Don’t Like to Talk About Yourself? Hesitant to Share Your Successes? Get over the Humble Hurdle.
Is it okay if I brag a little bit?
I just won an award. I won the 2019 Nova Writes Joyce Barkhouse Award, which recognizes excellence in the category of writing for children. It’s for one of my yet-to-be published manuscripts called “Keepers of the Pact”. Writing fiction is a creative pursuit I enjoy to balance my strategic/coaching/ corporate work brain time. And I’m just a little proud of this accomplishment.
It’s sometimes difficult for us to admit or acknowledge (or just say the words), “I’m proud that I …” to another person. As one of my client’s said: “I’m just not comfortable talking about myself.” We were preparing her for an interview so getting comfortable sharing her professional successes was key. For many of us, this can feel awkward and even boastful.
Why is that? We work hard to achieve our successes. We deserve recognition when it’s due.
I think that somewhere between our boisterous, boastful childhood and sometimes stressed out career years, we absorbed the parental wisdom that no one wants to hear a braggart. And I do agree that no one enjoys someone who endlessly goes on about how great they are (or their kids for that matter). But I have to say I haven’t met a whole lot of those types. A few, but not many. Instead, I notice that people more often talk in a self-deprecating kind of way that undervalues their contributions. It’s like we’re embarrassed if we stand out a little bit.
To be more successful in our careers and in our organizations, I’d love for you to find a way to be comfortable talking about your individual and organizational accomplishments in a way that feels more genuine to you.So that it feels natural and creates more momentum. Having a prepared couple of lines helps. (see creating your Billboard speech). But given how modest many of you are, it’s going to feel like a stretch to start sharing.
It’s time to ease over the Humble Hurdle! Here are three ideas.
Step One: Ask permission. If we feel people are ‘coming at us’ and bragging about their accomplishments, it tends to turn us off. We want to escape. It’s uncomfortable. But if we agreed to lend an ear, then it’s different. Ask permission. You can say something like, ‘can I tell you a bit about what our company achieved since we last met?’ Or when someone asks you how it’s going you can reply, ‘actually really great. Do you want to hear about something I’ve really enjoyed working on?’ or have some fun with this and just come out and say it: ‘Is it okay if I brag about myself for a few minutes?’ Try it. And then be prepared with a succinct story. But don’t ‘go at’ someone, invite them into the conversation.
Step Two: Encourage others to share their successes. Isn’t it interesting that not only are we uncomfortable sharing our successes, but we also get uncomfortable hearing about someone else’s excessive success? Let’s also blame this on our childhood conditioning. But let’s agree to get over it together. Start to encourage, and then listen to, your colleagues, customers and friends. Ask them what they’re most proud about accomplishing in the last few months. It’s inspiring to hear success stories and we get great ideas when sharing.
Step Three: Create more success stories. This just seems like a natural next step. As you talk more to each other about individual successes there is often a spark about something you yourself could do to move forward. It may even be helping your colleague go further with their accomplishment. And yes, it’s okay to be proud of other people’s success stories and share them too.
One company I have been working closely with over the past number of years is rapidly evolving in the financial technology sector. They’ve invested in developing their people in an effort to create a more positive, productive corporate culture that can keep up with their growing demands. It’s paying off in leaps and bounds. As part of this transition, their employees have created a fabulous recognition program. (And yes, I’m very proud of them for that). Starting to acknowledge more successes within, will help employees be more comfortable telling their customers about what’s going well and the advances they are making.
Below is an Energizer exercise we did to start our last team session to help get employees used to sharing individual accomplishments. Take a few minutes to do the exercise on your own. I know you’ll come up with some ideas worth sharing.
Wishing you every success,
Short Bragging Exercise
The exercise is part of Jack Canfield’s Success Principles™ program, which I am certified in as a trainer. It goes like this…
Get into groups of six. Each take a turn. Make a statement about a specific area or behavior starting with, “I’m proud that I…”
(Here are some ideas. Use them all if you can!)
- Something you are proud of from your work life.
- Something you are proud of from your personal life.
- Something you are proud of that you learned to do the last 5 years.
- Something you are proud of that you have done for another person.