What harms modest boasting and how to talk about achievements without falsehood

What is humble boasting

This is an attempt to mask boasting behind self-criticism or complaints. The true purpose of such behavior is to draw attention to their own achievements.

Such statements usually sound like this:

  • “I have lost so much weight that my clothes no longer fit. It’s terribly annoying!”
  • “I hate hearing my voice on TV!”
  • “It’s true: the more money, the more problems!”
  • “What are my shortcomings? Oh, I’m too hardworking …”
  • “It’s so hard to choose between Gucci and Prada!”
  • “I have no idea why they made me employee of the month.”

Humble boasting is found everywhere, from everyday life and social networks to the statements of political leaders.

The term itself (in English – humblebragging) was coined by comedy writer, screenwriter and producer of the series “Parks and Recreation” Harris Wittels. In 2010, he created a Twitter account of the same name, in which he collected posts with modest boasting.

Why do people modestly brag

They want to sit on two chairs. On the one hand, talk about your successes. On the other hand, to appear restrained and polite.

Few people love braggarts, but modest people are treated, if not with respect, then definitely without irritation. Therefore, people may think that modest boasting is the best way to avoid criticism and envy.

Why Humble Bragging Doesn’t Work

People see insincerity. False modesty and veiled boasting are much more annoying than outright boasting.

This is even confirmed by scientific studies. So, scientists from the University of North Carolina and Harvard Business School conducted several experiments to assess the prevalence and effectiveness of modest boasting. In one experiment, students were approached by a person who allegedly collected signatures for a petition. In passing, he mentioned that he was going to Paris for a paid internship. Sometimes the bogus picker simply boasted, and sometimes he complained that he could not choose where to go after all. In the second case, the petition was signed by 20% fewer people.

In another experiment, participants were shown various statements from Twitter. For example: “When will the maids clean up so that I can work out? #waste of time”. Or: “I have two maids.” People were asked to describe their emotions and rate the honesty and competence of the authors of the posts. In the end, most found the humble braggarts less knowledgeable and attractive than the more direct speakers.

How to brag without false modesty

In order not to fall into such a trap, do not forget about the following.

Be honest

Talking about your successes is normal and even useful . If you’re proud of a promotion or a nice house, say so. Just try not to hide your feelings behind false phrases, so as not to pass for a cunning or deceitful person.

You can focus on facts, not emotions. For example, tell how much and how hard you worked for a promotion. Or how much effort it took to build a big house.

Don’t forget those who helped you

This is the best way to avoid criticism and at the same time thank loved ones or colleagues. Try celebrating other people’s contributions to your accomplishments. For example, without the help of other employees, it would be more difficult to increase sales of the company, and it would be almost impossible to build a house without family support.

Respect others

Try to be not only honest, but also tactful – it is important to remember the feelings of others. The same events can evoke different emotions in different people. The news of the promotion may well have offended a colleague who dreamed of this position. In such a situation, it is better to restrain yourself and share your successes another time.

Remember relevance

It is worth talking about achievements when the situation calls for it. For example, if you were asked how work or study is going. Or when other interlocutors are discussing recent purchases or some professional achievements.

It’s definitely not worth artificially shifting the conversation to the topic of your promotion or a new spacious house. People will easily notice that you have begun to ask leading questions or, as it were, accidentally remember some things.

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