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The Tall Poppy Syndrome

A few months ago, I wanted to start a project and was told by some ‘friends’ that it was a waste of my time. I went ahead anyway. I realized then, and I see it even more clearly now as the ‘tall poppy syndrome’. It’s the habit of putting down people who are showing any hint of being clever or successful.

In India, we all saw this syndrome on display by politicians across parties knocking down the whole Aam Aadmi Movement. It would never work, they said. It does, and it did. Granted they’ve had only minor political success so far, but the movement has hit politicians where it hurts!

Today, I saw evidence of this syndrome once again in the Indian blogosphere. Someone decided that it was alright to publish a part of another blogger’s post and a comment from that blog publicly on their Facebook page and ridicule it. All this in the name of honesty!

We all poke fun of others from time to time. I do it too and it’s not something I’m proud of. However to constantly be cynical, to pick on people who can’t  or won’t fight back because they are too new or too young to, and to be mean in the name of honesty is something I do not appreciate. I have just one word for someone like that: bully!

My response to such a person is to cut them out of my circle. I do not want to be constantly listening to someone whinging about the world and everything else. I realize too that such people are insecure and want popularity at all costs!


And to the people who’ve been picked upon, and I know at least two of you, here’s my two bits of wisdom – for what it’s worth.

I recall the words of Oscar Wilde ‘ A cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.’ Remember, such people have never really done anything to make a difference. They just moan and grumble about things. Some people don’t want you to change, to grow, to find your way in the world. They just sit on the sidelines taking potshots at anyone who they see becoming a threat to them in some way. Know when it’s time to move on from them.

Surround yourself with people who want you to grow – who will give you genuine feedback and will be there to help you when you’re down.

And most of all – be yourself. Stick to what you believe in. Don’t try to please everyone, and end up displeasing the one person who matters the most – YOU.


  1. Melissa Melissa January 31, 2014

    Oh well, sometimes it’s not easy to get rid of them especially if you are working with them. But for the most part, I thank God that the people I encounter in my work place are mostly educators and therefore, they rejoice in my growth.

    I have learned many things the hard way but I did learn. I’ve learned to be more loving to myself. Well, yeah, I guess, cutting people off their habits of whining to make them aware of it is okay.

    Thank you for this post BS.
    Melissa recently posted..Epiphany: On Life and NatureMy Profile

  2. Rum Punch Drunk Rum Punch Drunk January 26, 2014

    Brilliant post Corinne. Spot on.

    If you have to bully, threaten or ridicule someone in order to be seen and heard, then I guess you’ve not got much of a life and need help in finding yourself.

    Sometimes people are good at what they do but others are so jealous of their work, that they’ll try everything to distract them from producing more good work.

    And I like the words of wisdom you also gave to the ones being picked on too.
    Rum Punch Drunk recently posted..Till Death Us Do Part?My Profile

  3. Rajlakshmi Rajlakshmi January 23, 2014

    To ridicule like that is indeed horrible. I love your thoughts… I have always kept myself away from people who try to pull down.. not only me but others as well.
    Rajlakshmi recently posted..55 Fiction – SelfishMy Profile

  4. Found In Folsom Found In Folsom January 22, 2014

    A very thought provoking post, Corinne. I am glad I don’t have many people who pull me down around me. But, how blatant is that posting other people’s posts on FB? And attention grabbers, best medicine for them is ignorance.
    Found In Folsom recently posted..A Woman with an enlarged heart!!!My Profile

  5. Dilip Dilip January 19, 2014

    My first visit and I enjoyed reading some of your posts! On this one I entirely agree with you “Surround yourself with people who want you to grow..” and to believe in ourselves.
    Have a lovely Sunday πŸ™‚
    Dilip recently posted..What can a child teach elders?My Profile

  6. Suzy Suzy January 18, 2014

    Cyber bullying is rife everywhere. Thanks for informing us. Yes, best to move away when that happens. Very well written. Hugs.
    Suzy recently posted..UBC Day 17 – The Little ShoeMy Profile

  7. Rekha Rekha January 17, 2014

    Corinne, a bug hug to you for having written this one. I get your point and have seen some such cynics who constantly pull you down. It really helps to have them out of your circle and your life. I have learnt my lessons the hard way and have learnt to move on and chose to ignore anything and everything from such judgmental lot. How good it would be if they realized what they do indirectly by hurting and breaking someone’s confidence could be told in a subtle manner to make the person improve themselves. Thank you for sharing this one. πŸ™‚

  8. Jeevan Jacob John Jeevan Jacob John January 17, 2014


    While constructive criticism is valuable, comments such as we can’t do just plain useless.

