This is what you should do when you are subject to criticism via social media:
There’s a real person in there somewhere.
Even the most vile trolls, those who pounce on you all day and seem to hold a grudge against the society, still have souls and can be redeemed. We can be honest with one another and admit that life is hard. It is not easy for everyone to accept that.
Curiously, social media is a place that—as in the real world, and in our real relationships—being authentic can help you find and connect with like-minded individuals. It actually “works” as a way to make connections.
I noticed this recently when I “spilled the beans” about how hard it is to write a book. My entire strategy was changed, not only in my email newsletter, but also on LinkedIn, Instagram and Instagram. I explained how the intensive research process affected my approach. It was hard to stay in isolation for weeks at a stretch, far from my friends, and still be able to read a few chapters.
Surprised and relieved, I heard from Elena Cardone (author, speaker, businessman) that she had a similar perspective.
True authenticity is a winning strategy. After watching a couple of her keynote messages, I was intrigued by her view and reading her LinkedIn posts on the realities of motherhood, business ownership, and keeping busy, I got a feeling about it.
“Honesty is one of the most powerful ways to connect with others both online and offline,” she told me recently. “In the context of social media, I have learned that people resonate and identify with me when I show my authentic self.”
Cardone stated that authenticity is what people crave. It’s what all of us crave, because we also want to be real with each other.
And being honest and authentic is an effective way to give empathy to others. Cardone believes authenticity is the key to empowering others and allowing them to be authentic. This allows them to become more confident and openly share their talents with an audience most people don’t always find supportive or welcoming.
The most startling revelation, though, is that our own authenticity is what helps us reach a wider audience, because we’re not hiding behind a veneer. You can think of it like this: It makes complete sense to show who you are if you truly want to build relationships with people who will buy your book, support your cause or listen on your podcast.
Fake people attract others who will never stay. “You can’t fit into everyone’s mold,” says Cardone. “So, stop trying. Be you and let it roll.”
Each person can only take so much. Cardone recommended that you avoid gossip and share your dirty laundry to prevent falling prey to critics.
“Handle your affairs behind the scenes,” she says. “You can be authentic when you tell people how you handled situations. These bad experiences can be used to teach in a very positive, real manner. But, you don’t need to witness a train wreck. That is not inspiring.”
An authentic life is not necessarily the same as sharing every single detail of yours. My book is an example of this. I realized that I didn’t want to make it appear easy or without bumps. Since my book is about productivity, I stopped trying to convince people that it was all smooth sailing and I’m perfectly productive at all times. When I made that switch, and stopped trying to impress people with what proved to be the hardest project I’ve ever done, I started seeing more comments on posts…from people who could relate to my journey of imperfection.
To me authenticity means being genuine. When criticism arrives, I can still rely upon those who know my history and view my points of view. It is up to me to decide who can provide feedback.
“People’s words don’t define you,” added Cardone. “Oftentimes, they are saying more about themselves than they are about you. Keep putting out content, and let that influence who it might. Don’t stop at the first sign of criticism.”
When we meet like-minded people, who share a common interest in real-life topics and situations, we are able to enjoy the wisdom of others, rather than the finger-pointing of trolls.