Remaining quiet about yourself or, worse, downplaying your successes leads to being underappreciated, or even allowing others to take credit for your achievements. Being quiet also does not build your brand nor highlight what you are capable of. At the risk of sounding contradictory, “bragging” done with grace and style, promotes your best asset – you!
Stating your value and accomplishments is risky because you might come across as pompous or make other people feel uncomfortable. It may seem safer and more appealing to be humble and understated. But will you get ahead? I’m suggesting you find a healthy balance between humility and proper self-promotion and self-advocacy.
Humility is a virtue with biblical and spiritual roots that is taught the world over. Unfortunately humility is too often associated with weakness. I don’t see it that way at all. Very few of us ever learn how to reconcile the virtue of humility with the need to promote ourselves in the workplace and in the communities we are part of. Education and job search training equips us to sell ourselves in an interview by paying care and attention to our wardrobe, hair, hygiene, manners, and our résumé. Get those things right, it’s a slam dunk! Well maybe not. There is very little instruction provided on promoting and selling ourselves with ease and sincerity. Somehow we think if we personalize our message or get too excited, we are not being professional, when in fact this is what makes us effective self-promoters. We must show passion for what we believe in and what we are good at!
It’s great if someone says something nice about you and sings your praises. Getting others to brag about you, and promote what you have done is powerful and effective but it is only one tool. Moreover it’s no substitute for you talking about you! No one is going to have your interests at heart the way you do. No one will ever tell your story and get people excited about you like you can. No one has the intrinsic and specific knowledge about what happened and how it was achieved aside from you.
Learning to brag is not about becoming something you aren’t or trying to put something over on someone. In fact, bragging as an art is just the opposite. It’s about becoming more of who you are and bringing forward your best talents with authenticity, pride of accomplishment but not hubris, and enthusiasm and passion about the outcomes you have achieved and the benefit that had on others. It’s about telling your story in a way that showcases your strengths and abilities. It’s a way of building a bridge to others and to better opportunities and more powerful outcomes. Viewed from this perspective it is not bragging but really a way of honoring your innate talents, gifts, passion and spirit. It is also not hypocritical self-deprecation that sounds like “I got to the top of my organization because I happened to be lucky” when you worked like a maniac and sacrificed weekends and evenings to get ahead, or “I was fortunate to work with a talented team of people that were really effective” when in reality if you had not been on the team and kept everyone focused and on schedule, the project would have ended up in the ditch. Put another way – if you don’t blow your own horn there will be no music. Make sure the music is appealing and inviting not harsh and painful.
To see bragging and self promotion from the right perspective starts with a clean slate, it is important to drop the negative baggage you may have been carrying for years. That does not mean being narcissistic, vain and self absorbed. It does mean knowing how to promote and present yourself in ways that ensure you are recognized and rewarded for your accomplishments and abilities.