Workplace Rights

Weekly (9/10/12)

Topic of the Week  Bragging Works

  • Do connect the dots.
  • Do problem, action, result.
  • Do brag inclusively.
  • Don't diminish others.

Bragging Works: Talking Yourself Up At Work
Okay, we've all seen braggarts at work get promoted, while the hard working people who kept their noses to the grindstone don't climb the corporate ladder. That's why my advice this week could shock you. I think we all need to brag more. Especially women. For the simple reason that bragging works. Which reminds me of the famous quote by legendary football coach Bear Bryant, "It ain't bragging if it's the truth."
Who knew that coach Bryant would be such a sage observer of the workplace. According to a study on bragging from Kellogg School of Management, both men and women consistently overstated their performance, it's just that men bragged a lot more. Which led to an important observation, leaders often didn't discount all this extra bragging from men. It shouldn't be a surprise, therefore, that 33% fewer women were selected as leaders according to the study, given this brag deficit. So the question shouldn't be to brag or not to brag at work, but how to brag. Here are three Do's and one Don't for effective bragging.

Do connect the dots. You've probably heard someone say that it's important to be the CEO of You, Inc. However, it doesn't stop there. You also need to be the public relations person too. Everyone is too busy to connect the dots for you. You've got to take care of that on your own. Build support for your team, projects and, most importantly, for yourself. Let people know what you're doing and how it is helping the company. That's part of your job.
Do problem, action, result. Sure results matter. But so does understanding what the problem was that you solved and how you solved it. Without that others have no real context to judge the value of your skills and insight. So provide an overview by covering the challenge that you faced, your specific actions that you took to cope and what happened, as specific as you can be.
Do brag inclusively. It is very different to stand up for you team than to just feed your own ego. Try to make it about more than just you. The old saying is that there is no "I" in team and you need to be as sparse as you can with that specific vowel. Share the wealth.

Don't diminish others. There is often a tendency to build yourself up by tearing down others. That is often unnecessary and counter productive. Focus on what you did and leave putting down others out of it entirely. Sure it is tempting and could be emotionally satisfying. But over time it will just diminish your accomplishments.
Let me finish with something that drives me absolutely crazy. When your boss does the bragging for you and you argue with him or her about your accomplishments. I see this all the time. Please repeat after me, "Thank you boss." No criticizing yourself, no minimizing your accomplishments and no saying that anyone could have done it. Learn how to graciously accept a compliment.

Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via

Thought of the Week

"If I seem to boast more than is becoming, my excuse is that I brag for humanity rather than for myself."

–Henry David Thoreau

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

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