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    The Keys to Effective Bragging

    Tuesday, June 07, 2011

    Walt Whitman once said, "If you done it, it ain't bragging." That may be true, but while it's important to keep your light shining, self-promotion done wrong can be obnoxious and off-putting, a detriment to your career.

    When you have to promote yourself, whether to earn a raise or a promotion, or simply to establish credibility, how can you do so without seeming a braggart? Ah, my friend, there are ways.

    First of all, always be professional in your "gasconade." By this, I mean focus on details, facts, numbers. As Walter Brennan used to say in The Guns of Will Sonnett, "No brag. Just fact." Did your logistics plan boost efficiency? Give measurement details and statistics. Is your sales record impressive? Present the numbers.

    Next, employ positive yet modest wording. Avoid superlatives like "the best," which suggest an unattractive competitiveness. Again, refer to the facts. It's okay to remind a supervisor of situations where your work or ideas were instrumental in improving some aspect of the company. Explain clearly and precisely how you contributed.

    Finally, remember to be a little humble. You don't have to be all "Aw, shucks," but don't make a big, noisy deal out of your achievements. (Let others do that for you.) Give credit to other people who contributed, making it clear that while you proposed an effective idea or did the bulk of the work, there were others who helped. Teamwork is highly prized in business, and graciousness in giving credit actually makes you look even better.

    Self-promotion can be effective when its purpose is not perceived as "puffing you up," but simply making clear your strengths and contributions. It's just one more way effective communication plays an essential role in business.

    —Joyce B. Lee

    Photo by Florin Draghici