When I was new to Twitter, I made the mistake of engaging the haters on their own terms. I’m a clever guy. I can dish with the best of them. But this was a mistake. The hater is validated when the target responds in kind. It tells the hater they are making a difference. And since many haters conceal their identities, it’s never a fair fight. If I lose my cool, I could lose my job. Also the hater stands to benefit from my engagement. Everyone on Twitter knows that you sometimes follow the feeds of people who you can’t stand just to gather social intelligence. Why would I advertise a fellow hater to the Eli Lake haters who already follow me?
My next tactic was simply to block and ignore the hater. This is effective to a point, but haters will troll you whether you block them or not. Plus, I have to admit that I like knowing there are people who actively despise me.
So here is what works. Retweet the hater’s tweet, appending the phrase “I love your passion,” or some variation. This may seem counterintuitive. After all, the hater has just insulted you and you respond with a compliment. But “I love your passion” is no compliment at all. It’s what you hear from someone who is about to disappoint you. It’s what you hear when you don’t get the job.