« «
Dec 13 2017

How to Tell the Difference Between Self-Promotion and Bragging


Have you ever been nervous about publicizing your own work? The line between graceful self-promotion and eyebrow-raising arrogance can seem far too thin and treacherous to attempt.

The problem with this particular brand of anxiety? First, you become completely passive. You have no control over whether or not you’re recognized for what you’ve accomplished. Second, you often fly under the radar. When luck doesn’t go your way and your achievement isn’t noticed, you get no credit. Not only is that bad for your reputation and visibility, but your colleagues miss out on the chance to learn from what you did.

Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you start a weekly newsletter documenting your wins or begin every meeting with a litany of your recent hits. All you need to do to tell the difference between self-promotion and arrogance is pose these two questions.

1. Ask yourself, “Is this hyperbolic?”
Descriptors like “the best X,” “the most Y,” and “the ideal Z” usually mean you’re bragging. After all, how can another person verify you’re the “most talented engineer” or “the most qualified candidate for the job”? These claims are subjective and typically backfire. Rather than nodding their head and thinking, “Yeah, so-and-so is definitely the strongest candidate,” they think, “Wow, so-and-so has a huge ego. I doubt they’re really that amazing.”

On the flip side, a fact-based statement like, “My average customer satisfaction score is 91, which is 15 points higher than average” can be independently proven. It also doesn’t sound like showing off, because, well, you’re presenting the truth in a neutral, matter-of-fact way.

When you’re worried you’re bragging, try switching from hyperbole to objective data or information.

2. Ask yourself, “Is this helpful?”
Unsurprisingly, talking about something you’ve done that’s interesting and relevant to you but no one else is pretty irritating.

For example, maybe your manager recently told you that your code is consistently the highest-quality on the team. Your fellow engineers probably don’t want to hear that. However, if you figured out a certain repeatable strategy that your coworkers should also use to improve their code, you should absolutely share. The crucial differentiator? The first makes you look good but doesn’t help anyone else, while the second both makes you look good and improves your team members’ work. As long as you’re contributing to the overall knowledge of your organization, promoting yourself won’t come across as bragging.

Putting yourself out there is always nerve-wracking, no matter how often you do it. Nonetheless, it’s a necessary part of being a professional. The spotlight isn’t a bad thing. Using these two “self checks” will ensure you seek it the right way.

About Signature Consultants, LLC

Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Signature Consultants was established in 1997 with a singular focus: to provide clients and consultants with superior staffing solutions. For the ninth consecutive year, Signature was voted as one of the “Best Staffing Firms to Work For” and is named the 15th Largest IT Staffing Firm in the United States (source: Staffing Industry Analysts). With 29 locations throughout North America, Signature annually deploys thousands of consultants to support, run, and manage their clients’ technology needs. Signature offers IT staffing, consulting, managed solutions, and direct placement services. For more information on the company, please visit https://www.sigconsult.com. Signature Consultants is the parent company to Hunter Hollis and Madison Gunn.

Signature Consultants General