THE ART OF HUMBLEBRAGGING


 

"No, I didn't get accepted into Harvard, but Oxford is still climbing the ranks so I'm okay where I am"

“No, I didn’t get accepted into Harvard, but plenty of successful people went to Oxford”

First things first – we all have to accept that doing a good job just isn’t good enough. You need to let people know about your achievements. Lots of people hate hearing this – but I’m telling you it because it’s true!  Critics will say work should speak for itself. Well here’s another angle on it. Why shouldn’t you be proud of the accomplishments you’ve contributed to the company – big or small? Why wouldn’t you want to make sure people know about these? They might replicate what you did in another department. It might lead to recognition for your entire team, boosting morale. Or it just might lead to your next job in the company, where you’ll have the opportunity to contribute even more.

 

SO… once and for all, let’s stop feeling bad about communicating our successes or ‘big wins’, in corporate speak.

 

Now how to go about this is another matter. Despite everything I’ve just said about showcasing your work, you can’t be too show-y. You can’t appear to be self-promoting, or the attention turns to you (in a negative way) instead of your work (in a positive way). Enter the humblebrag.

 

Here are some funny (and not too humble) ones, collected courtesy of #humblebrag on Twitter:

  • “Geniuses @amazon just recommended my own book to me. Already read this one, thanks guys!”
  • “Why do men hit on me more when I’m in sweat pants?”
  • “I never anticipated having the sort of job where I would be on the phone with someone and say, “I have to go. Ang Lee is on the other line.”
  • “Being famous and having a fender bender is weird. You want to be upset but the other drivers just thrilled & giddy that it’s you.”

 

Turning back to work, it of course has to play out a bit differently. Let’s imagine you just launched a new project that went really well and you want to do some humblebragging. Here are two different techniques you could consider:

  • Praising the team: Not only is this a humblebrag, it shows you’re a good manager, caring about teamwork and getting recognition for your employees
  • Thanking stakeholders for their support/partnership: Again, not only are you humblebragging about the project’s success, you’re making others feel good about themselves and giving them some recognition. As a result, they’re going to be more likely to forward the email on. In one team I led years ago, we always did a Christmas/end-of-year thank you email to tens if not hundreds of stakeholders. It was to ‘thank them’ for their support, partnership, blablabla, but it also had photos from great events and initiatives we’d run over the course of the year that we wanted to remind everyone of. Good humblebragging if I do say so myself ;)

 

Now be careful. Done too often, or not humble enough, and humblebragging is just plain bragging. What do you think? A necessary evil or unnecessary self-promotion? 

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Comments & Responses

8 Responses so far.

  1. Angela Moore says:

    Those are great ways to share your wins in a non-pushy way. I like it! I think especially us women do not do a good enough job promoting ourselves. I know I like to do a good job and then I’m off to the next thing…while some of the men I work with glom on to every accomplishment they kind-of did. I don’t want to be them…but I should promote me more.

  2. Jenny says:

    What great suggestions — especially about complimenting members of your team!!

    :) Thanks for sharing!

  3. I loved that! I work with alot of women, and they have a hard time with promoting themselves in a non-pushy way, I will definitely be sharing with them some of your examples!!

  4. […] do have a relationship with the department but feel like your personal brand is lacking, do a little humblebragging and gradually build up your […]

  5. […] “The Art of Humblebragging” is a recent post from the site, Boredom to Boardroom, that puts a name to the phenomenon we all know so well. Humblebragging. Humblebragging is a method of self-promotion that highlights one’s accomplishments without appearing too egocentric. If it is done right, humblebragging can do wonderful things in the workplace. According to the writer, the best way to humblebrag is to draw attention to others. So, for example, if you are the manager of a team who just finished an awesome project, the best thing to do is not to congratulate yourself on leading the team to a victory, but to give your team praise instead. And if your project had sponsors that made its existence possible, then praise the sponsors as well. By doing this, you are not only making everyone who was involved feel happy and accomplished, but you are also bringing attention to your work as well. […]

  6. […] have a relationship with the department but feel like your personal brand is lacking, do a little humblebragging and gradually build up your […]

  7. PK says:

    Thank you for sharing this view point. I have serious issues in job interviews because I am stuck with, “why was that great? It was my job.” As a result I have real problems presenting myself having had some really great accomplishments. Which I have. This is a great para dime shift for me. Thanks.

  8. Boredom to Boardroom says:

    Thanks for your comment PK! It might just feel like ‘part of the job’ to you when pursuing these great accomplishments, but others might not have done the work as effectively, as creatively, or as successfully, for example. Make sure you are not selling yourself short by taking your achievements for granted.

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