short man syndrome

What Is Short Man Syndrome Psychology?

Short man syndrome is a type of psychology/mindset of those guys who feel they are shorter than average. The average men’s height in the US and UK is 5ft 9. As a result of feeling shorter than average, a short man may exhibit coldness, narcissism and short-temper.

In short (no pun intended!), a short man will feel like he’s hard done by and take it out on the world.

This isn’t always the case, but as a short man (5ft 6) myself – I can relate to those qualities. It’s more common than you think!

The ‘short man complex’ is that he feels inadequate and insecure because of his height, and he overcompensates.

Traits of Short Man Syndrome & How Did It Occur?

People with ‘short man syndrome’ can be:

  • Aggressive
  • Selfish
  • Insecure
  • Domineering
  • Feel like they’re being made fun of
  • Up-tight
  • Demand respect

I know because I used to be that guy!

This is usually because as a child, that guy didn’t feel physically on par with his friends and peers, and was probably teased. He started off small at school and was seen as secondary or an ‘after-thought’.

This insecurity carried on to teenage years when the boy would struggle to get female attention, and may even struggle in sports or social events.

Feeling ‘inadequate’, the short person will put on a shield or learn to mask their insecurities by appearing cold or unfriendly in interactions. Believe me, it’s all a cover! They’re not really like this at all.

A lot of adults play out their lives based on their childhood experiences and memories. If an adult was abused, ignored or felt inadequate as a child – then those scars would usually carry on to adult life. As an adult, we then develop those behaviours and tools to protect ourselves from those unfriendly interactions were experienced in our earlier life. It’s as if the person with short man syndrome knows that he’s bound to face those unwanted comments again, and so puts up a defence.

What Is Napoléon Complex or Napoléon Syndrome?

The Napoleon Complex was identified in the 60s by an Austrian Psychoanalyst. Named after French Leader Napoleon Bonaparte who was 5 ft 6 – and was often mocked by people for appearing short.

On top of this, he didn’t help himself with his general demeanour and character which was aggressive and self-centred. People attribute Napoleon’s characteristics to the fact that he was short (thought not much below average!) compared to his military peers and so had to overcompensate by demanding respect.

You can also replace ‘Napoleon’ complex with ‘Joe Peschi complex’, ‘Danny Devito complex’ or ‘Nicolas Sarkozy complex’!

5 Ways To Overcome Short Man Syndrome!

How to be confident as a short person?

Ok so you may have heard the stats that tall people are more successful in their careers, wealthier and have better love lives. Basically, the general consensus is that taller people are generally more charismatic, personable and get their way.

The short person may have heard this too and probably uses this to fuel his frustration further, and continue with the same behaviours.

The truth is – if you’re a short man, you don’t need to feel and act this way. There are ways around it, and as a short man, the following certainly helped me boost my confidence and self-esteem. And no – you don’t need leg lengthening surgery or platform shoes!

I went from a nervous, unconfident man to being open, friendly and confident socially. I no longer feel uncomfortable when next to taller people. Here’s 5 ways how I made the shift.

The first thing you need to do is improve your appearance. There are 3 things to work on: physique, dress, face and hair.

1. Physique

Ok, so you can’t do anything about your height. But what you can do is improve the rest of your body by working out. Someone who feels good about their body will generally be more confident and won’t be bothered about their height so much. As a short guy, I would advise doing strength training where you are building muscle and have a V-shaped body without overdoing it and looking like hulk. Getting a defined and aesthetically pleasing body will do wonders. The last thing you want is to be short and scrawny!

So how do you get a muscular V-shaped body?

Simple – do a full body workout at the gym at least 4 times a week.

Each session should last you 50-60 minutes, and you should ensure that you target your legs, back, chest, shoulders and arms in each workout.

That means aiming for 2-3 exercises per muscle group so that you can fit it all in. In addition, you want to work those larger muscle groups at the start of your workout, i.e. chest and legs.

Below is a list of potential exercises you can do for each muscle group.

For each workout session, choose 2 from each muscle group:

Chest –

  • Flat bench press
  • Incline chest press
  • Dumbbell press
  • Cable flies

Back –

  • Pull-ups (moving to weighted pull-ups when you can)
  • Lateral row
  • Lateral raise
  • Dumbbell row
  • Deadlift (also targets legs, shoulders)

Legs –

  • Squats
  • Bulgarian split squats
  • Leg extension
  • Hamstring extension
  • Glutes raises
  • Calf raises

Shoulders –

  • Pull-ups
  • Seated/standing dumbbell raise
  • Standing barbell raise
  • Lateral shoulder raise

Arms –

  • Standing dumbbell/barbell curl
  • Incline seated curl
  • Spider curls
  • Tricep extensions using cable fly
  • Tricep extension throws
  • Lying tricep extension

You should track your weights and reps, and aim for progression each month.

Getting a thicker chest, arms and neck will look great in the mirror, when wearing a t-shirt or at the beach. Who cares about your height when you’re ripped!

Along with working out regularly, your diet should be sensible too. Eating a diet of fruit, veggies and water will not only provide you with the essential vitamins and fluids to support your body, but it will show on your face.

Working out combined with the right diet will give you that glow and freshness that naturally makes you feel better about yourself.

Also, if you’re a short guy you generally want to avoid a heavy beard. I will always advise going clean-shaven, but a little stable is fine. You’ll want to show off as much of your face as possible. That includes your forehead as I’ll explain below.

2. Hair

This is a really important one when trying to take attention away from your height.


