Are grammar trolls testing your patience? Even if pulling their hair were the right thing to do (and it isn’t), you really should take the high road. Remember, grammar trolls are people who always look for flaws in other people’s writing. They criticize every typo and offer unsolicited advice about how you should speak or write. Their comments are often off-topic, upsetting, and rude. Don’t resort to fisticuffs; efficiently and permanently shut the trolls down. Here’s how:

1 Maintain the moral high ground. Trading insults only brings you down to their level. If your exchanges are public, other people will be judging everything you do and say. However, if your responses—should you deign to respond—show respect and good sense, readers will quickly see your intellectual superiority. Sure, you made a booboo, but who are the real buffoons?

2 Thank them. After all, they are offering free proofreading and grammar coaching! Seriously, did you make an error? Disparaging comments, though unpleasant, can benefit you if you let them. Make an honest appraisal of your writing and speech. If you agree that there is room for improvement, study up on your weak points. Practice what you learn when you write and speak. The fewer errors you make, the fewer errors grammar trolls will be able to condemn.

3 Ignore them or think before you speak. You will have to evaluate which method would be most effective with each particular troll. If your nuisance is seeking attention, he will lose interest if his comments fall on deaf ears. On the other hand, some well-intentioned pests simply lack tact. In those cases, prepare your words carefully. You can politely communicate that their comments are unwelcome. If their hearts are in the right place, they might apologize or at the very least word their remarks more graciously in the future.

4 Look for the humor in the situation. If a troll has malicious intent, nothing will get his goat more than if his remarks amuse you. Laughing at yourself shows that you don’t take yourself—or your words—too seriously. A balanced self-view contributes to emotional health and confidence. If you are brave, you can praise your attacker as you good-naturedly acknowledge your goof: Oops! Thanks to Grammar Cowboy for catching that double negative!

5 Be proactive. If you are in the public eye, you must learn to deal with intense scrutiny. Proofread your work meticulously. Practice speeches with a friend. If you publish a blog, you might consider disabling comments on certain posts or by certain users. If you are not in charge, don’t be afraid to report a bully. Most moderators of forums, for example, have the authority to remove comments and revoke privileges of abusive community members. Chances are, you are not the only one who finds a certain person offensive.

Some grammar trolls get a perverse pleasure from finding fault. Others don’t mean any harm; they just need to learn to communicate without wounding others. The latter you can help by pointing out how their observations make you feel. As for the others, you can send them scampering back to their dark caves and corners by following these five steps!