Handling Hecklers

Most comedians expect and are used to heckling, someone from the audience shooting them down, yelling obnoxious comments and the like. But I'm not a comedian, I'm a writer. Writers are generally known for helping others in the community and for being cordial even when we disagree. I wasn't prepared for heckling.

I wasn't taunted in person, but rather online in a forum. It actually happened a few days ago, but I just happened to read it today and it stunned me for a minute. In forums, heckling is called flaming and most, have rules against it. The official rules of this forum indicate they do too, looks good to say so I guess.

My reaction? Honestly, my first desire was to play by their rules and dish it back. It would have been really easy and it would have momentarily let me burn off some steam.

What did I actually write? A few politely worded statements pointing out their "rules", and that stated my disagreement with their opinions while still noting the fact that they were entitled to them.

Why? Of course I won't post there again, but who knows who will read that thread today, tomorrow or next year? If I'd stooped to name calling and snide comments, how would that reflect on my reputation? It wasn't worth it.

I also know it won't be the last time this will happen. As long as I'm in business and putting my work out there, the potential exists for this to happen anytime and anyplace. If nothing else, now I'm a little more prepared.

Has this happened to you? Feel free to share.

Cheryl Pickett

Feedburner customer service finally responded and things seem okay for now. Thanks for sticking with me.


John Elder Robison said...

If you place yourself before the public you need to anticipate and learn to handle situations like this.

Every now and then, I get such a person in the crowd. So far, I've dealt with them successfully succeeded with humor and by moving on and leaving them behind.

Cheryl Pickett said...

I agree John. I did end up going back and posting another polite response to the accusations, mainly because a couple of other people posted somewhat in my defense, figured I should at least show up in my own defense. Of course, they were attacked too.

All in all, I ended up with a blogpost idea, a newsletter idea and a little bit of traffic to my site. Didn't lose one bit in my view, and I'm moving on, dignity intact.

Amy Jo Garner said...

You did the right thing. Anyone reading those threads in the future will easily deduce who was the professional and who was not. You maintained and possibly even improved your online reputation by being polite.

Kat said...

I just received my first about 2 weeks ago. It was rather disheartening: But after reading your post here and in Writer's Weekly.com, I now feel apart of a very welcomed family. Thank you for taking the time to post this and write an article.

Edie said...

Sounds like you handled yourself well in this situation. I agree with John, being in the public eye sets oneself up for attack, warranted or not.

Moving on with dignity and achieving success is the greatest revenge. I found you through the Writer's Weekly newsletter and it sounds like you are getting good support.

Just consider this a test and you passed with flying colors.

Cheryl Pickett said...

Kat, I'm so glad you found this post and I'm honored it helped you.

Just so you know, the vast, vast majority of what I've experienced in almost 9 years of writing has been much more like the comments above.

Welcome & I hope you'll stay in touch.