How to Tell People You’re Good without Bragging

Like a peacock showing off its colors, we have to show off our skills without bragging.

Why is hard for some of us to talk about how good we are?

Why do we feel as if we’re bragging?

Maybe we sound like we are bragging.

Ugh.

Whether you’re presenting your ideas to a corporate officer or meeting with a potential client over coffee, you have to talk about yourself, your talents, and your skills in a way that works without sounding as if you are bragging.

The ability to do this is a skill in itself.


Tell Stories

“If you done it, it ain’t bragging.” — Walt Whitman

People love stories, anecdotes that paint a picture. They also admire true stories of achievement that demonstrate how to overcome obstacles.

Use stories to illustrate what you’re good at.

For example, if you want to communicate how good your writing skills are, talk about a writing obstacle you once overcame:

I was once asked to write a brochure on a company’s investment plans at a sixth grade reading level. Let’s face it, when you have to use fund names like “Bond Investment Fund” or “Diversified Equity Fund,” you’ve pretty much overshot that sixth grade target. Yet I managed to do it by using simple words and sentence structures throughout the piece. I feel pretty proud of that.

You try it. It’s not bragging if you present the information factually and matter-of-factly.

What will you say if a potential client asks you how you solved their problem for another client in the past?


Be Honest

Don’t you have a spidey sense when someone is overstating their skills? You know bragging when you hear it.

It comes across as insincere. It’s off-putting. Lately, we’ve been bombarded by a constant onslaught of this.

It only works if, in fact, you can back it up.

The boxer Muhammed Ali always said, “I’m the greatest.”

And he was.

The thing that makes a difference is experience and expertise. If you’ve got the credentials, it’s not bragging.

Experience is hands-on learning. It leads to expertise.

For example, I can say (with modest pride):

“I’m a good writer. I’ve been published in major magazines, written and edited books, and spent my entire career writing and editing for my living.”

Those are facts.

Your turn. What is your experience and expertise, and how can you illustrate them with facts and examples? Not too many, just enough to make your point.


Be Enthusiastic

Do you like what you do?

Do you want to land this job or client?

Generate enthusiasm by imagining a successful outcome. This puts energy behind your words and enlivens how you communicate. It also mitigates any impression that you are bragging.

  • Get your hands and body into motion.
  • Smile as you talk about yourself.
  • Make good eye contact.
  • Use powerful, confident language.
  • Believe in yourself.
  • Take on the demeanor and attitude of a professional.

Remember, you’re only as good as people think you are. Often our skills and expertise don’t speak for themselves, and people don’t perceive us as experts. We don’t get the result we have earned and deserve unless we promote ourselves.

Try this: Stand and face a mirror. Describe an achievement that fills you with pride and watch how your body moves, note how your voice energizes, pay attention to your facial expressions. That tells people you’re sincere; that you’ve got what they want.

“Bragging is not an attractive trait, but let’s be honest. A man who catches a big fish doesn’t go home through an alley.” — Ann Landers

Need to polish your communication skills? Check out my e-course How to Communicate like a Pro at GoHighbrow.

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