"Before I took over managing the team, no one knew what they were doing. If it weren't for me, they'd probably be out of business." Cringe-worthy comments like that are usually met with an eye roll.
So how do you talk about your success without sounding like a blowhard? Becoming too modest minimizes your achievements. That can be a problem when you're looking for a promotion or applying for a new job.
But shying away from talking about your success isn't just a professional problem. It can affect your personal life too.
If you don't share your accomplishments with your friends and family, they won't be able to celebrate alongside you. But, how do you share the news that you got a prestigious award or an impressive accomplishment without sounding like you're bragging?
Here are seven tips for owning your success without sounding like a narcissist:
1. Stick to the facts.
Positive labels and sweeping generalizations equate to tooting your own horn. You'll sound more authentic when you stick to self-disclosure, as opposed to self-praise. So rather than saying, "I'm an excellent manager," say, "Since I took over, retention rates have improved."
Let your listeners interpret the fact. If they conclude you're an excellent manager or rock star leader on their own, you'll still come across as humble.
2. Give credit where it's due.
There's a reason academy award acceptance speeches tend to give credit to other people--thanking others helps you sound modest. So whether you've gotten a promotion or you got elected to office, acknowledge the colleagues, friends, or family members who assisted you along the way.
Say, "I couldn't have done this without my team's efforts," or, "I couldn't have done this without such a supportive wife." People enjoy hearing success stories that involve a team effort.
3. Keep the emphasis on your effort.
Don't make it sound like your accomplishments were easy. Otherwise, you'll sound arrogant. When you've accomplished something big, emphasize your hard work.
Say, "I worked hard to make this happen. It took a long time to get here but it's worth it." Listeners will appreciate your victories when they recognize the effort you put in to get there.
4. Express gratitude.
Acting like you deserve your good fortune makes you sound entitled. And that won't be endearing to anyone.
Show gratitude for your success by saying, "I'm thankful the organization gave me this opportunity," or, "I'm grateful the investors were willing to take support my ideas." Expressing your appreciation will show you are down to earth.
5. Don't belittle anyone else.
Disparaging remarks like, "No one else made even half as many sales as I did," won't elevate your status. Instead, put-downs will just make you sound mean.
Leave out comparisons whenever possible. If you crossed the finish line first, it's OK to acknowledge that. But avoid adding that the second place runner finished 10 minutes behind you.
6. Avoid the qualifier.
Saying, "I hate to brag, but..." won't excuse showing off. In fact, it will only draw attention to the fact that you're saying something that may be a turn-off and you're saying it anyway.
Instead of a semi-apologetic warning, emphasize your positive emotions. Say, "I'm excited to share...," or, "I'm happy to announce some good news..." before you tout your accomplishment.
7. Skip the humble brag.
Disparaging remarks won't offset your air of self-importance. Saying, "No one told me driving a Lamborghini would mean I'd get pulled over at least once a week," won't earn you any brownie points. In fact, studies by Harvard Business School show humble-bragging will make you sound insincere.
If you want to make a good impression, don't try to disguise self-promotion as a complaint. People will see right through it. It's better to directly communicate your accomplishments.
Get Comfortable With Your Success
Before sharing your success stories, consider why you want to tout your accomplishments. If you're seeking a promotion or you simply want others to celebrate along with you, touting your accomplishments can be a good thing.
If however, you're hoping to gain admiration so you can feel better about yourself, or your goal is to make others look inferior, don't share. Instead, you may need to do a little work on improving your self-worth and increasing your mental strength.
When you're comfortable with who you are and what you've achieved, you'll feel worthy of your success. And you'll feel less awkward talking about your accomplishments.