I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten infuriated with a reader. It’s rarely one of those who I interact with regularly, some of whom I’ve met in person and consider friends, but rather the random commenters that seem to love nothing more than tearing down something that I’ve written. I would assume that, if you write or perform on the internet in any way, the same thing has happened to you.
In the past, I would have leaped into the comments myself and started bashing away, using my rapier wit to show this nobody “who he was messing with.” In fact, if you Google hard enough, you can likely find some of these embarrassing displays. We’ve talked already about internet arguing and its relative uselessness, so I won’t waste your time there. But how much more pointless was it for me to attack the very people who make it possible to do what I do, no matter how wrong headed I might have thought they were?
I have been extraordinarily blessed in gaining readers and fans over the years who seem to genuinely enjoy what I do and have been marvelously supportive. Some of these started out as the sort of detractors I would have tried to “set right” in the past. The secret to winning over people who either don’t know you or don’t care for you is the same and very simple: I try to love them. Do I always succeed? Nope. Do I lose my temper? You betcha. But I try to remember one simple fact, and it’s one that I think we’d all do good to keep in mind. Because they take a moment to visit my site or listen to my podcast, I’m able to have the greatest job in the world. How can you not love somebody like that, even when they’re acting like a jerk?
This did not, I should caution, come naturally. I had to learn it, just the way I hope you’re learning it now. Here’s the very vignette that taught it to me from How to Win Friends and Influence People, I think it makes my point far better than I could.