Here’s How to Brag Without Sounding Like a Jerk
You have so much to be proud of. You’ve gotten the promotions you’ve wanted, and even when you haven’t, you’ve done good work and made a difference in your workplace. You’ve cultivated healthy relationships. You’ve filled your home with DIY projects that make your friends want to move in and stay forever. You work hard at being a good daughter, a good sister, and a good pal. You’re working on learning new skills and you’ve started dreaming about some pretty cool side hustles. So why is it so hard for you to talk about it all? Many of us have been so conditioned to avoid sounding “braggy” that we barely share our wins and strengths at all. Instead, we smile and hide them, maybe even feeling a little resentful that no one ever appreciates all the amazing things we do. But we can blame them if they don’t even know about them? Not really. We’ve collected six tips that will help you learn to communicate victories of all kinds in a way that feels comfortable and not-so-obnoxious. Read on for all the details.
1. Talk about how you’ve impacted other people. If you’re making it about someone other than yourself, you’re less likely to feel like you’re really bragging. Flower Moxie owner Amy McCord Jones suggests that you build a healthier relationship with talking about your accomplishments — especially at work — by turning it around on others. Instead of simply talking about how funny you are, share stories about how your sense of humor has helped facilitate more comfortable conversations at work and given you the tools to lead smarter meetings.
2. Be open about the peaks and valleys. On the route to your successes, there are bound to have been some missteps. Don’t be ashamed — talk about them! “Be sure to acknowledge any help you’ve had along the way or struggles you’ve had to overcome,” Rise founder and CEO Vivian Chen says. “Sharing the journey of how you reached your ultimate success allows people to root for you rather than dismiss your accomplishments. It’s easy to sound like a jerk if you take all the credit and fish for compliments. You earned the right to brag, so tell us why and get us on your side.”
3. Acknowledge that success is not a given. “Share your accomplishments in a way that displays that you’re as surprised as the listener for how far you came,” mental health expert Adina Mahalli of Maple Holistics tells us. “It shows that you’re grateful for the opportunities.” You don’t need to take it to a level of self-deprecation, but you can be candid about the specific aspects of your story that make you feel especially humble.
4. Take an inventory of your strengths and achievements. Life coach and owner of The Coach Space Gabrielle Collard suggests a little brainstorming exercise. Make a list of all of your personal and professional wins through every stage of your life. Dig deep and make note of things like lessons learned, skills learned, and difficult situations overcome. Reflect on how each item on your list has added value to others and your community. Highlight the ones that make you feel especially proud and take baby steps to claiming your bragging rights by bringing them up next time you’re feeling comfortable enough to do it.
5. Be supportive of others. The people around you will be less likely to raise an eyebrow at your so-called bragging if you’re consistently receptive about their success stories. Gigworker community manager Hamna Amjad reminds us of the importance of appreciating the achievements of your friends and colleagues. “Whenever someone does something great, congratulate them and celebrate with them openheartedly,” Amjad says. “This will, in turn, encourage everyone to celebrate with you in the same way when you accomplish something.” It’s like the golden rule of bragging!
6. Think about timing. Be aware of how the context of a conversation can impact the way that others perceive it. “Don’t talk about your accomplishments while a friend is communicating her hardships,” Joyce Santos, founder of But First, Joy, says. “It’s equally as important to not share your successes while another friend is sharing hers. Let those around you enjoy their winning season and then share when the time is right for yours!”
(Photo via Getty)