Have you ever thought, “My work speaks for itself,” or, “If I just put my head down and do good work, I’ll get recognized?” After all, if you toot your own horn, wouldn’t that be obnoxious? Better to be humble… Or at least that’s what I thought. I was already transitioning out of this thought pattern when I stumbled across Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn without Blowing It by Peggy Klaus and it just highlighted why I needed to shake off that mindset ASAP.
“For most of us, mastering the art of bragging is easier said than done. The problem with self-promotion is this: We think it’s necessary to choose between remaining obscure or sounding obnoxious, like “one of them.” Fortunately there is a bragging middle ground – an artful way of communicating and turning the spotlight on yourself that will not only feel natural and comfortable to you, but to those on the receiving end as well.”Brag!
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Wow. What a great read! This book was recommended to me by a friend after her mentor(s) recommended it to her. I’m so glad that I picked it up. Don’t think of this book as a bragging handbook. It’s a tool to effectively communicate with yourself as the subject.
No one knows you as well as you do.
Let’s say it again (a little louder for the people in the back). No one knows you, what you do, and advocates for you, as well as you do.
That puts you in a unique (and sometimes terrifying) position of needing to know your worth and assert it. Why? Do you want a promotion? A raise? Acknowledgement? You won’t get it (or maybe you will, but not as efficiently) without laying the groundwork and advocating for yourself.
It’s already hard enough being a woman, much less a woman in the workplace. We’re more likely to shrug off compliments or share credit with the team. Maybe we may think that we’re being humble (that’s a good thing, right?) or that we don’t want to draw undue attention to ourselves (it’s so obnoxious when other people do it).
But hon, that needs to change.
I’m not saying –and neither is this book– that you need to start bragging obnoxiously to anyone and everyone. But you need to accept praise when it’s sent your way and be equipped for situations where people ask you to talk about yourself.
Let’s put it into perspective.
Let’s say your bestie wants a big promotion at work and just completed a big project with her team. They did such a good job that management saw and came personally to congratulate them. When given a shout out by a coworker/her boss/someone else, she smiled and a little bit bashfully said, “it was really a team effort.”
Now you, as the best friend would probably be like, “Accept the compliment! Do you not remember how hard you worked on this project?” because you know saying that diminished the hard work she put in and was a missed opportunity for her to show her leadership potential for the promotion.
Now that’s just a small example, but think of that for yourself. Why is it that we can hype up our friends so much more than we hype up ourselves? It’s time to reclaim that. Would you be sad if she missed out because she never spoke about her skills and accomplishments? I would. And that applies to you, too.
Maybe it’s not a promotion, but a raise. Little things like this are missed opportunities to toot your own horn!
How to brag and toot your own horn without being obnoxious.
First of all, work on changing your perspective. You’re not bragging. You’re communicating your skills and accomplishments as well as accepting compliments that people give.
But now, to the actual practical stuff:
- Be prepared to toot your horn. Make a brag kit!
- What makes you special?
- What have you done lately and why is it important?
- How have you added value?
- Do you have a quick two sentence summary of yourself or you latest accomplishments? What about a five minute one? Different situations will call for different levels of detail.
- Being unprepared can lead to missed opportunities, or rambling (which may backfire).
- Make sure you update your speech(es) every so often.
- Read the room.
- Is now a good time to insert what you’ve prepared? For example: if your boss is asking you what you’ve done this week and you did something, then yes! However, if you’re hanging out in the breakroom and everyone’s talking about their weekends, maybe not (or maybe, so long as it’s related).
- This one is bigger for the way your words will be perceived!
- Practice. Bragging is definitely a skill. You can develop it, just like habits! It just takes some practice.
Peggy Klaus lays it all out in Brag! including a set of questions for a personal evaluation. You should really pick it up!
TLDR: Toot your own horn!
No one will advocate for you as much as you will. Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn without Blowing it gives you practical tools, solutions, and examples in how to be your best advocate. From highlighting your accomplishments without coming across as self absorbed, knowing how to pitch yourself, to recognizing what you bring to the table, this book will help you have prepared responses for everything from “Tell me about yourself,” to “What have you been working on lately?” You can then use this to ace interviews, ask your boss for that raise or promotion, or casually impress.
“Effective bragging starts with you. It is based on having a clear sense of who you are and what you have accomplished, as well as what you are accomplishing right at this moment.”Brag!
A definite must-read for everyone, but especially all the corporate girlies out there!