Understanding the behaviours scarcity mindset attracts

Marketing and business wouldn’t be where they are without scarcity mindset. It’s our “buy now!” moments in life that get the sales humming. This in itself isn’t all bad.

Scarcity mindset may be powerful in terms of marketing, but it can also be difficult to switch off from and become a pervasive drive. This drive can influence behaviours and decisions in a seriously negative way.

Let’s take a look at some of the common behaviours that scarcity mindset can create when we allow the balance to tip far too much.


White-anting is a term coined in Australian workplace and business circles. It means to undermine or attack the foundations of someone else’s reputation to weaken their status in a working environment. It has been recognised by leadership experts and business coaches as having a greater likelihood of occurring in highly competitive workplaces and fields.

Unfortunately, white-anting is rife in small business and freelance circles due to entrenched worries about work drying up. Scarcity mindset rules interactions and the desire to knock others down. One look at many major business forums on Facebook or the like can see active demonstrations of where participants are looking to tear others down. The problem with white-anting is that in a highly visible business setting such as today, there is generally no escape from it.

Being unable to escape from commentary on social media and blogs can be a continued source of stress for both parties. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to face this form of reputational ruin on a regular basis due to the internet being ever present.

It’s also an unhealthy psychological state to be in for the person delivering the white-anting. It can lead to feelings of paranoia, persecution and concern that they too may be on the receiving end of white-anting.

Often the damage done by white-anting is done well before the subject realises they are on the receiving end. But the good news is, most people that engage in white-anting end up short circuiting their sphere of influence by continuing to white-ant multiple people.

Covert aggression

Covert aggression and passive aggressive traits are often confused for each other. But they are distinct in many ways. Covert aggression is a term coined and investigated at length by clinical psychologist, Dr George K Simon. It’s the basic manoeuvre of trying to win a situation or gain an advantage by the use of deception.

It can include feigning that the person misunderstood the situation for what it was (e.g. with gaslighting), using subtle techniques that are directed to one person that has knowledge of coded intent, and generally attempting to make others feel unhappy and uneasy through subtle manipulation.

In small business, this often plays out on social media. The famous critical Facebook post that is meant to make a person feel bad while garnering the respect of the audience and having them cheer on the antics are a classic example. It can also come through in snide introductions in professional settings, accidentally calling someone names or second guessing their abilities.

Planting seeds of doubt are another technique chosen by the covert aggressor under the guise of assistance.

Some examples of covert aggression:

Saying to a highly creative person “you’re a doer!” when talking about success through application as opposed to ability is covert aggression.

Another act may be to see someone else’s work being praised and to jump in with commentary designed to usurp or diminish another person’s right to claim authority.

The intent is incredibly clear to recipient yet covered to an unsuspecting audience. Hence Dr Simon’s original book on the subject alluding to the “wolf in sheep’s clothing”.

Covert aggression is difficult to overcome because it’s usually deeply entrenched and can be a symptom of disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder or Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Not giving the emotional reaction and establishing clear boundaries of what you will and won’t accept in terms of behaviour can help.

 Queen Bee Syndrome

While Queen Bee Syndrome may not be as significant issue as previously thought, it still influences how women in business behave. The hypothesis is that in areas where women have to prove themselves in traditionally masculine or male dominated arenas, women see their fellow female counterparts as a greater direct threat to their success.

This can translate into bullying, distancing, argumentative behaviours, hyper-competitiveness and undermining the work of others. In an environment such as small business where it is everyone for themselves and the masculine undercurrent remains, this could potentially go some way towards explaining the issue in female to female conflict in small business. Again, the scarcity mindset influences individuals to believe if they don’t knobble the competition, they may miss out on work.

Anecdotally, when asking both male and female small business owners, freelancers and startup founders whether they have seen Queen Bee syndrome in this setting, all agreed it existed. It was further labelled as lead by female aggressors, generally directed to other women.

The resounding answer as to why this may be was that “men would shut the behaviour down”.

When greeted with a Queen Bee, stick to the facts and do what you can to remain off their radar.

Self doubt

It isn’t only how the scarcity mindset influences our dealings with others, it’s also the problematic nature of what it creates within us.

If we buy into the mindset of scarcity with work, money and opportunity, it can heighten feelings of insecurity and doubt. If we buy into the mindset, we start believing and investing in the power of it.

Once self doubt creeps in, we welcome the haze of uncertainty. If we’ve spent time holding onto to the powerful cream rising to the top and that only people that meet our exacting standards are worthy, we turn inward. Our mistakes become magnified. Our failures are so much more personal.

The world begins to be a place that mirrors only us so therefore when things are bad, we have somehow managed to invite them.

Such weight of self doubt can lead to lowered resilience and the inability to cope with stressors. Furthermore, this self doubt can lead to feelings of loss, hopelessness and powerlessness. This cycle perpetuates to become a self fulfilling prophecy.

Shaking these feelings is usually achieved by returning to the why of your self employment experience and remembering what motivated you to start the journey.

Analysis paralysis

We have the flight, fight and freeze modes of action when we feel a perceived threat. One of the issues with scarcity mindset is it awakens these feelings and we will enact our go-to method of action.

Freezing is part of this.

So if you find yourself unable to produce work because you start worrying about someone else to the point where you think they are stealing work from you, you can start to lock up or freeze.

Always return to the main motivations you chose your business. Think about your marketing as a way of inventing yourself and being a creative playground.

Forget about the Joneses and get on with creating stuff that interests you. That usually fixes those lingering doubts quite quickly.

The bottom line on scarcity mindset

You don’t have to buy in on or accept the behaviours of others in the thrall of the scarcity mindset. All you’ll gain are insecurities, feelings of jealousy and limit your ability to create works you genuinely like by focusing too much on others.

You can look for the positives with this article on beating scarcity mindset blues and why it makes you look foolish to let scarcity rule your business choices.

Want to fortify yourself against scarcity in your self employment journey? call on me for some coaching now. 

2 Comments. Leave new

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.