How to Deal with Haters: Tall Poppy Syndrome

Haters are an inconvenient reality. So how do we deal with them?

Total Reading Time: 3 minutes.

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?

Have you ever heard of Tall Poppy Syndrome? It’s a non-U.S. term (generally Australia and the U.K.) used to describe the odd situation that occurs when a person deserving of praise is instead criticized, put down, attacked, etc. by haters or negatrons, as I like to call them. This usually happens when a person decides to create new habits, or simply achieves more than before. In other words, they stand out from the crowd—or figuratively—grow too tall in a field of equal-sized poppy’s.

If you ever choose to do something grandiose that others around you are too afraid to do themselves, get ready for the haters. Sadly, this experience can also occur with something as simple as waking up earlier, not drinking alcohol as often, or starting an online business. In my experience since venturing off into the world of solopreneurship and creating a Freedom Lifestyle, I’ve experienced my fair share of negative comments, criticism, and even subliminal jealousy.

While a good percentage of your friends and network will be supportive of your desire to grow, others 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 for a person who lives in a state of envy—a bonafide hater. And while they may not entirely intend to sound or behave this way, it can and will affect you. 

You may also notice that the people you assumed would be the most supportive and want to celebrate alongside you are actually the most hesitant. What an interesting phenomenon!

On the other hand, a lot of new faces may appear to tell you how proud, inspired, or excited they are for you. When I committed to becoming a solopreneur after realizing there were more than enough solid reasons to make the leap, I was grateful to receive so many positive comments from friends, and even friends of friends.

Yet why is it so common that your best friends, colleagues—perhaps even your own family—are the most apathetic about your success and newly chosen path? 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. Be prepared. The more you grow, the more haters you will attract and the more negative, snarky comments you will receive.


A Solution for Dealing with Haters.

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 (ideally through a mastermind) 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 throughout the journey.


Remember This Truth.

You are the average 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?

Have you seen The Pursuit of Happyness with Will Smith before? The underlying principle of this film can be summed up in this 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.

This is a beautiful scene for many reasons, but ultimately, Will Smith’s character is warning his son to never listen to any haters. Even he, as a loving and supportive father, could be at risk of discouraging someone he loves from his own dreams.

Protect your dreams. Onward and upward.

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Photo credit: HatersCC license

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About Arman Assadi

Owner of Assadi Media LLC. He is a solopreneur and writer at, consultant to multiple serial entrepreneurs and NYT #1 bestselling authors, contributor to global authority sites, former Googler, and online educator. Arman helps aspiring and existing solopreneurs create their own Freedom Lifestyle and build creative online businesses.
  • 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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  • TPSKills

    University research indicates that tall poppy syndrome reduces performance by around 20%.

    • Arman Assadi

      Excellent resource, thanks for sharing.