Bragging is something we’re trained as children not to do. When pride is so frowned upon that it's listed as one of the seven deadly sins, it’s easy to see why we struggle to shout about our successes. (Paired perhaps with a subconscious fear of becoming The Office’s David Brent.)
But failing in the art of self-promotion can cost you. In fact, a Sutton Trust analysis of BBC data found that those who were more confident and assertive had a 25 per cent higher chance of being in a higher-earning job.
It can be a particular problem for women, who were shown in a recent study to self-rate their performance 33 per cent lower than men did at the same performance level.
So perhaps it’s time bragging got a rebrand: it’s less about being obnoxious, more about getting used to talking about your strengths.
“You don't have to say you're the world's best. You just need to say: This is what I'm good at. These are my strengths. This is what I can offer to you,” says Ros Taylor, leadership coach and founder of the Ros Taylor Company.
She suggests rehearsing and practising vocalising what you’re good at, to make it less awkward. “Know the words to your song. It should come tripping off your tongue,” Taylor adds.
Of course, it’s not always easy to know what your strengths and weaknesses actually are. Self-awareness is the key to good bragging, and it begins with stepping back from your day-to-day and reflecting on how far you’ve come.
“Take your time to analyse and assess your achievements, what you've learned and what you've discovered,” says Lydia Amoah, business coach and founder of LA Associates.
Before bragging to your boss, take care that your self-assessment isn’t overly critical - or overly generous. Seek external feedback from someone you trust, who is honest and has your best interests at heart.
“You have to be really wise to know who you get your feedback from. Someone who can be real with you, whether it be a mentor, coach or a sponsor. Someone who has shown up time and again, so that you know you can trust that person”, Amoah advises.
Don't ask, don't get
While self-promotion and competence aren't inherently codependent traits, it is unlikely your boss is thinking about promoting you or giving you a pay rise when you are happily and silently working away.
“The people in charge are very happy to have us performing well for them”, Taylor says. “Unless we actually say: ‘I really would like to be considered for promotion’, then often they just don't think about it.”
Taylor says that when bragging to your boss, it’s important not to babble on around the years you’ve served the company or to be arrogant, with an “I deserve it” frame of mind.
Instead, keep your bragging centred around what you can deliver for the business and how your strengths play into that. “It’s all about the business”, Taylor insists. It’s “absolutely what you bring to the party, so that the business can be more successful. And then you’ll be successful.”
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