Because I’ve seen guys with hairstyles that make them look even shorter! Avoid those hairstyles that cover your forehead, and opt for those hairstyles and haircuts that reveal more of your temples and forehead. Showing your forehead and more of your face is another way to look more confident and ‘taller’. You’ll find that most tall, handsome guys have broad foreheads and hairstyles that compliment that look.

Here are some haircuts to avoid and opt for if you’re a short person:


Try these instead:

As you can see these hairstyles are neater and reveal more of the forehead and face.

My overall tips on hair for shorter guys:

  • Keep it short-medium length (not long)
  • Avoid using greasy hair products
  • Keep your sideburns short! Long sideburns make you look shorter
  • Have hairstyles and cuts that reveal your forehead and temples as much as possible

3. Dress and Shoes

  • Don’t have contrasting colours between your top and bottom half, i.e. blue top and red trousers.
  • Wear dark or pastel colours, but keep it consistent, i.e. dark blue shirt and black jeans, or white tee and light-coloured chinos
  • Avoid baggy clothes.
  • Make sure your tee, jumper or shirt isn’t too long. You ideally want it to end near your crotch area
  • Wear tapered clothes (but avoid ‘muscle-fit’ and very tight clothing)
  • Avoid low-rise trousers
  • For trousers or smart pants, make sure there is no bunching up by your ankles. There should be half-an-inch gap between the end of the trouser and the top of your shoes.
  • Avoid wearing stripes (horizontal and vertical!)
  • Wear shoes that match your outfit
  • Only wear trainers or sneakers if a) you’re working out/exercising or b) your outfit is casual, i.e. white tee and chinos, for example.
  • You can buy platform shoes that give you an extra inch or two. Here are some examples:

The clothes that you wear play a big part towards first impressions. For shorter guys, you really want to stick to these guidelines to look taller:

Here are some good style examples for shorter guys:

As well as wearing the right clothes, having the right shoes can make all the difference.

Below are my recommend shoes for shorter guys to give you the boost and to naturally make you look taller:

Casual Shoes For Shorter Men

Stylish Shoes For Shorter Men

If you have a date or dinner and drinks with friends, then why not go for

Best Platform Shoes For Shorter Men

The Doc Martens 1460 Boots offer a large platform and memory foam for comfort. This makes this an all purpose versatile boot backed by a long-standing boot maker. If you want additional height, you can’t go wrong with these shoes.

4. Money

Ok, money isn’t everything. BUT – if you’re making good money it can be great for your self-esteem and confidence!

You will feel much taller when you know that you can take care of yourself, your partner and your family.

I was in a 9 to 5, but knew I was meant for more. I was always on the lookout for other ways to make money whether it was property investing, trading, crypto, e-commerce…the list went on.

The game changer for me, however, was when I came across the self-development niche. I started to read books and listen to podcasts by Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss, Dr. Joe Dispenza, Robert Kiyosaki, etc. These guys are self-improvement and business gurus who talk about the need for holistic improvement.

This journey of self-discovery led me to learning online business skills and digital marketing. I learnt about affiliate marketing and how to craft an offer on the internet and make money.

As a beginner, the best way to make money online is affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is where you market and sell another company’s product online – and you receive a commission.

You simply leverage an existing company’s products and go out and market that product. The company may even provide the marketing assets for you. On top of that, the company will deal with customer enquiries, refunds, fulfilment, etc, so you don’t have to! So essentially, it’s a ready-made business which you have to market.

I am currently an affiliate marketer for four brands, and it was my first online business model in 2019 while working in my 9-to-5 corporate job.


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Believe me, once you get that first sale – you’ll feel like a million bucks!

It doesn’t matter if it’s a sale for $10 or $100 (my first sale was for $20), you will feel like anything is possible online.

The confidence from knowing you built something online, helped someone with a solution and made money is priceless.

That feeling of accomplishment will make you feel like you’re 6ft tall when walking down the street. You won’t care about your height!

5. Mindset and Attitude to Life

The above things (face, dress, money, etc) are physical or material things. Yes, they help but true confidence comes within.

You should build up a mindset where you say to yourself ‘I am a great guy’, ‘I have full confidence in my ability’, ‘I am in control’. I’m not saying do affirmations multiple times of the day, but that you should walk and approach everything in your life with open-mindedness and confidence.

People will not notice whether a guy with a great attitude and confidence is short or tall. Simply the fact that he has great energy and they like to be around him.

You can get to a more positive mindset by doing daily meditations. Trust me, this works.

I’ve been doing it for 4 years now and you can start with 10mins a day, and use guided meditation videos on YouTube. Meditation basically helps you realign and recentre yourself. You get clarity on what’s important. You get clarity on what your next step should be in business, relationships, etc.

I’ve got to the point that I’m confident in my body, confidence in my skin and can deal with (almost) all social situations. My height doesn’t factor in my thoughts at all these days.


I have listed those factors that have really helped me overcome ‘short man syndrome’. I don’t feel insecure about my height and I don’t feel shy. I don’t avoid social scenarios because of my height.

Listen, I believe any short guy regardless of background, can become a more confident person.

I would urge you to create a plan to:

  • Improve your physical appearance
  • Change your diet
  • Review your wardrobe
  • Look for ways to make money
  • Spend time with your thoughts by meditating

Of course, change isn’t easy. You need to have the will, but also the time and money. This is why I would encourage any short guy to create a passive income source, and this online affiliate training helps you to do that. It was the same training I took when I was new to online business.

The training even suggests the niche markets and products you should target to make your first dollars online.

Go improve yourself and beat the short man syndrome!

To your success!

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