Don’t Feed the Trolls

This post by Seth Godin rings true to me. I’ve experienced Trolls in every company I’ve worked.


Lots of things about work are hard. Dealing with trolls is one of them. Trolls are critics who gain perverse pleasure in relentlessly tearing you and your ideas down. Here’s the thing(s):

1. trolls will always be trolling
2. critics rarely create
3. they live in a tiny echo chamber, ignored by everyone except the trolled and the other trolls
4. professionals (that’s you) get paid to ignore them. It’s part of your job.

“Can’t please everyone,” isn’t just an aphorism, it’s the secret of being remarkable.

Even as this post rings true the fact that Trolls exist at all has always been a mystery to me. They bring little value to an organization. They are almost always at the center of subversive efforts. Everyone knows who they are and can’t stand working with them. They are quick to say no, yet rarely say yes. Yet, despite this they thrive in every organization. Like weeds, the take root and are difficult to get rid of. I think the reason is because we do as Seth says and we ignore them. That’s the wrong approach.

Getting ridding of Trolls is a leadership issue. Trolls exist because they are fed. They’re fed because they are convenient when people need them. They’re fed, because they do our dirty work. They are fed, because most people don’t have the gumption to get them out. Trolls are crafty. They do their job to the letter of the law. They don’t give measurable, specific reason to let them go, yet their existence is almost always in conflict with getting things done.

Don’t ignore the Trolls. Stop feeding them. Then show some leadership and get them out . . . it is also a sign of being remarkable.