How to Deal with Detractors


Screen-shot-2010-11-21-at-9.44.51-PM-150x150It would be easy for me to say that I simply avoid negative people, period.  But it’s not that easy, is it?

As I am about to embark on a rather large career change, many detractors have come out of the woodwork to share their opinions, albeit not intentionally.

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.  I have been a detractor (not proud to write that) in the past, so I can say first hand that it comes from a place of low self esteem…and misery certainly loves company.

Detractors can really bring us down and have a negatively profound effect on our life.  You must not let them stop you!

There are many types of people who detract from our life.  Here are some ways you can deal with them:

  1. 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 doubt us 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, or makes you feel like quitting, then this person is being a detractor.
  2. Reflect. Sometimes people are just trying to help you to be realistic. They might have a sound reason for their negativity. Step back for a moment and reflect; do they have a legitimate point?  If so, great. If you want it enough, you can figure out a solution, so thank the person for their insight.
  3. Watch out for planted seeds.  Once a seed is planted by a detractor, it grows. And it can grow into a huge tree of doubt, with roots that tear up the foundation of your goals. Do everything you can to replace those negative thoughts with positive ones.
  4. Textbook situation?  For every positive thought we have, there is at least one detractor; they are all over. You cannot completely avoid them, but you can choose whether to listen to them or not. Just smile and nod; words are only words.
  5. Call them out.  When the detractor is someone close to you, confront them. You need this person on your side, not against you.  Enlist their help, and tell them that you need them.  Tell them that you realize they have doubts, but you really need them to be positive, and support you. Perhaps they can be your best supporter.
  6. Kill them with logic.  I love this term. Sometimes people are simply misinformed, so educate them! Do your research, be very informed, and be ready to argue your points. Then try to educate your detractor. If you are resolute about your thoughts, you may change the person’s mind (if you care to).
  7. Stay firm. If there is nothing you have missed (see #2) and you have detractors, sometimes there’s nothing you can do. If all else fails, 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.

There will always be detractors in our lives. But they are just more obstacles that you have to overcome to get to your goal. Hopefully, you will be able to deal with them with some of my tips above!


  1. There will always be haters. I just ignore them. What’s that saying? “Haters are my motivators!!!”
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted…I’m a Workaholic: A Club Thrifty ConfessionalMy Profile

  2. This is a fine lesson, Tony in dealing with the detractors, those who presume they have a say, but in reality do not. So I take number 1 and ID them, then if I absolutely cannot completely ignore them, I naturally resort to ridicule.

    Just kidding. I skip all the quibbling and begin with calling them out, making an attempt to cut right to the chase so as not to waste time. They know what they are up to, we know it too and so reducing the time it takes to deal with them makes sense.

    You are an incredibly nice person, Tony. Let not the detractors get at you. Let them retreat to the woodwork. You are too busy living a marvelous life!
    cj recently posted…I am Not a Bum Loser After AllMy Profile

  3. Tony, this is the most realistic and comprehensive post on this topic I have read! You have offered not just two or three solutions that, when I read them, I say, “Well, that will not work for dealing with _________.” I especially love Identify Them.

    So often people just take friends and family’s words at face value. Well, I’ve know them for a long time, so they must be right. I know I do this.

    Thank you so much for this post. It has really energized me today!

    • Thanks Tammy! When I opened my eyes to who detractors were in my life, it was quite surprising. As I said though…I was one for some time. Ugh…

  4. I take the idea from James Altucher. The way he puts it is “cut out those who bring you down and bring the ones who raise you up closer.” With this in mind, it’s the same thing as identifying these detractors and slowly removing them. When you surround yourself by people who lift you up, you only can become inspired to grow.
    Vincent Nguyen recently posted…The Friendship Equation, How to Get a Social LifeMy Profile

  5. Great post. I think it is important to remember that you control your emotions. When you even waste time thinking about “the haters” you are validating them. Be confident in yourself and do your homework. When you have a well thought out process and confidence you won’t have to think twice about what anyone else thinks about a decision.
    Nick @ recently posted…Versatile Blogger Award NominationMy Profile

  6. Tony, as you have shown with this blog, I am sure that any endeavour you care to venture into you will have the odds in your favour – so full steam ahead with the career change.

    As you say, there’s a distinction between constructive feedback – which can be extremely helpful in unearthing and pre-empting potential problems within a plan – and plain negativism. The funny thing is, I don’t think it’s always done simply as a means of bringing the other down. I myself have been on the receiving end of a great deal of ‘what-if’ anxiety laden advice over the years – none of which was intended to be anything but supportive, but of course was extremely undermining.

