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Educators are often reluctant to call attention to their accomplishments and promote themselves in an overt manner. In fact, we can easily fall into the trap of speaking about ourselves in self-deprecating, critical, and negative ways, thinking that we need to be modest and humble. Yet, doing so can be dangerous to our physical and mental health, and it can undermine our confidence. Consider the words of Bruce Lee: “Don’t speak negatively about yourself, even as a joke. Your body does not know the difference. Words are energy… Change the way you speak about yourself, and you can change your life.”

It makes sense that if speaking negatively about ourselves is harmful, then sharing our skills, accomplishments, and victories should be beneficial. However, this can be tricky. We want to feel comfortable and authentic in our sharing—we need do it right.

Of course, we know the power of self-talk to enhance (or undermine) our emotional, physical, and psychological well-being. However, self-talk by definition does not involve others, so we do not have to worry about what others might think or how they will interpret our words.

When speaking with others, we certainly do not want to be seen as bragging or arrogant. We all know people who seem to be self-promoting on an almost constant basis. They cannot resist telling us about all the great things they have done and how important they are, even after we have stopped listening.

So, how can we share our successes, own our expertise, and improve our well-being without coming off as boasting? Consider these five strategies to leverage opportunities to share our impact and accomplishments.

Accept and respect compliments. Rather than dismissing or discounting the compliments we receive, we can accept and recognize the significance of what we hear. In response we might share our pride in how a project turned out, express pleasure that it was noticed, and even note that we are committed to doing even more. The key is to use the opportunity to own what we have achieved and acknowledge its significance.

Connect your success with others. When sharing a key accomplishment or goal achievement, we can include and give credit to others who also were a part of the effort. By praising the others who were involved, we avoid sounding as though we are bragging about solely ourselves, while still owning our contributions.

Leverage other’s questions. We can respond to a casual question such as “What have you been up to?” or “What’s new?” by sharing something special that we have accomplished, noting a challenge that we have met, or mentioning something significant on which we are working. While these questions may be presented without much thought, they offer important opportunities to share our accomplishments.

Take advantage of conversational context. Often, if we are paying attention, conversations can present us with openings to share our accomplishments and achievements. However, we need to keep our message short and relevant to our audience. Inserting a comment about a recent challenge or key accomplishment can convey the information we want to share without over sharing. If the other person is interested, they likely will ask questions that signal permission to share more.

Create safe conditions for sharing. We can also create opportunities for sharing positive information without awkwardness or embarrassment. For example, we might structure team meetings to begin with individual sharing of good news and recent accomplishments. Not only do these occasions provide opportunities for others to share, but they also open the door for us to add positive comments about our work. As a result, everyone will be more informed and feel better.

Volunteering information about our accomplishments can feel awkward, especially if we are not accustomed to doing so. Yet, others deserve to know the influence we have and the impact we make. Meanwhile, we will be helping to build our confidence and improve our well-being.   

Thought for the Week

When we understand another person’s perspective, what they are thinking and feeling, we are better able to relate to them and understand their needs.

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