Modest bragging – how to do it

Childhood messages include don’t boast, don’t show off, don’t get too big for your boots. We grow up not knowing how to speak comfortably about our strengths and achievements without sounding cocky. Plus, we learn that thinking well of ourselves is not on and others who do it are over the top.

There is a middle ground where modest bragging is an acceptable behaviour to cultivate. Bragging can be modest in the sense that we are both restrained and not arrogant in the way we speak about ourselves.

How to we modestly brag about strengths and achievements?

1. First we need to know what our strengths and achievements are. Spend time listing these. If we don’t know what they are the mind goes blank so we don’t even get started.

2. Accept our strengths and achievements. We’ll be tempted to censor out what we are good at by comparing to other people and perceiving that we do not measure up. Focus on what you are good at and what you have done.

3. Work out what the achievement represents for you. What did it take to make the shift that resulted in your success? What can seem ordinary to one person is a major achievement for another by virtue of their circumstances. Overcoming fear of deep water takes a major shift for a person who has feared water all their life. For an Olympic swimming athlete this might not be of concern! However they may need to make a huge shift to write an article or speak in public.

4. Develop ways of speaking about strengths and achievements that you are comfortable with and that sound acceptable to others. This may involve changing some of your language patterns.

5. Develop ways of expressing these views so that you are heard and taken seriously. If you sound unconvinced then others may well pick up on your uncertainty.

Modest bragging is a learnable skill. It may require some shift in thinking and therefore a dash of Mental Nutrition. However the better we are at it the more our confidence grows.

Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.