How to talk about achievements without bragging.
“I’m actually the best manager the office has ever had. Before I got here, no one knew what they were doing.” Boastful comments like this make listeners cringe and roll their eyes. The reality is that braggarts aren't usually revered; most people prefer modesty and humility to gloating.
Sometimes, in an effort to avoid sounding like a blowhard, you might become overly modest, but keeping your success to yourself and minimizing your achievements can be a problem too. Perhaps you just got a promotion, and you don’t tell your friends the good news because you’re afraid they’ll think you’re bragging. Consequently, they miss out on celebrating with you. Or maybe you’re talking to your boss during your annual performance review, and you downplay your achievements to avoid sounding like a narcissist. Ultimately, you may get passed over for a promotion.
Amy Morin is a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, college psychology instructor and internationally recognized expert on mental strength. She's the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do (link is external), a USA Today bestselling book that is being translated into more than 20 languages. Since 2002, she has been counseling children, teens, and adults. Amy serves as Verywell's Parenting Teens Expert and Child Discipline Expert. She's a regular contributor to Forbes and Inc.Amy has been sought out by the media for her expertise in mental strength. Some of the media outlets who have featured her advice include: Oprah.com, Parenting, Time, Fast Company, Success, Good Housekeeping, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Health.com, Fox News, Fox Business, and TheBlaze TV.
Editor: Muhammad Talha
It’s okay to share your success, as long as you do it in an authentic and humble way. Here are seven ways to talk about accomplishments without sounding like a braggart:
1. Keep the emphasis on your hard work.
Saying “Oh, that was easy,” or “I barely broke a sweat” sounds arrogant. When you’ve accomplished something big, emphasize your hard work. Say, “I worked really hard to make this happen.” Listeners will respect your triumphs when they know you put in a lot of effort.
2. Don't belittle other people.
Avoid disparaging remarks about other people. Putdowns like “The other people in the office could never have done this,” won’t elevate your status—you’ll just sound mean. So leave out comparisons if you can. If you crossed the road race finish line in first place, it’s OK to say you were first. But don’t add that the second place finisher was a minute behind you.
3. Give credit where it's due.
Acknowledge the team, friends, or family who helped you along the way. Similar to the acknowledgements page of a book, or an Oscar winner’s acceptance speech, point out that you aren’t solely responsible for your success. Say, “I couldn’t have done this without such a supportive spouse,” or “My team really stepped it up to make this happen.” People are especially receptive to hearing success stories when credit is given where it’s due.
4. Stick to the facts.
Sweeping generalizations and positive labels equate to tooting your own horn. Stick to self-disclosure rather than self-praise and you’ll sound more authentic. Rather than saying “I’m an excellent leader,” say, “Since I took over the team, sales have doubled.” Then, let other people interpret the facts. If they conclude you’re an excellent leader or a rock-star salesperson on their own, you’ll still come across as modest.
5. Express gratitude.
Make it clear that you don’t think you deserve good fortune simply because you are a great person. Show gratitude by saying “I am so grateful that the company gave me this opportunity,” or “I’m thankful that I have such a supportive family.” Expressing gratitude will show you are down to earth.
6. Don’t add a qualifier.
Saying “I hate to brag, but…” doesn’t excuse showing off. In fact, it only draws attention to the fact you know what you’re about to say may be a turn-off, but you’re saying it anyway. Instead of a semi-apologetic warning, try saying, “I’m so excited to share my good news,” or “I’m happy to announce…” before you tout your accomplishment.
7. Avoid the humble-brag.
It can be tempting to add a disparaging remark to offset your compliments about yourself. But saying “I am so embarrassed I let my Lamborghini get this dirty” won’t earn you any points. In fact, studies show that humble-bragging makes people sound insincere. So if you want to make a good impression, avoid disguising self-promotion as a complaint. You’re better off directly communicating your accomplishments.
Own Your Success Without Sounding Like a Narcissist
Before you tell other people about your success, consider why you’re touting your accomplishments. If you’re hoping to gain admiration from others, or you’re trying to make someone else look inferior, it’s best not to share.
Still, it’s important to get comfortable with your success. When you feel worthy of it, you’ll feel less awkward talking about it. And when you own your success, you won’t feel compelled to share your achievement to prove to others that you’re worthy. Instead, you’ll be able to talk about your performance in a productive manner.