    Don’t let those people get to you…because we can all do things, things beyond our wildest imagination.

    All we have to do is keep trying (of course, prioritize and strategize, because that will save us a lot of time and effort).

    Thank you for sharing this post, Corinne πŸ™‚

    Btw, loved the image πŸ˜€
    Jeevan Jacob John recently posted..Goals, Resolutions and Motives – Why?My Profile

  9. Debbie Debbie January 16, 2014

    Good advice, Corinne! Life is too short to dally with assholes. In many cases, as you said, it’s because the person is insecure. They feel bad about themselves and in order to feel better, they trash someone else. Or, perhaps they’re just jealous? In any case I agree – give them the old “Heave Ho”. πŸ™‚

  10. Rahul Rahul January 16, 2014

    The dead wood should be chopped and got rid off! So agree with what you wrote Corinne!

  11. Bhavya Bhavya January 16, 2014

    Bullying is the word for it, but I cannot find peace until justice is restored. I’m not talking about revenge, but isn’t there some way to get back at the bully and Br even with him/her? It doesn’t feel fair to let them go scot free πŸ™
    Bhavya recently posted..Book Review – The Guardian AngelsMy Profile

  12. Martha Orlando Martha Orlando January 15, 2014

    Exactly! It’s the people who tear down others who don’t think much of themselves. We need to move out of and away from those who seek to belittle our lives and live purposefully, trusting in the Lord who loves us.
    Great post as always, Corinne!
    Martha Orlando recently posted..Keep Calm and Carry OnMy Profile

    • keith keith January 21, 2014

      Studies have shown that the belittlers actually have a high self appraisal of themselves. They are vain. They must insult others who might stand in the way of their undue self image.

  13. Dorothy Johnson Dorothy Johnson January 15, 2014

    Excellent insight into the roots of bullying, as well as good advice about moving out of negative relationships toward associations that build up and encourage. May we all become encouragers! Thank you!

  14. Shilpa Garg Shilpa Garg January 15, 2014

    Yes, bullying is the word. Mocking and assaulting somebody’s dignity to make or keep friends speaks a lot about such people! Keeping your circle of people always positive is the way forward! A fab post, Corinne! πŸ™‚
    Shilpa Garg recently posted..14 Jan’14My Profile

  15. Aditi Aditi January 15, 2014

    Corinne, someone somewhere is thanking you for this post! I am too…*hugs*…for the pathetic bully, yes the best way is to simply cut all possible connection with this negative person. And your advise to the people who have been picked on…pearls of wisdom! Loved this post!

  16. Mary Stephenson Mary Stephenson January 15, 2014

    Hi Corinne

    What do they say…”If you can’t say something good about someone say nothing at all.” Sure wish a lot more would follow that, life would be so much better for the rest of us.

    Many that tell you that you can’t do something either don’t want you to succeed or think they know everything. So unless they have already done and proved it to be a waste of time or were unsuccessful, then they have no right to be handing out wisdom!

    Yep, we need to stay away from those that try to drag us down.

    Mary Stephenson recently posted..The Principle of EthicsMy Profile

  17. Sheethal Sheethal January 15, 2014

    As long as we have choices to keep away from these people or to say what they have to hear… to an extend these can be reduced I think. Great article as always! πŸ™‚
    Sheethal recently posted..Wordless…My Profile

  18. Kathy Kathy January 15, 2014

    Well said Corinne! A person should not be afraid to cut such people out of their lives. Without them, the quality of life is sure to improve. I don’t believe in putting people down as a general rule. If I can’t say something nice, I don’t say anything at all and believe me there is always something nice to be said. Awful how another’s words can cut life a knife.
    Kathy recently posted..You and MeMy Profile

  19. Michelle Liew Michelle Liew January 14, 2014

    I agree……we should surround ourselves with people with good intentions. Cut toxicity out of our circles!
    Michelle Liew recently posted..2013 Contrary MotionMy Profile

