Clip Out the Tall Poppy Clippers
In this episode, you’ll learn techniques to maintain the enthusiasm and high energy that characterize likable individuals, even when you’re going through a rough patch. We’ll also discuss how to survive people who resent your popularity.
You probably know poppies are plants that grow colorful flowers, but have you ever heard of “Tall Poppy Syndrome”? It’s an Australian cultural expression that refers to the belief that anybody who displays success, high ability, or admirable qualities must be attacked, demeaned, and cut down to the common level.
Being warm (besides competent) will have you inspire admiration rather than envy, but you might still run into “tall poppy clippers”: people who resent your popularity and feel the need to ‘‘cut you down.’’
Learn to survive the envious hostility your success might arouse—and come out victorious and even more likable. Here’s how.
Last weekend, John and I took a spontaneous trip to Saint Louis, Missouri. At some point, not knowing what else to do, he said, “I’ve heard of a sculpture park with like, 70 sculptures.”
“Great idea,” I said, typed “sculpture park” in my maps app, and off we went. When we got there, it was far from what we’d expected.
We had no option but to laugh.
Still laughing, he said, “It was worth it!”
“How can driving across a city to see a park smaller than our front yard, with 2, not 70, sculptures, be worth it?” I skeptically asked.
“Because it was worth the laugh, and it gave us a fun story to tell!” he replied.
People like John because he notices (and says) what’s good about whatever happens.
Back to you. Are you usually positive? Or do you frequently think of how things were better in the past, or how things would be better “if only”? Are you constantly looking for “a hair in your soup,” so to speak?
Whenever you have negative thoughts, exercise gratitude, focus on what’s in your control, or look for the pitcher.
• Exercise gratitude. Make it a habit to randomly think of things you’re grateful for. Pick only two or three, and focus for a few minutes on one of them. Then go about your day. If you catch yourself complaining, make yourself appreciate what you have here and now. Repeat this quote, out loud: “If at night, you cry for the sun, the tears won’t let you enjoy the stars.” Then, find the stars and enjoy them.
• Focus on what’s in your control. A sure recipe for being unhappy (and unlikable) is this: Focus on what’s beyond your control. Performance consultant John Brubaker says, “It’s not about what’s happening around us or what’s happening to us, it’s about what’s happening inside us. Our biggest challenge is not the conditions or the competition, it’s ourselves.” Brubaker adds, “All you can control is your APE—attitude, process, and effort. Those are the only things you can control.” Focus on them.
• Look for the pitcher. Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, says it doesn’t matter if you see the glass half empty or half full. What matters is whether instead of focusing on the glass, you can imagine there’s a pitcher of water sitting next to it. If you can think of that pitcher, you’ll know that seeing the glass half full or half empty is irrelevant: What matters is that you can refill it.
Feed Your Emotional Energy
Likable people are energetic. But extraordinary life events (good or bad) deplete us of emotional energy—and it shows. To restore it:
• Do something exciting!
• Don’t take life too seriously.
• Quit caring about what others think of you. (As Deepak Chopra said, “What others think of you is none of your business.”)
Of course, start doing all those things your mom hammered you to do, but you still don’t do: Clean up your mess, take it easy on the video games, eat your veggies, leave the couch, and call her often. (Okay, the last one is optional.)
Surround Yourself with Likable People
You’ve already figured out you’ll need to clip the “tall poppy clippers” out of your life.
But have you heard of the “Rule of Five”? It says that within five years, you’ll become the average of the five people you hang out the most with.
I don’t know of any science behind that rule. But just in case, if the thought of that possibility scares you, do something about it. Perhaps gift each of your five cronies a subscription and recommend they take this course?
Kudos to you! You’ve made it!
Practice the techniques you’ve learned until they become second nature. If you do that, I guarantee you’ll be more likable and popular. If you still find a specific person who doesn’t like you, well, that’s their loss.
Good luck in your journey to becoming your most likable self!
See you soon.
P.S. I like you.
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