Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Nothing focuses the mind better than the constant sight of a competitor who wants to wipe you off the map.”
“Criticism is an indirect form of self-boasting.”
Haterade. A hater’s drink of choice.
For those of you that are unclear on what it means “to drink Haterade”, let me explain; if someone is drinking Haterade, it means that he is being a hater. In other words, that person is trying to hold another person back or bring another person down in some way. The word “hater” is tied to an action: hating, or drinking Haterade. Being a hater is more complicated than being an enemy because a hater can be a close friend or even a family member. Not exactly what comes to mind when you think of your enemies.
Understand: envy is the underlying emotion that motivates all haters.
Try not to confuse envy with jealousy. Jealousy involves three parties, the subject, the rival, and a desire (i.e. a person, object, or goal). The jealous person’s real locus of concern is the desire, the thing he or she either wants to gain or doesn’t want to lose. On the other hand, envy is a two party relation and the envious person’s locus of concern is the rival. This is why envy is such a nasty emotion, because it is directed towards another person rather than towards an external desire.
Haters and their targets usually have similar wants and interests, but haters choose to focus on their rivals rather than their mutual desires. As a result, haters spend their time and energy trying to cut you down and prevent you from achieving your goal rather than figuring out how to enjoy life and achieve their own goals.
For the most part, haters will take care of themselves. The cost of being a hater is significant. The time and energy haters spend trying to keep someone else down is time and energy they could have used to advance their own purposes. And really, their loss is two-fold, because while they are wasting their most valuable resources, time and energy, their targets are using their resources to get further ahead.
Any effort you make to increase happiness by setting a hater straight is completely worthless. By engaging with haters, you give them more fuel and provide them with a larger target to attack. And if you’re not careful, you can get sucked into becoming a hater yourself. Keep your attention off of your rivals and on your desires. Focus on finding ways to enjoy life more and generate influence, not hating.
The best to handle a hater depends on the flavor of Haterade he is drinking. The following is a list of 4 techniques that will help you deal with the haters in your life without becoming one yourself:
1. The channeling technique.
This technique can be applied to a broad range of haters and is your best starting point when you first identify a hater in your life. To apply the fire technique, you must be willing to let go of any fear you have of dealing with your hater’s negative thoughts, emotions, words, or actions. You have to be willing to stare directly at the Haterade. This is difficult for a lot of people to do because it goes against today’s conventional wisdom of how you should deal with your critics.
The field of personal improvement has shifted dramatically in the last 30 years from encouraging people to use both negative and positive energy as motivation to promoting the use of positivity only. The current prescription for dealing with haters is to try and ignore them and their deeds, to pretend that they do not exist. Many of today’s self-help books will go as far as to recommend that you focus on the positive qualities of your haters, or the positive parts of their attacks. However, only using positivity as motivation drastically limits your inspirational fuel source.
If someone is standing against you or your efforts, or refusing to support or encourage you or your mission, it is likely that the number of positive things there are to focus on is limited. Your fuel source is limited. On the other hand, the number of negative thoughts, feelings, and actions present are plentiful. Use them. Negative energy is potent fuel for productive action if it is channeled correctly. The solution is to use their negativity to increase the intensity of your internal spark so that it drives you to succeed. This is far better than using it as fertilizer to create a breeding ground for more negativity.
Have you ever seen what happens when you combine gasoline and an open flame? Growing up in rural Idaho, my friends and I made a lot of really bad decisions when it came to gasoline and fire. One Saturday, we thought it would be a good idea to dig a 3 foot ditch in the ground, fill a bottle with gasoline, stick a long fuse (an old white T-shirt) in the bottle, and then bury the bottle in the ditch. Can you guess what we did next? We lit the gasoline-soaked fuse that was sticking out of the dirt pile and waited for the explosion. BOOM! The bottle exploded, 50 pounds of dirt flew in the air, and a fire broke out. I’m still grounded.
Try to think of a hater’s negative feelings, words and actions, as well as your own negative responses to these things (anger, jealously, shock, disbelief, fear, sadness), as gasoline. Funnel the gasoline. Channel it. Bottle it. Control it. Once this fuel is in the right place, light the fuse. Use the ensuing explosion as energy to reposition yourself and take massive action towards achieving your goal. Let the explosion burn inside of you but keep the winds blowing in right direction: towards your productive pursuits.
2. The investment technique.
Not all haters are worthless fools. In fact, some of the world’s biggest haters are smarter, more talented, and more hardworking than either you or I. Perhaps one of your own haters has figured out how to enjoy life and generate influence better than you. At the very least, it’s probable that some hater you know has a particular ability that you highly value. This is because a hater’s relationship with you is usually connected to similar desires and interests. The problem is not the desire, the problem is that the hater’s focus is on preventing you from fulfilling that desire rather than working to fulfill it himself.
Since you and your hater have comparable ambitions, it is very likely that he has developed talents and abilities that you admire. In some cases, these talents and abilities may exceed your own. The key is to pull down the smoke screen of your own emotions and determine if any of the haters in your life have qualities that you could benefit from. For instance, if one of these haters is effectively criticizing your website on the internet, maybe you could hire him for his online promotional skills. Similarly, if one of your haters is stealing your clients or outselling you, perhaps you could buy her out or strike up a partnership.
By honoring a hater, rather than re-hating on him, you can earn a level of trust and respect from him that surpasses even the trust and respect of a close friend. Consider the following example for antiquity: after the fall of the Han Dynasty in China, General Chao K’uang- yin became Emperor Sung. Sung worked for many years to secure his kingdom and in 971 A.D., he conquered the Southern Han, which was ruled by King Liu. The emperor’s trusted advisors instructed Sung to execute Liu, but, to Liu’s astonishment, Sung gave him a position in his imperial court. From then on Liu became Sung’s most trusted and loyal consort. Likewise, when Sung defeated Ch’ien Shu, the ruler of another small kingdom, Sung was advised to imprison Shu. Yet, once again, Sung surprised his adversary and honored Shu with an imperial title. Shu later became one of Sung’s most loyal associates.
