October 1, 2012
Self-promotion is a must, but keep it simple
I’m excited for my bosses to read this so they can see what an awesome job I’m doing at column writing and at being handsome and great.
You see, the subject this week is bragging -- at which I’m very good -- and how it has become a sine qua non for workplace success. (My use of fancy Latin words is an indication that I’m very smart, too!)
First off, there are two types of office bragging. One is over-the-top and annoying (see the first two paragraphs). The other is an effective means of highlighting your work and getting the attention of the people who sign your paychecks.
But while every office has its resident braggart, few people are engaging in the kind of subtle self-promotion that is becoming critical to job security and advancement.
“Bragging is something that everyone needs to do,” says Peggy Klaus, a business coach and author of “Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It.”
“We go into a job interview and show our best selves and talk about ourselves in interesting and positive ways. Then we get the job and think, ‘Oh, man, we’re in.’ And that’s where the good bragging stops. And it’s absolutely nuts,” Klaus says.
In the current job market, the folly of being humble is particularly obvious. Companies that are downsizing are less likely to shake loose people they know are succeeding and working hard.
So how does anyone, male or female, brag in a way that won’t lead to the dreaded tag of “boot-licker”?
It requires subtlety.
Klaus suggests finding ways to weave positive things you’ve accomplished into a story, one that reveals a positive detail or two about yourself. In an example from her book, Klaus describes a woman named Lucille who started eating lunch around co-workers in the break room instead of at her desk.
During one conversation, Lucille casually brought up that she has a degree in women’s studies. The co-worker wound up telling the company’s human resources director about Lucille’s degree, and Lucille was put in charge of the company’s new diversity effort.
“You don’t need to roll out a laundry list of your successes,” Klaus says. “You do it intermittently.”
She says executives routinely tell her they want to hear good news from their workers.
Dorothy Tannahill Moran, a career development expert and founder of the Oregon-based company Next Chapter New Life, agrees that we live in a working world where it’s key to occasionally shine a light on yourself. She says short and sweet statements are best, ideally ones aimed at keeping your boss or manager abreast of your work progress.
She also says to avoid overusing “I” in conversations, as that’s an obvious sign of boasting. Try to keep things team-oriented, using “we” and sharing credit when things go well.
A final tip from Klaus hits on a situation most people have experienced. Say you’re getting into the elevator, and the boss -- with whom you rarely get face time -- walks in at the last second.
Klaus suggests always having something ready to say so you don’t miss an opportunity for on-the-spot stealth-bragging: “You could say, ‘Things are great. Just finished working on that report. Found a place where we can save some money, and I’m going to have it on your desk in 30 minutes.’ Just something simple like that. You’ve got to always be prepared.”
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