Mobbing and the Tallest Poppy: How Women’s Achievements at Work Are Cut Down.

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One crucial part of transforming conflict to harmony at work is addressing workplace mobbing and bullying. I myself experienced mobbing when I was a tenured faculty member at a community college and I know how horrific it can be. I have been on a mission ever since to bring light and positive change to this issue.

Mobbing can be defined as:

A malicious attempt by a group at work, with collusion or participation by bosses and administration, to emotionally destroy a person and force them out of the workplace through unjustified accusations, isolation, humiliation, general harassment, emotional abuse, and/or terror.

Common reasons people get mobbed include: Being different or a minority—not fitting in, especially if very competent and innovative; challenging or “threatening” the status quo; speaking up about problems or injustices.

Tall Poppy Syndrome.

Recently, my Australian colleague Muria Roberts, introduced me to a new term related to mobbing that comes from her part of the world:  tall poppy syndrome.

“The tallest poppy gets cut down,” is an Australian saying.

In American culture, people want to stand out and be recognized for their achievements. Many of us crave to be seen as special, as better than. But in Australian, it is much more important to fit in, to go along to get along. In Australia, anyone who stands out, but particularly high achieving women, will likely suffer pushback and negativity for offering their gifts and being successful. Individual achievements can be a source of resentment and hatred.

Dr. Rumeet Billan recently led an extensive international research project, The Tallest Poppy 2023, for the organization Women of Influence. After interviewing thousands of women from many countries, the study concludes that:

Women’s success is under attack all over the world. The more accomplished she is, the more likely she is to face aggressions, not only from those in positions of authority but from her peers.”

 These attacks are an aspect of workplace bullying and mobbing, and can include direct bullying; dismissal or downplaying of achievements; belittling: being ignored, silenced, undermined, or left out; microagressions; or others taking credit for their work. These acts of aggression against women were carried out by both men and women, primarily against women.

How can we change this? Awareness and Action.

Through my ­Coaching, teaching, and writing, I am one of many people working to transform conflict and make workplaces better.

My initial approach as I offer training, Coaching, consulting involves

  1. Individual—Help people at work become aware of these issues and why bullying, mobbing, and tall poppy syndrome are so harmful, not only to individuals, but to organizations
  2. Group—Training to introduce concepts, then reinforced with expand training and practice so leaders and others will be able to name the problems and intervene more effectively, to become upstanders and allies rather than bystanders or perpetrators
  3. Organization–to help organizations and companies develop strategies to address this issue, including new policies and procedures to help people report and deal with problems as they arise. New strategies for hiring to including conflict and anti-bullying skills as important qualifications and to select for individuals who will not add to bullying problems. Also on-boarding, mentoring and promotion practices that are supportive and egalitarian.

Mobbing and Tall Poppy Syndrome are wrong on every level. Allowing these practices to continue unchecked leads to a work force and leadership demoralized by negativity and rife with distrust. I invite all of you to begin educating yourselves about these issues and ask what you can do now to lead your organization or business to more harmony and productivity.

Mobbing And The Tallest Poppy &Raquo; LorraineonbenchcropcopyLorraine Segal has helped over 2000 leaders and others in organizations and corporations communicate more clearly, transform conflicts, and let go of resentments. The goal: to create a more harmonious and productive workplace.  Through her business, Conflict Remedy, Lorraine creates customized training and Coaching programs for non-profit organizations, corporations, and government agencies and Sonoma State University. She was recently named one of the top 15 coaches in Santa Rosa by Influence Digest. She is a contributing author to the book, Stand Up, Speak Out Against Workplace Bullying. Her latest project, a memoir called: Angels and Earthworms, an unexpected journey to love, joy, and miracles, is about her transformation from miserable self-doubt to self-acceptance, true love, spiritual awareness, and right livelihood. Find out more about the memoir here.Contact Lorraine through ConflictRemedy to request a free consultation for you and your organization or to sign up for her conflict remedy newsletter and blog.

Related blog posts plus additional information:

The Injury of Mobbing in the Workplace

The Craziness of Workplace Mobbing

The Tallest Poppy

© 2023 Lorraine Segal

The post Mobbing and the Tallest Poppy appeared first on Conflict Remedy.

Lorraine Segal Author, Presenter, Conflict Transformation Expert

After surviving the 50's and 60's, as well as twenty years in toxic academia as a tenured professor, Lorraine Segal was inspired to started her own business, Conflict Remedy (, happily offering DEIB informed teaching, coaching, blogging and consulting that promote workplace conflict transformation. She has helped over 2000 leaders in non-profits, corporations, and small businesses improve communication, harmony, and productivity at work. She is a contributing author to the anthology Stand Up, Speak Out Against Workplace Bullying.

Her recently published memoir called: Angels and Earthworms, an Unexpected Journey to Love, Joy, and Miracles, is about her own transformation from miserable self-doubt to self-acceptance, true love, spiritual awareness, and right livelihood.

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