Nothing disarms a hater that is expecting a counterattack like being honored. If you are faced with a hater that may be a good investment, rise above the battle and see him or her for what they can add to your overall campaign. The key is focusing on investing in the person rather than simply using him. Strive to find new ways to enjoy life whil helping your haters increase happiness. Sincere investment in a former hater will create a bond stronger than iron.
3. The fog technique.
This technique is most useful when you are faced with a hater that has authority over you. Whether it is a boss or manager, an administrator or a committee member, a coach, a teacher, or a professor, sooner or later someone in a position of power over your life will start hating on you. Like all haters, these people will drink Haterade by trying to hold you back in some way. However, since they are directly in control of your career, academic or athletic progress, they can be much more subtle in their efforts to hamper you. If you absolutely must deal with these gatekeepers to get what you want, such as a promotion, a degree, a referral, the best course of action is to create a fog around your true intentions.
Most often, your superiors will hate on one thing and one thing only: your potential. These people are not drinking Haterade because of who you currently are, they are drinking Haterade because of who you are capable of becoming. Be especially weary of people positioned directly above you since your advancement will make you and them equals.
When I was in Graduate school, I applied the fog technique to my mentor. This professor constantly complained about his position at the University of Iowa. He felt as though he were chained to the ivory tower and had no choice but to remain an academic professor for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, my mentor took his frustrations out on his Graduate students, who he felt had more career options than him. Bringing us down was the only way he knew how to increase happiness.
During my academic final year, this professor constantly shot down any career ambitions I tried to articulate. If I expressed a desire to remain in academia, his response was that I didn’t have enough publications, and it would be at least another year until I could graduate. If I showed an interest in business and entrepreneurship, his response was that no one in industry was hiring and it would be too hard to make it on my own. And it would be at least another year until I could graduate.
Every time my mentor and I had one of these discussions, his mood darkened and his demands doubled for at least a month afterwards. Finally, I started hiding my future intentions. Whenever my impending graduation was brought up, instead outlining my specific goals, I casually expressed a variety of vague interests. I let it seem as though I was not in a hurry to graduate and that I would probably just take some time off and travel, or whatever. I didn’t lie, I just kept my responses nonspecific and disengaged. I hid my desires in a fog of apathy. Without something defined and specific to hate on, my mentor was left without a target. He had nothing to envy. Suddenly, he was incredibly easy to get along with.
The next time a hater strikes you from above, generate a fog around your intentions. If a hater can’t figure out exactly what you want, he won’t know how to hold you back from obtaining it.
4. The void technique.
Do you ever feel like one of your friends is drinking Haterade. Does she sometimes poke at you or the things you care about the most, finding inconspicuous ways to suggest that your plans will fail and that you will never reach your goals? Occasionally, these kinds of friends will actively work against you and your pursuits behind your back. Most of the time though, your friends will hate on you by doing nothing at all, including not supporting you.
Haters that call themselves friends usually imbibe on the following two flavors of Haterade: neutrality and inaction. Your friends are your friends, at least in part, because they have similar interests and desires as you. This creates a certain level of tension and competition, which, if left unchecked and improperly directed, can morph into resentment. A little tension and healthy competition in the form of rivalry can be beneficial to both parties as long as it is mutually channeled towards productive pursuits. Problems arise when one friend starts directing this tension towards the other person.
Numerous things must be considered when dealing with haters that are your friends or family members. Intense emotions, complex histories and third party relationships all come into play. Usually, the best course of action is to gain some space, drastically and definitively. Unlike the fog technique, where the goal is to conceal your desires, the goal here is to completely remove the source of these desires: yourself.
Try to realize that you are the fuel that your haters need to survive. Haters need you and your aspirations to channel their frustrations and failures onto. When you disappear, when you create a void, you force your haters to carry the full weight of their own troubles. Unfortunately, creating a void is not as easy as it sounds. During the initial stages of separation, you will probably start to notice that part of you misses the Haterade. You may have started to subconsciously rely on the Haterade as an outlet, or as a crutch, for your own problems and insecurities. It is extremely important that you push past these feelings of loss and realize that you are merely in a period of mourning. Persevere. If you give the void technique the proper amount of time to take affect, both you and your haters will gain a new perspective and possibly figure out how to increase happiness together.
Do not be surprised if the void technique draws your haters closer to you before removing the Haterade. Once haters realize that you are no longer interacting with them, they will do everything within their power to get you to reengage. And since they are close to you and understand you well, they will know exactly how to bait you into conflict. Fight the urge to engage. Trust the void.
The void technique has been used to take down entire military campaigns. Consider Russia’s response to Napolean’s invasion in 1812: rather than engage Napolean in battle, the Russians offered almost no resistance and retreated further and further into their country. As Napolean and his men marched deeper into Russia without being engaged, they became increasingly agitated, desperate and weak. Without battle, Napolean’s army had no victory, no direction, no moral boost, and no food or supplies to plunder. Napoleon made one rash decision after another, pushing his weakened army further East in an attempt to illicit a response from the Russians. By the time he reached Moscow, his initial force of 450,000 men was reduced to 100,000 by disease and starvation. Napoleon was defeated. Behold the influence of the void.
Of course, your goal is to merely gain distance and perspective. After you and your hater spend some time apart, reevaluate the relationship and, if possible, rebuild. This time without the Haterade.