“I don’t want to brag.”
It’s a common lament. We all want to be appreciated for our hard work, but many of us are reluctant to tout our accomplishments. Especially women. (I’ve been guilty of this myself).
It’s a quagmire because your ability to show off your best work and be recognized for it is crucial for hiring, promotions, and your overall reputation.
So here are four tips to get over the weirdness and discomfort of self-promotion:
1. Lead with impact (and follow with your actions)
The braggarts who annoy you are likely those who talk about endlessly about themselves. Don’t let their obnoxious self-promotion make you think that’s the only way to get recognition.
Instead, highlight your accomplishments in the context of the difference they make to someone else or the organization. This amplifies your impact without making it all about you. It’s also less awkward for you to say, “Here’s the result” instead of “Look at me, look at me.”
For example, if you came up with a great marketing idea, lead with “This enables us to get more leads, connect deeply with existing customers, and grow our brand. I’m proud of this concept because it will continue to generate even more results in the future.” Identifying your impact, versus, “I worked really hard on this” positions you as more strategic. It helps others see not only how great you are personally, it also helps them see how much value you bring to the table.
2. Lift up others
The golden rule in a leadership capacity: Give the feedback you’d like to receive. Making a habit of recognizing others for their hard work, especially for things that could easily go unnoticed, helps build a culture of celebration, recognition, and camaraderie. If you’re feeling like you don’t get enough positive feedback, start giving more positive feedback. It will come back to you.
3. Tie your actions to larger initiatives
When you tie your actions to a larger initiative, your achievement isn’t just about you personally, it’s about your contribution to something really important. This enables everyone to see you as a valuable leader in the organization, no matter your role.
For example, if your organization is on a quest to fend off a particular competitor, and you successfully did that with a prospect, say something like, “I know we are all focused on navigating the competitive threat of X. In one of my conversations this week, I addressed it (this way) and found it to be really effective; the deal closed.” That way, your amazingness is of service to everyone, because you’re helping tackle an important shared goal.
4. Make peace with actual bragging
Find a colleague you’re close with, a friend, or even your dog, and unapologetically brag about how awesome you are. No qualifiers or minimizers like, it was no big deal, or, it wasn’t that hard or, I had a lot of help. Instead, square your shoulders, look the person (or puppy) square in the eyes and say, “I rocked it.”
If you made progress on an important initiative, sold a big deal, or made it through a tense meeting without yelling or crying, take credit for it. You deserve to be appreciated. This gives your brain and your body a boost and helps you feel great. In a safe space, you can get comfortable with the idea of appreciating yourself, even if no one else took the time to shout out your achievements.
You work hard, and you deserved to be recognized for it. In the hustle and bustle of daily business, it’s not uncommon to feel like your achievements are falling on deaf ears. This is a recipe for burnout.
Avoid this by bringing your accomplishments to the forefront. Bringing up your accomplishments doesn’t have to be awkward. It’s an opportunity for you to highlight your great work in the context of others and establish yourself as a leader.