  20. Jyothi Nair Jyothi Nair January 14, 2014

    Oh yes, I agree totally agree with Meena. The “mindless follow syndrome” is the reason for this. Just do and say things to please the slightly popular ones to become popular themselves. And speaking as as person who has been a victim to this in the blogosphere, I know how it hurts. But we learn , we grow. Loved that last sentence Corinne. <3
    Jyothi Nair recently posted..Book : Sirens Spell DangerMy Profile

  21. Obsessivemom Obsessivemom January 14, 2014

    Wonderful post Corinne. That’s the easiest way to become popular .. By pulling someone else down. And you’ll always find supporters. Yeah the AAP is a great example. It’s easy to not stick your neck out, to not try.. Trying and failing needs courage and a cynic is a coward.

  22. Vidya Sury Vidya Sury January 14, 2014

    I loved this post! I see instances of this regularly by holier-than-thou people who get their daily joy by squashing someone down. Never a word of encouragement or appreciation. And they do it publicly – which is what disgusts me.

    I admire you for writing this, Corinne. Hugs!
    Vidya Sury recently posted..Mindful Living Through Simple PleasuresMy Profile

  23. Seeta Seeta January 14, 2014

    Very well put Corinne and loved the quote by Oscar Wilde.., while I am glad I did not have the unfortunate experience of witnessing that act of bullying, it does sadden the mind to think we have such bloggers around us πŸ™
    Seeta recently posted..Hoping for HopeMy Profile

  24. usha menon usha menon January 14, 2014

    Your article is an eye opener. I never thought that people stoop so low to get popularity. It is better not to write any thing by resorting to such mean practices.
    usha menon recently posted..Lohri festivalMy Profile

  25. Sid Sid January 14, 2014

    Brilliantly put Corinne. In their place, I’d say. IT’s’s the meek followers (as Meena said) who fuel the “bullying behaviour” of these. I’m not sure what the post was or what the comment was, but I’m sure since it yet another act of cyber bullying in the blogosphere. We need to cut them down πŸ™‚ Great post !
    Sid recently posted..The Red CarpetMy Profile

  26. sugandha sugandha January 14, 2014

    Shall we not call your post two minutes of wisdom? Wonderfully said. I agree on your take on political cynicism. Also, in personal life, I have manage to beat the criticism and come back to blog after small phases of let down.
    Probably that’s what I need to do. Cut a few out of my personal circle.

  27. Sulekha Sulekha January 14, 2014

    Courage is standing up for those who can’t fight back, and we all need to display this kind of bravery. It is sad whne people hurt others in the name of being frank and open. There is a thin line between being mean and being outspoken, let no one cross that invisible line. Loved the way you have put your thoughts across without singling out or naming the person, hope they get the hint.

  28. Vaisakh Vaisakh January 14, 2014

    Bullying – yes, that’s how it should be called. This post actually brought a few faces to my mind.. Loved that quote by Oscar Wilde..
    Vaisakh recently posted..The helping handMy Profile

  29. Proactive Indian Proactive Indian January 14, 2014

    Your “two bits of wisdom” are worth a lot!

    “Be yourself. Stick to what you believe in. Don’t try to please everyone, and end up displeasing the one person who matters the most – YOU.” Unfortunately, many people try to please everybody else but themselves. As far as I am concerned, each person should only try to please his/her conscience!

    I fully agree with you about ‘poking fun at others’. When I came across one such instance on a blog, I sent an email to the blogger. (I wanted my feedback to be private, particularly since I thought the blogger was inadvertently insensitive.) The blogger was kind enough to reply, but simply stated, “It was meant to be harmless fun.” I didn’t bother to reply, but I’m sure that blogger would not like to be the target of similar ‘harmless fun’!
    Proactive Indian recently posted..Let us stop scoring self-goalsMy Profile

  30. Meena Menon Meena Menon January 14, 2014

    Cory, this “tall syndrome” is partly due to the meek followers who are more than happy to chip in with a “Aye” for everything right or wrong! Well it will continue until the day , the follower is picked on and bullied mercilessly!
    Meena Menon recently posted..Stranger In The NightMy Profile

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