Victim of the Tall Poppy Seed Syndrome? What To Do When Things Get Nasty!

By: AnnMarie Cross 

The tall poppy syndrome is well and truly alive.

For those of you who may not be familiar with this saying, Wikipedia describes the tall poppy syndrome as: “a social phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down, or criticised because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers”.

As you continue to grow your business and increase your credibility and reputation within your field, not only will you capture the attention of your potential prospect/clients – you’ll also be noticed by your competitors and other people in your circle.

And, unfortunately, some of these people may not always have your best interests at heart. In fact, you may find that they try to hinder your progress through a direct attack on you personally and your work, or they’ll try to drag you down with their critical (naysayer) comments and/or actions.

I’m not talking about constructive criticism where someone is trying to offer you advice with good intentions because they want to see you grow and prosper.

I’m referring to the vindictive comments that are coming from a place of ‘do or die competitiveness’ or out of spite and envy with the sole intent on tarnishing your credibility or keeping you down.

In preparing for this article, I reached out to my social network and asked whether any of them had been a victim of the tall poppy syndrome. Sadly, many people could relate to this.

One woman found herself without a job after she had exposed several things to upper management that needed to be brought to their attention. Apparently her supervisor didn’t appreciate her new rise to fame and quickly saw to it that she was removed.

A few years later she opened her own business and was frequently told by people in her community that she’d never achieve the goals that she had set for herself.

So, if like this woman, you too have someone who is going out of their way to ‘attack, cut down or criticise you’ – what do you do? Should you come out fighting? Should you retaliate and serve them back some of their medicine? You know – tit for tat? Or do you just simply ignore them and hope they’ll go away?

Whatever you decide, I believe it’s important to hold true to your integrity and honour so that you can continue to hold your head up high.

Here are 3 tips to consider if ever you find yourself at the receiving end of the ‘tall poppy syndrome’.

1. Don’t stoop to their level

I think the most important thing to do is to avoid retaliation where you come out fighting and throwing negative comments back at them.

Stooping to their level and ‘serving them up a spoonful of their own medicine’ will only serve to take your attention, energy and focus away from what you SHOULD be focusing on – which is to continue the great work that you’re doing.

Action Step: Don’t get caught up in anger, frustration or retaliation – you’re worth so much more! Rather let your light shine brightly and continue to bring your message to the world, so that you can carry on helping the people who you know you are meant to serve.

2. Realise – it’s NOT about you

It’s important to realise that their remarks have nothing to do with you and the work you are doing, but rather EVERYTHING to do with them and their inability to achieve their own successes.

It’s THEIR stuff – their own issues and lack of self-worth and/or self-belief – and has nothing to do with you!

Action Step: Remind yourself of your mission and purpose and the people you are here to serve. Listening to the naysayers and critics will only delay you from achieving your bigger mission. Move on.

And, most important of all, is to:

3. Surround yourself with supportive people

Do you feel physically and emotionally drained after being in someone’s company where you have listened to their negative remarks? Being in the company of these naysayers and critics WILL impact your outcomes.

Are the people you associate with constantly telling you why something can’t be done, or why your plans are impossible to achieve? Perhaps that’s true for them. However are you going to let this person’s inability to reach their goals affect your ability to reach yours? I certainly hope not!

Action Step: Surround yourself with supportive people – people who will continue to encourage you to be the best you can be and who will celebrate alongside you as you continue to move from success to success.

The important thing to remember is to hold true to who you are and the work you do; keep your eyes firmly fixed on your goals; and to build a community of like-minded people who will continue to inspire and uplift you on your journey.

Did you find this article helpful? Have you been a victim of the tall poppy syndrome? What did you do? Share your stories/comments. It’s always great to hear from you!

To your business success!

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