Let’s Roar! How to Promote Yourself without Sounding Arrogant

Self-promotion without bragging is one of the hardest skills to master. And, for women it can be even harder. Yet, it’s one of the most important skills for career and business success. As a recent study at Montana State University confirmed, women have a hard time speaking up when it comes to their achievements for fear they may sound arrogant or conceited. Men, on the other hand, don’t have this problem. While women feel uncomfortable touting their own success, men see self-promotion as a positive trait.

Here are some tips to help you feel more comfortable about promoting your achievements:

Log Your Accomplishments
This list is invaluable when it’s time to ask for a raise and/or promotion. And, you’ll be prepared with an accurate record of all the great things you’ve accomplished for your company along with a reminder to yourself about all of your on-the-job successes.

Just the Facts
Talk proudly about your achievements, but don’t overdo it. The key is to be concise in your explanation, stating the facts in a simple, direct manner. This conveys confidence without seeming arrogant and expresses pride without seeming boastful.

I vs We
Using “we” instead of “I” is a good rule of thumb to avoid coming off as a braggart. You can magnanimously talk about what a great job the “team” did while still making it clear that your contributions to the project, as part of that team, were very significant.

Accept Praise
When recognized for your accomplishments, whether from your boss or another co-worker, accept the praise with open arms! Never shrug off a compliment or downplay what you did. A sincere “thank you” and a firm handshake shows you appreciate their acknowledgement of a job well done.

Help from Your Network
The Montana University research also showed that women in the study had no problem speaking up on behalf of a friend. If you still find it hard to promote your achievements, turn to your network. Use your connections to bolster your confidence and have them put in a good word for you when needed. Remember, you can do the same for them, too.

All together now… let’s roar!

We want to hear from you! Have you talked positively about yourself lately? Do you find it easy or difficult to talk about your achievements?

Please leave your comments below and be sure to take our poll. When you’re done, keep the conversation going on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest!

  1. Ann Smithee

    Great article! This reflects wonderfully with our Maximum Professional Mission.With your permission, I would to use this as a reference source in our program. Thanks

    • Olisa Adger, NAPW

      Hello Ann,

      Thanks for your comment. We’re very glad that you enjoyed the article. Yes, you most certainly may use this article as a resource. We simply request that you include the URL.


    • Tenisha Ramos

      With today’s competition, I agree… It’s incredibly important to take a more aggressive outspoken approach to selling yourself/achievements. For years, I believed my resume, work ethic, reference letters would open up doors. I am learning the hard way, its not what you know but who you know and how much you believe in yourself!

  2. Sherry Pelfrey

    Can’t find the right words to promote yourself?…Use the words that others have said about you. Look back through your performance appraisals, commendation letters, etc. Those can be gold! Then simply state, “Supervisors have said I am dependable and energetic” or “Customers have written that I am helpful and made their transaction pleasant”.

  3. DeDe Wedekind

    This is very true! I have been accused of too much self promotion. But honestly as an award winning singer/songwriter, if you’re not out there doing at least some of that no one else will and you’ll get lost in the sea of talented artists!

  4. vanessa castillo

    I think the biggest advice we forgot in this piece is to stay humble. I believe that’s the best way to gain someones receptiveness. It is an easy trait to identify and to portray. There is something to be said about those who are very successful but maintain the gratefulness and attitude that it can all be taken away and they don’t forget the work and GRIT it took to gain the success they relentlessly pursued.

    • Dixie Rogers

      I am trying to find a balance in this and this morning I found a verse in the bible and was reminded that I am here to put others first. When I put my customers’ needs first, things fall into place. Sometimes I get excited about my business, and I forget that my success is a blessing from God.

      2 Phillipians 3-4
      3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
      4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

  5. Kathy Fletcher

    The National Notary Association awarded me as 2013 National Notary Of The Year. I had to speak in front of almost 1,000 notaries, friends, and dignitaries. In my acceptance speech, I choose to write the entire speech as a thank you to everyone who helped me become a professional. Through Toastmasters, I learned skills for becoming a better speaker. For those who find it hard, I cannot recommend enough that you join. It has been over a year, and I am still an active member.

    Many told me how great it was to hear me truthfully thank others and not focus on me, but rather how each notary in the room could someday receive this great honor. I still say thank you to Shawna Smith a notary I mentored for submitting my name for this award!

    Good luck and don’t forget to get your feet wet. It’s OK to learn.

  6. Karen Langreder

    I believe the comments are as useful as the article. Feedback from a personal source is always good to have.

  7. Toni Turner

    Thanks for this. For years I have had awesome feedback from people that I’ve helped or organizations I’ve served and I’ve kept it to myself as opposed to “documenting” (a great way to look at it) and making it known only to some times give my superiors the impression that I’ve not been effective in my work, and it’s all because I didn’t want it to seem that I was patting myself on the back, as some of my male counterparts actually do, so freely. This article has made me feel empowered to share what I’ve done.

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