Let’s face it: You’re never going to get anywhere in this world if you don’t know how to toot your own horn every once in a while. Unfortunately, this might be easier said than done for some of us. It’s often the ones who keep their nose to the grindstone and simply do their job without talking about it who fly under the radar and, unfortunately, get passed over when a round of promotions comes about. While being an outright braggart certainly won’t do you any good, neither will being too timid to speak up when you deserve to be noticed. There are definitely ways to promote yourself without coming across like a blowhard, such as:
See Also: 5 Ways to go From Boring to Awesome
1. Sharing Inspirational Stories
No one can resist a story that builds up the main character from an underdog to a competitor—even if that character is you! Instead of simply bragging about all the amazing things you’ve done in your life, focus on the biggest challenges you’ve overcome. Set the stage for your audience so they understand the hardships and adversity you faced, and focus on how you persevered through these difficulties. The difference between bragging about an accomplishment and being proud of it is often in the amount of work you had to do to achieve it.
2. Showing Gratitude
When you discuss your triumphs, make sure it’s not a one-man show. While you do deserve a lot of credit for accomplishing what you have in your life, you definitely didn’t go about it alone. You almost certainly had help from at least one other person along the way. Giving credit where credit is due will show that, although you are proud of everything you’ve done in your life, you’re humble enough to admit that none of it would have been possible without the guidance you received from the people who care about you most.
3. Being Self-Deprecating
You could use positive humor when bragging about yourself, or you could go the Larry David route and be self-deprecating the whole way. If you are working 12-13 hour shifts at a job that you don’t necessarily love, and people often ask you “why” or “how”, you should always answer back with a wry smile, that you’re a glutton for punishment. Of course, the statement can only be half-true, and is really meant to get a laugh out of whoever asks—with the insinuation being that it was kind of a silly question to begin with. But in such a simple, self-loathing statement, you are going to be able to communicate the ideas that, yes, it’s a tough job, and yes, you’d rather be elsewhere, and also ask the question: “Do you really think I work more than half of every single day of my life because I want to?” all in one. This can be done without insulting anyone or bragging about yourself.
4. Letting Others Talk You Up
If you’re really shy, and absolutely hate being in the limelight, let your buddies do it for you. Of course, make sure you return the favor on a consistent basis. In fact, you should make it a habit of talking up everyone around you on your team—they’ll hopefully pick up on your gratitude and start sharing the praise with you. Not only that, but if you talk others up and praise their accomplishments over yours, you show that you’re a great team player—which is an accomplishment on its own. By focusing on actually getting things done and letting others talk you up, you show that you’re not “in it” for the praise, but to do great things.
5. Being Humorous
During his preparation to climb Mount Everest, George Mallory was asked why he wanted to attempt something so incredible. His supposed response was: “Because it’s there.” There was no bravado about “wanting to be the most famous mountain climber to ever live” or anything of the sort. He saw what he was about to attempt as something that anyone could do if they put their mind to it. And he got that message across with those three simple words, as if to say: “Why wouldn’t I? Wouldn’t you?” Without seeming like a braggart or insulting anyone else, his simple statement set him apart from most other people, who absolutely would not attempt something like that at all.
6. Being Brief
If you’re comfortable talking yourself up, by all means go for it. But don’t go on for too long to the point that people get tired of hearing about it. If every story you tell ends with how you swooped in and saved the day, people will eventually stop listening to you, and will start wondering if you actually do half of the things you say you do. The less time you waste talking, the more time you have to spend chasing your goals. On the other hand, the more you talk, the less you end up getting done in the long run.
7. Not Avoiding a Chance to Brag
This might seem pretty obvious, but you should never miss a chance to blow your own horn at least a little bit, when given a compliment. If someone praises you for a job well done, point out the work you are most proud of accomplishing within the project being discussed. You might be tempted to say something like “It was no problem,” but all this does is diminish the hard work you put into the project. Doing so might also unintentionally communicate the notion that you really didn’t put much effort into it, and that you just happened to get lucky, or the project wasn’t really that difficult to begin with. If you don’t naturally brag about your accomplishments, at the very least think of one single portion of a project that you can discuss in detail, so your boss understands just how much effort you put into your job.
8. Being Practical
What do you do when someone starts discussing their degrees and the titles they’ve held in the past? I know I usually roll my eyes and wonder what they’ve done for the world lately. The truth is, for the most part it really doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past, especially if you’re not doing anything productive in the present. If you want to brag about your past, rather than talking about titles and graduate programs, discuss skills you picked up throughout your various life experiences. There’s a difference between telling someone you graduated from Yale, and telling them that while you were studying at Yale you were the head of an organization that helped homeless people find jobs.
“Brag” is such a harsh word. Too often, people confuse pride with being a braggart, and refuse to acknowledge the hard work they do on a daily basis for fear of appearing selfish and egotistical. While there definitely is a fine line between showing pride and bragging, the mindset of both is completely different. When you brag, you’re putting on what I call the “Me Show.” You aren’t thinking about the good you’ve done for your company or community; you’re just thinking of all the praise you should be getting. On the other hand, when you show pride in your work, you acknowledge that it needed to be done for the betterment of the people around you, and you were more than happy to be the person to undertake such a privileged task.