How to deal with (or avoid) critics, skeptics and haters

Today’s episode was prompted by a comment I received on an earlier video about “paying the price for being different” and the many concerns I’ve heard over the years about revealing opinions, beliefs or even personality – and being rejected or openly criticized. Video below, scroll for the text version.


  • You are not alone!
  • A map of the “world” that you’re marketing to
  • 3 things you can do to avoid the critics, skeptics and haters

Being original is tough

One of the challenging parts of being an original, a YOU-Shaped business – is that you’re doing something different.

It might be a little different.

Or it might be a lot different.

You may hold views, opinions or values that are different from the mainstream.

You may offer a service that people “don’t get” or aren’t familiar with – or dismiss outright because “it’s not the way we’ve always done it”

You are not alone!

Ever feel like your business offers square pegs in a world that only wants round holes? Me too!

Most of my clients are in what I would call unconventional businesses. (YOU-Shaped Businesses!)

I’ve worked with nutritionists, energy healers, even life coaches – where people questioned whether or not their profession had any value.

Many of my clients offer services that are infused with spirituality: from simply taking a spiritual approach in their coaching or counselling business – to professional ghost busting! They feared – or even encountered situations where disbelievers and skeptics were eager to jump in and question their beliefs.

I’ve also worked with clients who had a reasonably traditional business, but took an approach that countered conventional thinking – like the personal trainer who did NOT focus on weight loss – and was constantly given unsolicited advice that the ONLY reason anyone would hire a trainer is to lose weight.

I face this in my own business!

I am taking a very unpopular stand: ETHICAL marketing? Marketing by being honest? Not using psychologically manipulative practices?

It’s OK to stay small and profitable, you don’t have to build an empire (unless you want to!)

Showing up – as a woman – on camera – without fancy hair and makeup?


The world you are doing business in

Picture 3 concentric circles: green in the middle, yellow in the middle ring and red in the outer ring. (Or just look at the image!)

Focus on the people in the green zone!

Centre ring: on board

These are your people.

They believe and think as you do. They are on board.

This group contains your clients, potential clients and your supportive colleagues.

Middle ring: open

These folks are not onside yet.

They may never onside.

But they’re open to hearing what you have to say.

Outside ring: closed

These are not your people.

A small percentage may be critics, skeptics or haters.

But mostly? These are people who are not interested.

Their rejection is simply that: “not for me.” It’s not an attack.

They might become open at some point – or maybe never.

Now that you have the lay of the land, here are 3 things you can do to work with it.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”When you offer something outside the mainstream, you’ll encounter people who disagree with you. Here’s how to handle (or avoid) the critics, skeptics and haters.” quote=”When you offer something outside the mainstream, you’ll encounter people who disagree with you.”]

Your strategy for avoiding critics, skeptics and haters

1. Know your ideal clients

I’m on board with what you’re doing! I share your values and beliefs, you have what I’m looking for – and I’m in!

This is more important for YOU-Shaped Businesses than conventional businesses.

You are not for everyone.

Your services are for a very specific group of people.

Get super clear about who they are – not demographically (age, gender, occupation) – but psychographically: their values and beliefs, their world view.

Look higher up on Maslow’s pyramid towards the self-actualizers.

The lower levels are the place of “same old same old” thinking.

Your ideal clients are the believers, the people who are on the path.

They are the ones who will gravitate towards you because you are offering exactly what they are looking for. They are already on board, in that green circle.

2. Speak directly to them

Broadcast to your ideal clients on their frequency. Turn up the volume to 11.

Hold your ideal clients in mind and speak directly to them any time you write or speak or advertise.

Imagine an audience of supportive people who have been waiting for YOU.

They want to hear what you have to say.

They already agree with you.

They’re thinking Oh Hell Yes!!!

Develop your services with them in mind.

Create your website for them: be “the tab” that speaks directly to them.

When you do this, you also end up speaking to the people in the yellow circle who are open to hearing your message.

They might not be on board yet, but they’re listening.

3. Don’t try to convert or persuade or convince

I know you want a hammer and you don’t believe in wrenches. But let me explain how wrenches are better. (Don’t do this!)

Don’t write specifically to your critics and skeptics.

Don’t try to defend or persuade or explain.

Don’t engage.

Simply accept that they are someone else’s clients. Someone else is meant to serve their needs.

Too often, we put ourselves in this position where we believe so strongly in what we do that we become almost evangelical. We want the entire world to see The Truth as we see it.

This approach doesn’t lead to sales.

It’s incredibly hard to change someones mind – to convince or persuade them – when they’re not even open to listening.

So don’t try.

Rejection hurts – don’t go actively looking for it!

Don’t try selling your plant-based food products at a meat eaters convention!

It can sting to be rejected. To have someone dismiss what we do as bullshit. To say they don’t believe in what we do – or that we’re in the business of ripping people off.

And sometimes this will happen.

I’ve had people tell me to my face that they wouldn’t do business with me because I don’t “look the part” – dismissed because I don’t wear makeup. (Want an example of actively looking for rejection? Try wearing pajamas to a professional speaker’s conference!)

You’ll minimize rejection by focusing on speaking to your right people.

Look for people in the “green zone” and speak to them.

Avoid the “red zone” filled with the people who are not interested or actively against what you’re doing.

Whether or not your skeptics can see and understand and agree with what you do isn’t relevant. (And trying to convince them can trigger self-doubt.)

Focus on your piece of the puzzle.

Serve your ideal clients.

Find colleagues who believe in the same things you do. Band together and collaborate. Lift each other up.


Your people need you.