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5 Reasons You Should Brag

... and 4 strategies for doing it the right way.

Konstantin Sutyagin/Shutterstock
Source: Konstantin Sutyagin/Shutterstock

When bragging doesn’t come naturally to you, it can feel like you’re asking to be congratulated. These days, so much of everyone’s Facebook feed is filled with "humblebrags"—“Our Nantucket house has the most terrible reception!” If you’re more modest, you may cringe at the idea of joining in the me-me-me-me chorus. But if you sing your own praises with the right attitude, you’ll build up your self-esteem, share what you’ve learned with the world—and achieve even more success to crow about, both at work and in life.

So go ahead and take a little credit, why don’t you? Whether you hired that whip-smart intern everyone loves or organized an unprecedentedly successful school auction, it’s important to own your successes just as much as you own your mistakes.

There are plenty of great reasons to brag (as long as it's not in an obnoxious manner). Here are 5:

  1. You open new doors. What happens when those in the position to consider you for a new job, a spot in an advanced yoga class, or a chance to lead the spring gala at your kids’ school have no idea what you’re capable of? You lose out on an opportunity, that’s what.
  2. You can make more money. Being boastful gets you ahead at work; it's a fact. Also, women are less likely to speak up at work than men—and in turn, more often miss out on leading projects and getting promotions and raises, according to a 2012 report from management consulting firm Accenture. Owning your accomplishments isn’t about arrogance; it’s about getting the recognition and rewards that you’ve earned. Research has also found that women are more likely than men to share the credit at work—talking about the great team they had, the collaborative effort involved, or the talents of someone, anyone, else. According to a recent University of Massachusetts study, in most of cases, women give unnecessary credit not to other women, but to men.
  3. It feels great. Giving yourself props is a proven mood-booster—it triggers the same sensation of pleasure in the brain as eating good food or being paid, according to a recent Harvard study.
  4. You model confidence to others. Openly taking pride in your achievements makes it easier for those around you—including your children, your friends, and your coworkers—to do the same.
  5. You set the bar higher for next time. Singing your own praises also encourages you to aim higher in future endeavors: If you thought this achievement was cool, wait till you see what you can do next! It’s as much about boosting your own confidence as boosting others’ confidence in you. When you shy away from sharing what you’ve done you keep your—and others’—expectations for you low.

Admittedly, tooting your own horn is often easier said than done, especially when it's not in your nature. What's the right way to brag? In simplest terms, it's talking about yourself with pride, just as you would about a sibling, partner, or friend.

Here are 4 more approaches to keep in mind:

  1. Keep it short and sweet—but not too short. “No matter how you spread the news, keep it pithy, make it entertaining, and make sure it matters to the person you’re telling,” suggests Peggy Klaus, leadership coach and author of BRAG!
  2. Give other people props. Effective bragging doesn’t mean everything should be “I, I, I,” Klaus says. When it applies, include others in the credit—just don’t give them all the credit. For example, if you coached your daughter’s Little League team to the state championships, you might say, “It was a great success, and I never could have done it without my assistant coach, Jane.”
  3. Brag to your boss. At work, every time you reach a goal, fulfill a quota, or achieve a personal best, write it down. Then bring the list to your next review and be prepared to tell your supervisor why each success made a difference to a project or to the company. Being able to quantify your worth makes the conversation more about fact—you deserve recognition, and here’s why—than opinion.
  4. Have someone else brag for you. Consider teaming up with a friend or partner who can talk up your skills and call out your achievements for you. You can then do the same in return. It’s a pretty clever suggestion—if I do say so myself. (And, of course, I do.)
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