Don't be a Workplace Crab!

For part 1 of this post, see: Don’t Let the Crabs Pull You Down!

Crabs in the workplace are sometimes harder to avoid than personal connections. At home, you can ignore the phone, or say No to invitations.  But at work, they sit right next to you, or you have to work with them every day!  No matter the place, crabs will always seek to pull you down to the bottom of the bucket where they live.  Beware!

Who are the workplace crabs?  Here are some ways to spot them in the wild:

  • They often call themselves “realists** but then spend all their time whining about… well, much of everything.
  • They are often unwilling or unable to do the work required to get to the next level, but will blame others at every turn for denying them the opportunity.
  • They don’t like to see others succeed, and will often create or support gossip that implies success was unearned.
  • They often mock those who take risks, creating discomfort for those who stretch and take on extra assignments or apply for promotional opportunities.
  • They studiously avoid change, even when that change will benefit them.
    And please know that I acknowledge change can be very uncomfortable.  However, it’s one thing to avoid it yourself – that’s your own issue.  Crabs are those who try to guilt others into joining them in non-compliance or resistance.


** Note: I make a distinction between Optimists (those who look for the good and *usually* expect things to go well), and Pessimists (those who look for the worst and *usually* expect things to go wrong).  Realists, as far as I’m concerned, will hold a balanced point of view, for in reality some things go well and some things don’t.  When someone says they’re a Realist but then acts like a Pessimist, then I say: “If it quacks like a duck….”

An effective leader does not behave like a crab, at any time and in any venue. Moreover, most good leaders have little tolerance for crabs, as they have a toxic effect on the workplace team.  Still, crabs exist, for they often do their work under the sand, where they are not visible but they still undermine morale in the workplace.

ACTION ITEM: Pay attention to your language: How do you speak in the workplace?  Do you blame others for your troubles?  Do you refuse to try anything new?  Do you mock people who are willing to step up and try something new, or take on a new challenge?  Be careful… you may be a crab!

Remember, Leadership is not about a title: Anyone can be a leader who seeks to lift others up, not drag them down!

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