How to Deal with Haters: Tall Poppy Syndrome

Will Smith Quote - haters are the people who will broadcast your failures and whisper your successes.
An inconvenient truth. So how do we deal with them?

Total Reading Time: 3 minutes

Have you ever heard of Tall Poppy Syndrome? It’s a non-U.S. term used to describe the situation that occurs when someone is criticized, put down, etc. by “haters”, or “negatrons” as I like to call them. This usually happens when they’re growing and achieving/accomplishing more than ever before. In other words, they are standing out—or figuratively—growing too tall in a field of equal-sized poppy’s.

If you ever decide to do something grandiose or enormous that others around you are too afraid to do, and really take on this new challenge or project—get ready for the haters. In the few short months that I’ve ventured off into the world of entrepreneurship, solopreneurship, and creating my own Freedom Lifestyle, I’ve experienced my fair share of negative comments, criticism, and even jealousy.

Now, let me be clear, a good percentage of my friends and network have been extremely supportive, and you too will have your share of cheerleaders and positive supporters. However, a lot of people will automatically make snarky comments, and will be the first to bring down your latest successes and accomplishments. It’s simply a natural, gut-level reaction. And while they may not mean to sound or behave so negatively, it can and will affect you.

You may also notice that the people you expected to be the most supportive and celebrate with you are the ones that are the most hesitant. What an interesting phenomenon! A lot of new faces may appear to tell you they’re proud of you, inspired by you, or just simply excited. When I committed to becoming a Solopreneur after seeing there were more than enough solid reasons to make the leap, I was ecstatic to receive so many positive, supportive comments from friends, and even friends of friends.

Why is it that your best friends, colleagues, perhaps even your own family, are the most apathetic about your success? Well, it looks like you’ve grown too tall, friendo. You’re no longer part of the same peer group. You’re no longer there to commiserate and sympathize with the old daily struggles.

Here’s the cold, hard truth: This isn’t going to change. The more you grow, the more haters you will attract and the more negative, snarky comments you will receive.

A Solution: 

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. It may be time to evaluate how much time you’re spending with these people and which of those categories they best fit. I know it’s easier said than done, but don’t worry about them!

Surround yourself with more positive people and set higher standards every single day. The key to success is having a peer group that challenges you, motivates you, and is there to celebrate and congratulate you with every single success along your journey. After all, if you do that for others, why shouldn’t you expect the same?


You are a product of the five people you associate with the most. Are the five people you’re currently spending the most time with aligned with your vision for success?

Onward and upward! =)

P.S. I recently watched The Pursuit of Happyness with Will Smith again. What an incredible movie! The underlying principle of the movie can be summed up in this one quote by Will Smith’s character:

Don’t ever let somebody tell you you can’t do something…You got a dream? You gotta protect it. If people can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want something, go get it. Period.”

Here’s the short clip from the movie below.

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About Arman Assadi

Founder and Chief Solopreneur of —Freedom Lifestyle HQ. Arman is a writer, soccer player, and obsessive world traveler. He is also Board of Directors President for Traveling Stories—a 501c3 nonprofit organization working to outsmart poverty one book at a time.
  • Jen

    Great post Arman. Love the phrase “tall poppy syndrome.” I’m definitely gonna use it. The post made me think of this quote:

    “If you don’t have haters you aren’t doing enough to disrupt the status quo.” -@petershankman

    While not the same as being a tall poppy, it’s a different angle on understanding how opposition fits into a courageous life of freedom.

    • Arman Assadi


      Thanks for the kind words. Love the quote, appreciate you sharing it!

      Looking forward to your take on future posts, can’t wait to hear more from you.

      All the best,

  • Chimere

    What a delightfuly refreshing article! I enjoyed the parallel of the field of poppies. I, as well have ventured into the exciting arena of entrepreneurship and already experienced a mixture of feedback.
    Its actually comforting to come to terms with the fact that it is all a part of the larger process. My evolution towards success. Thank you for the frank insight and unabashed perspective. I hope for more thoughts from your end!

    • Arman Assadi


      Glad you enjoyed the article! I really enjoyed the Tall Poppy Syndrome metaphor when I first heard it, and wanted to share it immediately.

      So exciting about your new venture. I’m sure you’re already getting a taste for the rewards. Keep up the great work and please keep me updated. I look forward to hearing more from you soon!


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