Our society greatly values a strong work ethic, ambition, and going the extra mile for our company or organization. Most of us want at least a little recognition for our accomplishments, and it’s a great feeling to have your colleagues and coworkers celebrate with you. But if you’ve ever felt like the recognition comes with a side of criticism or gossip, you may be experiencing the social phenomenon, “Tall Poppy Syndrome.”
The uglier cousin of imposter syndrome, Tall Poppy Syndrome occurs when a person’s work is the target of attack or resentment, most often as a result of his or her success. The name comes from ancient Greek accounts referencing cutting down the tallest poppies, but its real-life examples are prevalent even today. If left to its own devices, Tall Poppy Syndrome can cultivate a toxic work environment and may actually have a negative effect on productivity.
If you’re experiencing Tall Poppy Syndrome or notice it taking place in your company, here are some ways to handle it:
For a moment, remove yourself from the negativity and check in with yourself. How do you feel about your accomplishment? What would you say to a colleague who’d received similar recognition? Turn that around and direct that encouragement to yourself. While it’s natural to want the approval of others, don’t let it dictate how and why you work hard.
Look for the Positive
We all have those cheerleaders we can go to for a boost of support and encouragement, or we can identify the activities that fuel us. Turn away from the negative as much as possible and focus your energy on what and who builds you up, not cut you down.
While the term Tall Poppy Syndrome was coined in Australia, women all over the world may feel its effects. But just because women who are leaders may still stand out, don’t let the concerns prevent you from working hard and growing tall.