Bragging About Yourself Can be Painful

Some people have a natural ability to promote themselves, but for me this is typically an uncomfortable experience.  This  can make it tough when trying to land a new job, ask for a promotion or raise, etc.  Don’t get me wrong, I have no hang-ups bragging about others and I don’t think I lack confidence in myself.  Yet, when I am in front of a hiring manager and need to really talk myself up to land the job or trying to convince my boss that I really do deserve that promotion or raise, I hit a wall.

I feel this ability is essential to your personal brand.  It’s basically the promotion side of your personal “4 P’s” when marketing yourself.  So, why is it so hard to do?  I think it may be due to my upbringing.  My family has always prided themselves on letting their work speak for itself and I have to say my family is some of the hardest working talented people I know (see I can brag about others).  I was always taught to work hard and have a good attitude and your work will be noticed and that being a “braggart” is being rude.

I think that this view was overdeveloped to me and I started to equate all self-promotion as bragging and a negative thing.  So, in a professional career each performance review became an uncomfortable experience where I just accepted what was handed to me even if I thought I was being low-balled or my hard work wasn’t being recognized.  Likewise, during interviews, I rely too much on my resume speaking for itself hoping that the interviewer will see my accomplishments and be impressed.  I know now that that this is not only unfair to the interviewer, but also seriously underselling me.  Not only is it impossible for the interviewer to get to know the real me and my abilities from a piece of paper, but it comes across as a lack of confidence in myself.

So now I am working on my ability to talk up my accomplishments and abilities without sounding too arrogant.  This can be a tricky balance and one that if you are not used to, can make it tough to know how to balance it.  What I am going to try to do now is ask for feedback from my network of friends and ex-coworkers.   These are people I know who will provide constructive criticism and not just say things to be nice. I have been refining my personal pitch and plan to run it by them, both in print and verbally and ask for their honest assessment on how it comes across.

For me this is a start towards market testing the promotion side of my personal brand and gets me past my hang-up around talking myself up.  Is this something you also struggle with?  If so, how have you learned to overcome it?  If not, how do you promote yourself?

On a lighter, related note if you want something funny to follow on twitter, check out @Humblebrag, its good for a chuckle.

About the author: Heath

4 comments to “Bragging About Yourself Can be Painful”

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  1. Mary Beth Swibes - September 1, 2011 at 5:42 PM Reply

    Growing up Corporate, I was also raised on “good work will get noticed.” Happily, what I am learning as I build my Mary Kay business is that not sharing talents or opportunities is not fair to anyone. If you are worried about sounding arrogant, you won’t be. The fact you are worried about that will almost prohibit you from sounding arrogant. The risk is being to weak and not sharing your full potential. I was worried about sounding “pushy” as I started my business and the coaching I received was interesting… wasn’t it rather bold of me to think I know what the other person was feeling? Being honest and enthusiastic are forward moving traits. Have fun with the opportunities that unfold before us!

  2. Heath - September 2, 2011 at 11:57 AM Reply

    Thanks Mary Beth. That is some sound advice and definitely something I will be keeping in mind! I have always appreciated your upbeat approach.

  3. Andy Lai - September 7, 2011 at 12:21 PM Reply

    Heath – If you want to see an example of some real bragging, I can send you a link to someone’s profile on LinkedIn and give you an example of what NOT to write. I think your values are spot on and I understand your sentiments. I think you have to consider your approach carefully because it is just as important to understand what that you want to also attract the right people. If someone is going to eat up all your “bragging” and love it, what does that say about them? Is this someone you want to work for? Modesty + confidence yields the type of person I want to be around. I very much dislike those who exagerate or perpetually color their stories. This is fine at a bar telling personal funny stories, but not when you are trying to get to know someone. All you need is perhaps a stronger conviction in how you say things… but I don’t see that you have any issues in this department from our personal interactions. Keep up the good work Heath! Stay real and be yourself. The intelligent people will see through everything.

  4. 美国到中国快递 - January 14, 2015 at 11:57 PM Reply

    Thanks for finally talking about >Bragging About Yourself Can be Painful <Liked it!

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