy price: guess wrong and find out this person is a legitimate complaint, make sure you have a good reason for ignoring them, to begin with.