Friends, Critics and Trolls

Edited May 2019: We were a part of a wonderful Classical Conversations community for the first eight years of our home education journey. Now, due to poor state leadership and questionable corporate business practices, our family has elected to “consciously uncouple” from our association with the organization and we cannot recommend any others get involved at this time. 

I know it’s hard to believe, but on occasion I have been known to have an argument or two.

Sometimes – shocking, I know! – people actually contest what I have to say!

On that rare instance when a disagreement occurs I’ve had to learn how to 1) listen to what the other person has to say without becoming defensive, 2) figure out what they are saying that is valuable, 3) decide what course of action to pursue after that.

(By the way, this only applies to other reasoning people in my life.  Recently Uno has tried out what happens when she tells me she doesn’t like me… I don’t follow my advice in these instances.  That’s because I’m a mean mom who doesn’t believe black satin, heeled shoes are the best choice for playing in mud puddles.  I know, it’s an awful stance I’ve taken.)

Michael Hyatt wrote a post several months ago with recommendations for dealing with conflict.  He said when you have disagreement you have to distinguish between friends, critics and trolls:

  • Friends love you and are willing to share with you the truth, even if it hurts a little.
  • Critics don’t have anything personal against you; they simply disagree with you.
  • Trolls are spoiling for a fight. They attack you because something is wrong with their heart. My best advice is to ignore them. If you engage them, it only strengthens their resolve.

I’ve been blessed to have a few people who are genuine Friends – they speak truth with love, even when it’s hard or I don’t want to hear what they have to say.  Guess what?  Our relationship has always survived!  Even though I haven’t enjoyed the conversation I’ve always valued their opinion and wisdom and come back to a stronger relationship in the end.

Critics– these are a dime a dozen!  Newton’s Third Law of Motion is “For Every Action There Is An Equal and Opposite Reaction.”

If I’m out there trying to do what I’m called to do, I’m moving.  There will be criticism and there will be people who disagree.  It’s not personal, it just is.  This type of criticism actually makes me better at whatever I’m doing because it sharpens me as iron sharpens iron.

(Yep, I’m able to discuss Newton because my kids are in Classical Conversations.  They’re the coolest homeschoolers out there and if you’re interested in being this awesome you should check the program out!  To further clarify, I never took physics in high school.  That was for the smart kids who had an intimate relationship with numbers.  Not me – I have this love affair with words that numbers can’t compete against.)

Finally, there are the Trolls.  I don’t like trolls and they hurt my feelings.  In fact, the Troll slingshots and mud pies are the insults and accusations I play as a personal soundtrack in my head almost constantly.  They’re the backdrops of “not enoughs” and “never, nevers” I have to actively choose not to absorb every day.

Remember the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff?  They met a troll.  Here’s what they finally said to that bully old troll on that trippity-troppity bridge:

“Well, come along! I’ve got two spears,
And I’ll poke your eyeballs out at your ears;
I’ve got besides two curling-stones,
And I’ll crush you to bits, body and bones.”

That was what the big billy-goat said. And then he flew at the troll, and poked his eyes out with his horns, and crushed him to bits, body and bones, and tossed him out into the cascade, and after that he went up to the hillside. There the billy goats got so fat they were scarcely able to walk home again.

I’m not endorsing crushing people into bits of body and bones… literally.  Because that would be just wrong and possibly criminal.

I am advocating doing everything to crush the troll soundtrack mentally!  After all, there are only about six really mean people in the world.  They just travel around a lot.  And if you ruin their soundtrack they’re just miserable and lonely people on their own.

That’s what I’ve figured out for myself.  However, there is a tricky aspect – what do you do when the same person can, on occasion, wear each of those hats?  As for that situation… if you have any advice, please let me know!

Good luck with your own Friends, Critics and Trolls.  I’ll be praying for you!

How do you deal with criticism?

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One thought on “Friends, Critics and Trolls

  • August 6, 2011 at 11:45 am

    I post on a sports site and these definitions are right on..

    My line and I can’t remember who to attribute it to is, “Don’t get into squirt fights with skunks, you both will just end up stinking”.. this is the trolls..

    Debate with Critics can increase knowledge, as long as you are open minded..

    Friends speak in love to bring about growth and happiness..

    Then there are those who take the verse below as a to tell you all of your faults. Makes them more powerful and superior than you..
    James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
    These people are the worst of the trolls…

    Just one old guys opinion.. ;-p

    Thanks for posting. I do appreciate your blogs…


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