We all run the risk of sounding overly confident when we tout our achievements. Here’s how to avoid that mistake.
Go ahead, toot your own horn — just don’t do it too loudly.
At a press conference in the Oval Office on Thursday, President Donald Trump was asked how he would rate his administration’s hotly-debated response to the devastation caused by two Atlantic hurricanes on Puerto Rico. “I’d say it was a ten,” out of ten, Trump responded assuredly. “This was worse than [Hurricane] Katrina… It was, in many ways, worse than anything people have ever seen.” He then added, “We have provided so much, so fast.”
Hip hop artist Kanye West has also uttered a number of quotes about how highly he views himself and his work, including: “When you’re the absolute best, you get hated on the most.”
Then there was this line: “I am God’s vessel. But my greatest pain in life is that I will never be able to see myself perform live.” And, finally, West gave us this crown jewel of a quote: “Whoa by 50% [I am more influential than] Stanley Kubrick, Apostle Paul, Picasso… f—–g Picasso and Escobar. By 50% more influential than any other human being.”
Many of us have heard statements like this in the workplace — for example, someone who isn’t afraid to say their work is the best in the company. And demonstrating self-confidence like this in the workplace can be a good thing, as it exudes authority and a sense of resolve that you consistently churn out good work.
But going overboard can backfire. Here are a few guidelines for how to show off your chops at the office, without sounding too pretentious to stomach.
Stick to the facts: Executive coach and author Dr. Marc Dorio says it’s simple: When touting your accomplishments, ask: “What is true? if it’s true, I think you say that at the appropriate time. Where it gets to be ridiculous is where [others] are saying something like, ‘Who’s he kidding?'” In other words, if you want to show off what you’ve done, keep your self-promotion grounded in reality.
Back up your accomplishments with data: “Instead of telling people how great you are at doing something, show people what you do, show people how you do it,” says career coach Susan Ginsberg O’Sullivan. Her recommendation: Point out, in precise ways, how your work contributed to your team or organization’s success. For example, you might tell your manager that your leadership on a certain project equated to be 15% bump in revenue from quarter-to-quarter.
Make it about the team: “You need to be careful of the ‘I’ and the ‘we,'” O’Sullivan cautions. “When you’re in the workplace, it’s never just an ‘I’ — it’s always a ‘we.’ You have teams you are working with,” she says, so even if you provided a specific degree of value, you should still couch your efforts within the broader context of what your team collectively delivered.
Do good work: Ultimately, you can blow your own horn as much as you like, but people will judge you on the quality of work, Dorio notes. “You can’t always be marketing yourself; at some point what are you trying to prove? The best performers don’t have to say too much. What they do speaks for itself.”
“Let your work define you,” Dorio concludes.
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