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The stigma of bragging

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 I did my first Insta live the other night. I chatted for a while about all things related to confidently sharing your skills with the world.
 
When someone in a meeting is asking for ideas, and you've got a good one, do you say something? What about if someone says 'Oh {insert your name here}, you know how to do X, can you tell Y?' How do you react? Is it with confidence and clarity? Or instead, do you downplay your skills and experience so you don't stand out?
 
I hear it all the time "It feels like I am egotistical or bragging when I talk about myself online". It's okay for us to cheer on our sisters... but not ourselves.
 
This is because (for many reasons), there is a stigma around women discussing their strengths. And yes, there are issues like the Tall Poppy Syndrome that impacts men too. Not to mention a whole range of racial competence bias. I don't want to downplay those. But what I want to focus on is the ladies.
 
Let's look at this issue in a different way.
 
Should women be ‘modest’? Should we be seen and not heard? Should we defer to the men in the house or in the meeting? What about not letting others know you earn more than your man? It's emasculating right?

Well? Do you agree?
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If you're anything like me your inner-feminist is screaming 'NO fucking way'. But this is the mindset we are buying into if you stop yourself talking about your achievements. To avoid the discomfort.
 
Look. It's a real issue. There has been research to show that when women are 'self-promoting' they cop a lot of shade. They are considered less competent, less socially attractive and less hirable.

And, ladies, we are actually even more at fault. We tend to judge other women sharing their skills more
harshly than men do. It begs the question.. do you?

Be honest with yourself.
When you see other women sharing their successes or discussing their achievements, how do you feel? It's not likely to be an obvious thought that you have. But, watch the insidious little voices. Do we start to think of them as 'ball breakers?.

Bossy?
Maybe high maintenance?
We need to be able to see these our own internal biases if we want to break down the overarching stigma. Getting to the point that we can comfortably talk about our strengths is important. For our career. Our businesses. Our self-confidence.
 
So let's look at three straightforward ways we can get better at this.
 

1. Keep a brag book

(I even challenge you to call it that to get over the crazy resistance). No one has to see these notes if you aren’t ready. Keep a written list (a note in your phone, a google doc, whatever) of all the positive feedback, testimonials comments that you receive. Add to that list with things you are proud of. Your achievements. What skills you’ve learned. It's a given that we amplify the scale of the negative feedback or comments that we hear. They play loudly in our minds to the point that there is no room for the positive. This brag book will become a great reference for you to come back to when needed.

 

2. Brag to your sisters.

Set up a group chat with your closest girlfriends. On one agreed day a week share an achievement that you are proud of. Yes, it feels freaking weird to start with. You may find a gazillion reasons to 'forget' your post. But keep going. This exercise will help you two-fold. It gets you into the practice of sharing your skills and achievements with a safe audience. It also gives you the opportunity to observe how you feel when you hear your sisters say the good stuff. Does any of that deep ickiness come up? How can you work to change that perception? Maybe it's the opposite. You might get a buzz hearing your girls cheer themselves on. So much so that you realise 'self-promotion' isn't that bad.
 

3. Speak up

 
Once you've become more confident in your brag circles take it further. Challenge yourself to take just one step out of your comfort zone a week. Share a testimonial on social media. Offer your idea in that meeting instead of sitting back. Update your LinkedIn bio with some of the really good stuff. Remember - it's not bragging if it's based on the truth.
 
So hears my call to arms ladies. We need to identify and get over the icky feelings about other women when they self-promote. Then we will be able to this easier ourselves. If you are interested in listening to a recording of my original Instagram Live, you can visit my Facebook page for a replay



Side note:
If you get stuck even knowing what your skills and accomplishments are I understand. It's a challenge that my personal branding clients discuss with me a lot! The fear of saying it out loud is one thing, but another altogether to think that you have no skills to start with. (Note. I can guarantee you right now that's not the case). If this is the case and you feel the need for a little extra guidance in this, check out my personal branding group program - The Rainbow Way. There is two entire modules dedicated to this alone!
 
Cover photo of woman with Microphone via Unsplash
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