Most of us want to improve our skills, learn new things, and meet interesting people. Once you reach the plateau of success, it’s natural to want to brag about it. But we tend to see braggers as insecure bullies, even when they aren’t. For this reason, the “humblebrag” was invented.
We humblebrag because we’re aware that humility is a good characteristic to have. Since self-promotion is essential for marketing, the humblebrag acts as a stand-in for negative social behavior. Unfortunately, we also see humblebraggers as insincere, humbled, and arrogant.
With that in mind, it can feel like there isn’t any socially accepted way to speak about ourselves without coming off as a jerk. But that isn’t the case, and this blog article will examine why.
Why Should We Talk About Our Accomplishments?
Many have resorted to silence because they feel they can’t come across as sincere no matter what they do. But not talking about yourself can have serious career and social consequences.
If you wanted to apply to an online career marketplace like Lensa.com, you’d have to describe why you’re the best candidate for the job. If you don’t make a good first impression, you’re forgettable. If you don’t brag, what you say becomes white static, and it really isn’t your fault.
The average American reads or hears 100,000 words every single day, but we forget 80% of what we learn in 24 hours. If you don’t have an interesting life story to tell or you speak too humbly about your accomplishments, you could be seen as unconfident, superficial, or shy.
In a professional or personal relationship, you have to reveal the true “you“. Being genuine opens more doors than it closes and helps you find more worthwhile connections, partners, and clients.
10 Ways to Humbly Share Your Accomplishments
Finding a middle ground when it comes to talking about yourself isn’t easy, and some people will still be upset no matter what you do. But that shouldn’t prevent you from sharing your story.
1. Focus on the Struggle
Let’s say you have strong blog content writing skills, and you managed to obtain these skills without a formal education background. Getting your name out there was probably difficult, but if you make it sound like your journey was easy, you’ll come off as inauthentic and out-of-touch.
If you touch on the mistakes you made, the struggle to get recognized, and the hard work it took to reach your level, you’ll be seen as relatable. You may even inspire others to try new things.
2. Be and Sound Grateful
There’s room at the top, but not everyone reaches it. That naturally makes others covet what you have. Not a single person in history can say they’re “self-made,” as they’ve all had teachers, bosses, clients, or family members that drove them towards success, for better or for worse.
If you could start a business because you came from wealth, acknowledge it. If you’ve finally got the recognition you deserve, be sincere about it and thank the people that helped along the way.
3. Be Self-Deprecating
While self-deprecating humor shouldn’t be used to devalue all of your accomplishments, it can be a great way to show you’re humble. For example, if you landed a high-profile job early in your career, you could say, “I was the person who did what everyone else didn’t want to do.”
This frames your job as unglamorous, even though it was a great opportunity. Keep in mind that this humor works better with personal interactions, as employers may see it as an insult.
4. Make a Joke
Self-deprecating humor won’t be appropriate in all scenarios, but everyone loves to hear a good-natured joke. You could be a renowned portrait artist who sells their paintings to millionaires and still sound humble if you say something funny. Plus, funny people are more memorable.
If an interviewer asks you a question like, “how did you get so good at drawing“, say something like, “I actually took a picture and passed it off as my own art, but I trust you won’t tell anyone.”
5. Avoid the Humblebrag
A humblebrag is a brag disguised as a self-deprecating joke or complaint. We’ve discussed why you shouldn’t humblebrag in the introduction, but to reiterate, “bragging humbly” often makes you come off as smug and can make you seem like a genuinely unlikeable person, so don’t do it.
It’s often said that people are more annoyed with hypocrisy than authenticity, even if the truth is uncomfortable or hurtful. If you’re going to brag, just do it. You’ll be seen as more likable.
6. Say it When Asked
There’s nothing more awkward than playing 20 questions with someone, but this may happen when you’re speaking to an accomplished person. They may try to undervalue what they did or avoid saying what they did outright. If you have a habit of doing this, try being less guarded.
For example, if someone asked where you went to school, say “Cornell” instead of “New York“. They’re asking because they care and won’t be angry that you went to an Ivy League College.
7. Don’t Talk in Length
Most people dislike braggers because they don’t know how to quit when they’re ahead. Andy Bernard from The Office is a great example of someone who talks in length about going to Cornell. If he had said it once or only when asked, he wouldn’t be seen as an annoying bragger.
If you need to discuss your accomplishments in an interview, deliver a brag bite. A brag bite is like an elevator pitch, but it’s only 1 or 2 sentences long. Plan your brag bites in advance.
8. Be More Personal
Your personal achievements are often just as interesting as your career-based skills. Employers also love to ask about your hobbies and activities, so there’s no harm in being honest. In fact, you’ll be more memorable to your employers if you both find something you have in common.
For example, if you both lived in California, you could say, “I really miss King Taco since I left Los Angeles“, or something distinctly Californian. It’ll keep the conversation exciting and relevant.
9. Ask Someone Else
Word-of-mouth marketing is super effective, especially when you’re talking about yourself. If you plan to attend a networking event, bring a friend who’s willing to talk you up. In exchange, you can do the same for them. This makes it easier for both of you to discuss your skills humbly.
While this method seems strange, others will feel more comfortable hearing about your skills and achievements from a third party, even if you’re standing there with a big grin on your face.
10. Share a Few Achievements
It’s important to choose your accomplishments wisely, even if you’re the most interesting person in the world. It’s cool that you went to Harvard, made the Dean’s list, and worked in a well-known company with a celebrity, but people will start zoning out if you keep going on, and on, and on.
You also have to make sure that your accomplishments are relevant. If you’re applying for a tech position, but you mention that you’re a champion swimmer, the interviewer won’t really care.