Why do we have such a tough time bragging? If you’re like me, talking professionally about yourself isn’t easy. I was taught at a young age not to brag or boast, and somewhere along the way, I picked up the tendency to downplay my skills. What if I couldn’t live up to what I’d said?
No one wants to hang around with someone who’s constantly making the conversation about them, but we should know how to speak intelligently about ourselves so we’re considered for a job or promotion. Thus, it’s important for everyone to learn the skill of bragging in a way that makes us feel good, instead of leaving us with a bad taste in our mouth.
Yes, bragging is a skill – a skill both men and women need to learn how to do effectively. Unfortunately, women need to learn this more than men. Why? Studies have found that women are less likely to speak up for themselves, ask for a raise, or take credit for a job they performed.
Why do we do this? From what I’ve read, women have more of a “we” than an “I” mentality, and so we share credit or deflect what should rightfully be something we take a stand for. We’re also afraid of being judged.
So, how do we learn this important skill?
Be prepared. Keep an “Atta Girl” file. When someone pays you a compliment or thanks you, add it to the file. Include reviews, awards, and project success stories. Keep a list. Let the work speak for itself – then you won’t have to.
Know your audience. What’s the focus of your meeting? What are the end results you want to walk away with? What are relevant points to share about yourself to achieve those end results? Be prepared with what you want to share. Write out a list beforehand and practice saying it out loud. Remove any words that downplay or limit you such as “sort of,” “maybe,” “a little,” and “sometimes.” Be solid with your word choices; they matter.
Be proud. We have to be proud of our accomplishments. Don’t discount them. Otherwise, how can anyone else also share or support them?
Be passionate. Be passionate about what you share. Let your passion for what you do shine through. I’ve been told when I speak about specific topics, my face lights up and the energy/excitement level changes in my tone and inflection.
Be careful. There’s a time and place to share. Pay attention to the conversation and join in when asked or when it’s appropriate. Remember, there’s a difference between self-promotion and promotion. According to Google Dictionary, self-promotion is defined as “The action of promoting or publicizing oneself or one’s activities, especially in a forceful way.” Also, don’t brag with a modifier: “I hate to brag, but…” or “Shameless plug inserted here” and then state the plug. It downplays the message you want to send and hurts yourself more in the long run. Remember, promotion itself is not a negative word.
Be mindful. When is the right time or place? On your resume, in a cover letter or job interview, or at your annual review with your boss. Your bio in your social media and LinkedIn profile, especially if it’s connected to your business. In a conversation where you’re asked about your work. Social setting? Not so much.
Be kind. I wanted to see what was out in the internet world related to women and bragging, and one comment on a blog caught my attention. The commenter stated she believed the problem was not with the bragging, it was the reaction to the bragging that made people gun-shy about doing it. Judgments and negative comments all reinforce the fear associated with bragging.
We don’t need to tear each other down; we need to help build each other up. So, the next time you have a friend share something, don’t call them out on it – give them a high-five instead. It probably took way more courage to post the information than you realize. I worry about how my words come across every time I hit “publish.”
Keep in mind. Humility matters! At your next networking event, be sure to ask others what they’re working on, and pay attention. You never know when you’ll have the opportunity to share back.
Denise M. Colby loves to encourage, enrich, and engage her readers through her articles, blogs, and marketing content. Find out more at