    When it comes to my own affairs, I have reached a stage in life where I value my opinions higher than I do the opinions of others. In fact I feel no need to seek their approval or understanding whatsoever. My general sentiment is that if people want to wallow in self-doubt and opt for the easy path in life in a ultimately futile attempt to cling onto an illusion of ‘security’, that is certainly their choice, but it isn’t going to impinge on my life.

    As Rudyard Kipling wrote…’If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you…If all men count with you, but none too much…Yours is the earth and everything that’s in it…and what’s more, you’ll be a man, my son.’
    Gareth recently posted…Have a Nice Day!My Profile

  7. I like what you’re saying here. Detractors can be harmful to your thoughts and goals. If you don’t deal with them, you can really be putting yourself at a disadvantage.

    I especially like your point about being firm with them. Sometimes there is nothing else you can do. You might have to be tough with them (and yourself) so that they don’t mess you up.

    I know that personally I’ve had to deal with detractors. I tried to talk with them so they wouldn’t be so negative, but eventually I had to cut them out. I know that was a good decision for me.
    Steve recently posted…How to Negotiate a Month of Travel from WorkMy Profile

  8. There is always a case for positive criticism and never for negativity. Many people are scared of change, other are jealous, and also you can’t conceive something you have never done. If I tell someone random that I am going to take off and travel the world for 2 years, they will say I am crazy, if I tell a traveler he will say go for it. You have to surround yourself with the people you want to be and no one will tell you you are wrong.
    Pauline recently posted…Why an early start makes all the differenceMy Profile

    • Pauline, I am sure your incredible sense of independence has caught people off guard…but look at all the amazing things you have done!

  9. I think I must have been abotu 12 or 13 when the penny dropped for me. I really don’t worry about people who are not important to me. Of course we all like to be liked and don’t like to be disliked but it really doesn’t matter. Grow up/out of it or whatever. Remember that they all sit on the toilet as well so get that into your imagination!
    John@MoneyPrinciple recently posted…The stupidity of Osborne and his politicsMy Profile

  10. Detractors have their fair market value, but use them only as a means of playing devils advocate. You have to have the confidence in yourself to know you are making the best decision that suits you and your family, not the detractor. Being firm is certainly the best way, but that comes with confidence, and that comes with exploring all options and believing in yourself. Great post!
    Jim recently posted…Understanding The Myth of Private Property OwnershipMy Profile

  11. I’ve gotten to the point in my life where my willingness to put up with detractors is small. Unfortunately, those little seeds they plant still find their way into my subconscious, but I try my hardest to pull them out. Constructive feedback and sharing of concerns are always welcome, but negativity for negativity’s sake is not. I’ve had to pull back from some friendships because the amount of negativity they carried with them was robbing me of my own good energy.
    Shannon @ The Heavy Purse recently posted…3 Money Myths Parents Need to Stop BelievingMy Profile

    • Now this I like to read. Well put, Shannon. Helpfulness is great, but if someone is simply forcing their agenda under the guise of devil’s advocate or the like, they can save themselves the trouble. Strategizing on how to deal with detractors seems a waste of time to me.
      cj recently posted…Zip-Zap Beans: Magical IndeedMy Profile

    • I agree completely, Shannon. Interestingly enough, I am shedding comments from detractors from YEARS back in my life. Sometimes it takes a while…

  12. This is great advice Tony! I want to be around people who are going to support my dreams and passions, not try to tear me down or make me doubt myself. And I agree with you 100%…sometimes you just have to cut the cord on the detractors.
    Brian @ Luke1428 recently posted…I Love to Clean the BathroomMy Profile

  13. It’s so easy to come across negative people when you are talking finances as well. So many people complain about housing in Vancouver. When we tell them we have two condos, they automatically start making excuses for us – oh we’re both working so it’s easier, oh, we must have had help, etc etc….
    CF recently posted…Choosing the best streaming music sitesMy Profile

  14. Sadly many of the people who are detractors are usually as successful as you want to be or a least that is what I have found. Haters gonna hate no way around it. But for many its the fear of the unknown and they want to you follow in their footsteps. They are afraid to follow their own dreams and passions out of fear.
    MADD Finances recently posted…Editions TV Presents Accounts Where People Can Invest Money InMy Profile


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