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Crabs in a Barrel

I was captivated when I first saw the Dove ad campaign where a police sketch artist draws women as they describe themselves and then as others describe them (watch the ad). The commercial brought tears to my eyes. Within 24 hours I read three different blogs decrying the advertisement and detailing the many ways the ad campaign was wrong. I am all for disagreement and debate but what struck me the most about the criticism was the fact that they had nothing to offer. Dove’s Real Beauty campaign is unique in showing different shades and sizes of women as beautiful. Of course there is always room for improvement but they are offering an innovative and refreshing perspective of marketing in the beauty industry. They are doing something new and different so why so much backlash?

Crabs in a barrel.

Have you ever been to the Italian Market or any fish market where crabs are stuck together in a barrel? The moment the lid is opened one or two crabs try to climb out and escape. The reason that they fail each time is because the other crabs claw them back down. It is the other crabs that prevent them from leaving and escaping. Crabs in a barrel, haters, frenemies, jealous-types, we have different names for the same type of person. This is the person who sees something unique and good and rather than praise it and support the fact that it also helps and uplifts them, they work to destroy it.

Several years ago (when I had hair) I went to a beauty salon and was initially entranced by the warmth and welcoming nature of the owner. But visit after visit I noticed the small digs that she made about the other stylists. She also would gossip about patrons as soon as they left the shop though she had a “No Gossiping Rule.” The final straw for me was when one of the stylists decided to change how she ate. She wasn’t going on a diet but she was making a lifestyle change by adding exercise and changing her diet. Rather than praise and support her the owner would taunt her with the fried food that she ordered daily. Really?! It was easy to decide to find a new salon but what do you do when the crabs in your barrel are close to you, when they are people you love?

First, talk to them. Let them know that it upsets you/hurts your feelings/disappoints you when they don’t support and encourage what you are doing. Then tell them what you want. Do you want them to actively support you and help you? Do you want them to listen to your struggles and successes? Or do you want them to be quiet and not say anything?

Then pay attention to what they are doing. Are they able to do what you have asked of them? Are they now being supportive? Have they stopped making digs and nasty comments? If the answer is “yes” then celebrate! You asked for what you wanted and received it. Also, let them that you notice and appreciate the changes they made at your request. This reinforcement will go a long way towards their continuation of support.

Finally, if your frenemy or hater keeps on hating and trying to pull you back into the barrel it may be time to let go. This is much easier to do with a colleague or acquaintance. For a friend or family member letting go of the relationship may not be the answer. But it is time to change your expectations of them and reconsider what you share with them.

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