Anti-Heckler Technique


image“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” — Aristotle

How do you slow down or turn around critics, criticism and hecklers?

Find a way to agree.

Nothing takes the wind out of the sails of an aggressive critic faster.

From experience, I’ve seen speakers effectively take the wind out of their heckler’s sails using this approach. Alternatively, taking a defensive posture tends to fuel a heckler’s fire.

In Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, David Burns presents his technique for dealing with hecklers.

The Anti-Heckler Technique

According to Burns, you can leverage the following steps to stop critics and hecklers:

  1. Immediately thank the person for his or her comments.
  2. Acknowledge that the points brought up are indeed important.
  3. Encourage that there is a need for more knowledge about the points raised, and encourage your critic to pursue meaningful research and investigation of the topic.

Key Take Aways

Here are my key take aways:

  • Thank the critic.  Thank the critic for their comments.
  • Find a way to agree.  Rather than defend or fight, find a way to agree, even if it’s in just a small way.  This is about building a bridge.
  • Involve the critic in the solution.  See it the critic has potential solutions.

Don’t combat or get crushed by the critic – use them as a way to improve.