Lately, I noticed some of my peers being victims of, and perpetrators of, crab mentality. As a quick refresh, online encyclopedias define crab mentality as a metaphor operating in this way of thinking: if I can’t have it, neither can you. It is derived from the behavior of crabs, which, when placed in a bucket, will grab at each other in a useless “king of the hill” competition driven by the desire to prevent every one to escape. In this case, everyone is doomed to their own demise. Wikipedia notes that it is also “the analogy in human behavior is that members of the group will attempt to ‘pull down’ (negate or diminish the importance of) any member who achieves success beyond others, out of envy, conspiracy or competitive feelings”.
In today’s age of social media, overcompetition and higher expectations, it’s not surprising how crab mentality can easily crawl in our systems. In fact, in our heads, we can be guilty of this sometimes. On the other hand, we can also agree that this is really bad for all of us so we must actively find ways to fight it. Whether you admit it or not, it’s a huge career and personal relationship poison. The good news is that you can have the antidote to this poison and you can use it on both ends. You can avoid being a victim, and a perpetrator. Here are a few suggestions to fight crab mentality:
*Accept that in your field, there will always be people who are worse and better than you. Whatever you do, no matter how long you’ve stayed in your industry, there will always be someone who’s more experienced, the one who’s been in more places, the one who has the bigger projects. Chill. Accept this and accept that it’s not the end. You can still do better. To do so, use this as an inspiration and a positive challenge. Also think of those who are just starting in your field and rekindle nostalgic charms instead of trying to put them down.
*If you have a friend who failed at a job or a responsibility, give sincere advice instead of backbiting them. Pepper this with a gentle voice, a few compliments, and a lot of understanding. If you aren’t the client anyway, the only obvious driving force you have when you talk crap behind their back is crab mentality. If you truly care, encourage them to be better at what they do and motivate them. Their success is your happiness too. Isn’t that what friendship should be about? It’s sad that even “friends” suffer from crab mentality too. Yet again, remember: you can change that.
*Surround yourself with positive influence. It’s surprising how, at times, you can be overly cautious about people’s intentions that you are always on your feet. When somebody tries to do something good to you, you might find yourself doubting if they have ulterior motives or they’re just plain nice. What you can do is surround yourself with positive people and spend more time with them. This way, you’ll find yourself becoming more inspired, complaining less, and this way you’ll be less likely to be a victim AND a perpetrator of crab mentality. It’s a sure win!
We know it’s a pretty tough ride. I don’t know how crab mentality became a very Filipino attitude. In fact, when I searched “crab mentality” on the internet, I found links describing Filipinos, Tagalog quotes, et cetera. It’s sad, but we can change this. Hit me more ideas at the comment box. :-*