Last week, I posted in my free Facebook group, Empowering Women in Midlife, about my paid offering, the recently rebranded THRIVE Coaching Community for Women 40+. I was excited to share that this is now the only way I work with clients, on my mission to help women tap into their wisdom, step into their power, and create deep connections.
Amidst the ? and ❤️ reactions, I noticed a lone ?. What? This woman (we’ll call her Mary) had added the following comment:
“Does every single thing cost money? Does every post that promises change and hope have to deplete our bank accounts? Maybe I am just connected on too many FB entrepreneurial accounts selling wisdom or connection. Does anyone else every feel this way or is it just me alone in left field again?”
Now I won’t lie. I was pissed. What was she talking about? Here she is in my own Facebook group, where I provide value day in and day out, for free, and she is complaining that I’m promoting a paid offer?
My first instinct was to suggest that no one was forcing her to be in this or other groups and she was welcome to leave. but I knew better than to write back immediately. I took deep breaths to center myself and allow myself to feel into my own hurt. I acknowledged that this comment was about her, not about me, and I chose to lean into compassion. I used the “care” Facebook reaction button then responded:
“I’m curious, what is the anger about?”
She quickly countered:
“You are reading too much into it. There just wasn’t a thumbs down button.”
So I replied:
“What’s the thumbs down about? Tell us more.”
Here’s what she had to say to that:
“I am not sure what you are digging for? Did you read my post?”
Clearly I was hitting a wall in my attempts to get Mary to share her feelings, so I made a last-ditch attempt:
“I am curious about your intentions with your comment. I sense a lot of anger, which often masks pain. I’d like to know what your difficult feelings are about and how this community can support you. Women join this free group, run by me, with the understanding that I am a life coach and that by joining this group, they will learn about my offerings, both free and paid (this is spelled out clearly in the group description and is common practice). It sounds like my sharing about my membership was triggering for you and that you’re seeking validation for your anger from other members in this group. I’ve never had this kind of response to an offer from me posted in my own group, and I’ve been running it for years with a growing community of 2.4k women. So I’m hoping to understand your experience, and in turn I’m encouraging you to look inward. What is really going on?”
Crickets. Before too long, I noticed Mary had deleted her comment (including our back and forth) and had left the group.
This made me sad because it was a missed opportunity for Mary to take a look at her own feelings and reactions, and I had hoped that I, along with our community, could support her in gaining insight.
As luck would have it, I had taken a screen shot of the interaction to remind myself to write about it in this newsletter. I thought it could serve as an example of the choices we are asked to make on a regular basis when confronted with critical feedback. I was happy that I was able to stop and respond with curiosity rather than react defensively. That is not always the case.
Truth is, I tend to take this kind of criticism personally and my first instinct is to blame myself. I am not always able to press pause and get curious. But I am getting better at it, with practice.
Ironically, this is exactly the kind of personal growth that motivates me to coach women 40+ in my THRIVE membership—the one Mary dissed in the first place!
YOUR TURN: How do YOU respond to an affront? What enables you to lean into curiosity and compassion rather than react with anger and defensiveness? Let us know in the comments!
I am so proud of you for not reacting right away. It’s so hard sometimes.
It is all about her and not you. You are such empowerment; perhaps she is intimidated by that. Regardless—you are a gift to so many and an inspiration to me and others. SO keep your head up high and onto 2022 with deeper compassion to others, just like you are doing.
I needed to hear that Susan thank you so much!
I envy you for being so centered. For being able to step back and responding to a problem and not reacting to the criticism. For not taking it personally. I think I’d have snapped and then regret it. I’m so happy to be in your group.
It’s not easy right? I’ve reacted too quickly plenty of times. A work in progress for sure. So glad you’re in the group too!
About “Mary”: no one has mentioned this, but there are people out there who don’t understand that life coaching is a profession, one that requires training and mentoring in order to be certified.
Some people think coaches are like “Dear Abby”, they just take random questions and give advice like a kindly old aunt. (Of course even Dear Abby got paid for her newspaper Colin, but you get the idea).
Life coaching is a profession and people make a living doing this work. If “Mary” understood this fact, she may not have reacted as she did.
That’s an interesting point Roz. I agree there is still a lot of misunderstanding about life coaching as a profession (and in my opinion we are badly in need of some regulation so not just anyone can hang up their shingle and call themselves a coach). But… I’m still surprised that “Mary” felt it was strange for me as the Facebook group owner to promote my services. I guess we’ll never know. Thanks for commenting!
I’m sorry this happened to you. You’re right; it’s all about her. As an author, I get hit with people expecting me to give them free books, and are annoyed when they’re expected to pay for them, even at 2.99, 4,99, or 1.99. They don’t seem to realize how much work goes into a book, and there are publication and marketing expenses as well. I fully understand how much work, hours, effort, and energy you put into all you do, Helene.
Exactly!! I am in awe of all that goes into writing a book. We all need and deserve to own our value and be paid for our work and expertise. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.
Oh, Hélène, I’m so sorry you had to encounter some poor soul who has discovered the power of anonymous internet posts. YOU handled it like the pro you are. I honestly have admired so much of how you conduct your work site and your personal interactions, it stuns me a little to see that even one as principled and generous and kind can draw fire from the nutters.
Thanks so much Corie. It does sting but I try to keep in mind “when they go low, we go high!”