US expat slams Aussies over Tall Poppy Syndrome in the workplace

A US expat has garnered significant online attention after claiming Aussies will “sabotage” you in the workplace if they believe you are becoming more successful than them.

The comments were made by conservative American podcaster Elijah Schaffer, who now lives in Australia with his wife.

His complaints about Australia’s “toxic” Tall Poppy Syndrome came as he shared a TikTok video from user @realtradingpool, who claimed Australia is “one of the hardest countries to become successful in” because you are unlikely to get support or help from anyone.

“Most people in Australia, they love to drink, they love to do drugs, they love to go out on the weekends and they love to get smashed. Everyone here just loves hook-up culture as well,” the cryptocurrency trader claimed in the video.

“If you try to do anything that is remotely different, if you try to go out on your own path and do something and make something for yourself, nobody is going to support you. They will just try to tear you down and bring you back down to their level.”

The TikToker claimed this is because Australians don’t want to see other people doing better than them.

Schaffer shared the video to X, formerly Twitter, warning people to be “very careful” when it comes to working with Australians.

He noted that while he loves some aspects of Aussie culture, Australian people can become “extremely destructive” when they become jealous in the workplace.

“It’s called Tall Poppy Syndrome & if they don’t think you deserve success, they’ll sabotage you to ruin your life. I’ve seen it out here a lot, it’s so common people just act like it’s normal,” he wrote.

“Even Aussies abroad often are involved in extremely toxic work behaviour of slander, lawsuits etc – poor guy is getting the good ol’ aussie treatment.”

According to the podcaster, this difference in behaviour is why Americans are “so successful”, as they don’t punish people for trying to get ahead and instead team up with them.

He also claimed Australians are “chill people” until you meet the wrong ones.

“I don’t get why people here are like that. Even if you talk about an accomplishment, they often talk shit behind your back & rip you apart. Lots of back stabbers,” he said.

“Google it, it’s genuinely a cultural epidemic & causes so much avoidable drama.”

The post quickly went viral, earning more than 3600 likes and racking up more than 800 comments, with many social media users agreeing with his assessment of Aussies.

Schaffer claimed it was “comforting” to see so many people have had the same experience with “unhinged” Aussies, but clarified that it doesn’t mean there aren’t a “ton of good ones”.

“Usually it’s the lower class that pull down or narcissists,” he added.

US influencer Aubrey Strobel shared her own experience working with Australians, noting they are the funniest and “most chill” people until you “crush it at your job”.

An Australian commenter also agreed, claiming we often hide our talents and self-deprecate in order to avoid “envy and hostility” from others.

“If you make something great, you become a target. If you show initiative and it undermines someone’s ego, you become a target,” he said.

Another person claimed Tall Poppy Syndrome is possibly the “worst thing about Australian culture”.

However, not everyone thought it was fair to single-out Australians, with American former professional boxer Tommy Morrison saying this kind of behaviour also happens in the US.

“Jealousy is not an Australian invention. It’s a human trait,” he said.

Another person claimed Schaffer was wrong in his understanding of how Tall Poppy Syndrome usually works in Australia, claiming Aussies will only cut someone down if they brag about their success or “generally become a wanker”.

“Wrong. There average aussie doesn’t mind success, we just don’t like people who brag about it endlessly, or think that it somehow makes them better than everyone else,” another said.

The different ways Tall Poppy Syndrome manifests, particularly in Australia, is a subject that is continually being scrutinised.

Tall Poppy Syndrome in the workplace is a topic that was recently discussed on The Driven Woman podcast with Lisa Milligan, founder of human resource consulting organisation, The Culture Ministry.

Ms Mulligan grew up in Australia and shared her view on the way this syndrome actually plays out in Aussie society.

“There’s a real sense of fairness in Australia. Australia is about having a fair go and being given a fair go but also not getting above yourself and not thinking you’re more important than anyone else, and kind of keeping a lid on your ambitions and things like that,” she explained.

“And in the workplace, the way that plays out is that the hierarchy that exists in workplaces is very flat often in Australian organisations because we feel like, ‘Well, I could be an entry level graduate, but I’m as important as the CEO and I should be able to go talk to that CEO’.”

She said there were some advantages to that kind of culture, such as Australians often sitting in the front seat of a taxi because they don’t want to feel like they are “more special” than the driver.

However, she claimed if you are trying to be better or get ahead in life then it also means people will “try and keep you down”.

Ms Mulligan suggested this is part of the reason many Aussies like going to the US, because it is a completely culture flip, with Americans having the confidence to “do whatever you want” without fear of others taking you down.

“But this Australian thing, and I don’t know if it’s come from the history of how Australian started Australia was colonised I guess a lot of convicts that came from the UK,” she said.

“Maybe to survive everyone just had to get on and work together and not be more important than someone else.

“But it has endured and it is part of the culture and I think it must be fascinating for other people to, especially from the US where it’s the opposite.”

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