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Career Advice

How to Master the Art of Bragging Like a Pro

Posted by Amy Elisa Jackson

Last Updated January 10, 2017

We’ve all heard the sayings: “Don’t talk about yourself, people won’t like you,” “A job well-done speaks for itself,” “Humility gets you noticed,” and “Good girls don’t brag.”

Well, 2017 calls for a new attitude and a new approach. Forget everything negative that has been associated with bragging. This year, bragging is the new black.

“Bragging is an art, an individual form of self-expression and communication that, once mastered, is the key to opening doors.” At least, that’s what executive coach Peggy Klaus contends. In her book, Brag!: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn without Blowing It she argues that in today’s fast-paced, dog-eat-dog world of business, bragging is a necessity, not a choice. While it used to be deemed polite to downplay your successes, Klaus argues that nowadays being coy only opens the doors for others to take credit for your work and steal the promotion that had your name written all over it.

“I’m not asking you to talk about yourself like you’re calling in an American marching band," says Klaus. "Bragging in my book is subtle and seamlessly works it way into social and business interactions. If you do it right, they won’t know what hit them."

So how do we rewire our brains to brag like a boss, instead of a showoff? First things first. Remember to be subtle. The goal is to sell your best asset—yourself— without turning off others.

Here’s a step by step guide to bragging like a pro. Whether your goal is a raise in 2017, more praise from your manager or simply to step into your own greatness, bragging in the right way can help you achieve all three. Here’s how:

1. Be conversational. Don't over-do it.

"When it comes to bragging about yourself, you need to get creative in telling your story and conveying juicy suggest about yourself. If you recite a boring list of facts, or speak in generic terms about yourself and what makes you special, you’ll come off as colorless and unmemorable. And if you’re on of those people who are prone to dropping brag bombs—either facts about yourself that are out of context, stop, or spirit of the conversation or those delivered in a way that makes people yawn—you are going to come off as downright self-serving or a plain or bore," says Klaus. "Bragologues are powerful in getting people to think about you in just the ways you want. These pithy and entertaining “monologues” are woven together with a few memorable or impressive nuggets of information called brag bites―pieces of relevant facts, such as clients that you’re working with, how long you’ve been in the industry, or a project you’ve recently completed."

2. Understand the social (albeit frustrating) limitations.

"Women have what I call a narrower band of acceptable communication and behavior than do white men. (By the way, women and men of color have an even a narrower band). In order to offset that, and do and say whatever it is they need to, they just have to be more mindful about how they do it," says Klaus. There is a way to talk about yourself in a very gracious, graceful manner without being obnoxious or turning your audience off, and women have got to learn how to do that in order to get the jobs, the promotions, and the bonuses and salaries they deserve."

[Related: We Have to Get Real, The Racial and Gender Pay Gap Exists]

3. Avoid excessive use of the word "I."

"There can be a backlash due to deeply ingrained cultural and gender stereotypes, and if the person brags badly. For example, the consistent use of "I," talking incessantly about oneself, not engaging in a conversation or asking questions of the other person, among others."

4. Keep it simple.

"Step one of your bragging campaign is quite simple. Every day remind yourself of four things: you name, your title, your responsibilities, and the positive things you are accomplishing right now for your organization. Have them on the tip of your tongue, raring to go. Leave things to chance and you’ll find yourself rambling, stumbling and missing out when opportunities come calling on the fly."

[Related: How to Prepare For The "Tell Me About Yourself" Interview Question]

5. Shy? Just start with your name.

"For the rest of your career, when you are in a meeting, look around the room and, size permitting, make it a point to personally introduce yourself to every single person in the room. When doing so, imagine you are introducing and very good friend and not yourself. It makes it much easier. Just do it. Say your name, mention what you do with a smile and upbeat energy, and then let the bragging begin.”

6. Always be ready.

"Good self-promoters know this: They’re always planting seeds for the future. Smart self-promoter show up prepared. They value face time with others and are always ready with stories about themselves that break through the verbal clutter. They know that positive regard from others isn’t going to “just happen” on job interviews, at performance appraisals, during presentations or at networking functions. And it’s unlikely to “just happen” by marching into the CEO’s office and asking for an appointment to discuss how wonderful you are. It’s not going to happen unless you make it happen, and the creme-de-la-creme opportunities to self-promote are going to come your way when you least expect them.”

[Related: 5 Ways to Eliminate Salary Negotiation Anxiety in 2017]

7. Take the temperature and time it right.

"The art of tooting your own horn is knowing when and how to toot. It’s always keeping your sensitivity antenna raised. For example, a funeral is hardly the appropriate time to launch into a bragologue. Walking into your boss’ office when he or she is immersed in a crisis makes equally poor bragging sense."

8. Unleash your inner storyteller.

No, don't lie. But be entertaining and captivating with your bragging. "If you weave your accomplishment artfully and entertainingly into the conversation, no one will think you’re a show-off. In fact, they’ll ask to hear more."

Want more?Check out Klaus' book Brag!: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn without Blowing It

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