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Ian Ferguson: Strategies To Beat Workplace ‘Haters’

Everyone who has been in a work environment for more than a year claims to have “haters” on their backs. The Bahamian definition of a “workplace hater” is someone who has no logical reason to dislike or harm another employee, but does so anyway.

My advice has always been to pay no attention to haters because usually their own venom and toxins take them out. The old Bahamian adage teaches the lesson: When you dig one grave, prepare to dig another the same time. The laws of reciprocity still apply: We reap what we sow.

More recently I have observed how vital it is to call out deliberate acts of sabotage, and sinister plots to hurt and destroy others in the workplace. At all levels in public and private businesses, some people seem fixed on vengeful behaviour against their fellow team members. This has to be stopped, and behaviour and actions of this nature must be met with real consequences.

For those suffering under the cruel hand of haters, here are some useful tips to cope and overcome these workplace woes:

1 Make criticism your fuel, not your kryptonite

Negative feedback can either be the anchor you drag through the desert or the wind behind your sail. Do not allow someone’s negative words about you to define you. Use it as a driving force to pursue greater achievement. Know who you are and live that out loudly every day.

2 Take it as a compliment

The Bahamian popular song, with poetic lyrics, says: Dog don’t bark at parked cars. The fact they are talking is evidence that you are going places. Pat yourself on the back and keep stepping. Criticism is the best proof that you are bound to be wildly successful.

3 Remember that successful people do not need to put others down

My maternal grandmother often repeated: ‘Hurting people hurt people’. The sick and weak lives of the emotionally deprived, who live and work among us, sometimes cause them to project their hurt, disappointments and issues on to everyone else around them. Misery likes company, so brush them off. “Haters” often communicate out of love or a cry for help. When we tear others down, we reveal more of our true character than theirs.

4 Kill them with kindness

To use the words of scripture: ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you’. Some haters will respond favourably to love and kindness. Do not stress too much about the haters without souls; they take care of themselves eventually.

5 Gauge and manage your reaction

You cannot control what people say or how they feel about you. You have absolute control over what you say and do in response. Do not fight fire with fire. Sometimes a little water is needed or, as the proverb says, softs words turn away wrath.

6 Take the opportunity to check in with yourself

Some of us are cursed with a natural desire to please everyone with our personal and professional choices. No matter what you do, people will always criticise your actions when you try to achieve success. The quicker you can embrace that, the better you will be. If everyone is happy with what you do, chances are you are not happy with you.

  1. Listen to criticism but do not give up

The best, most powerful advocates often start out as your toughest critics. Do not ignore critics’ feedback. Listen to them and engage with them constructively. Hear them out and win them over with logic and reason.

  1. Stick to your convictions

Amazing breakthroughs are usually first met with great resistance. When you begin to disrupt the status quo, dissenters will gather. People are naturally sceptical of change and reluctant to accept things they do not understand. Do not be bothered; stay the course.

• NB: Ian R Ferguson is a talent management and organisational development consultant, having completed graduate studies with regional and international universities. He has served organsations, both locally and globally, providing relevant solutions to their business growth and development issues. He may be contacted at iferguson@bahamas.com.

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