... without looking like you have a self-obsesh that's bigger than Kim Kardashian's.
Along with Vegemite, koalas and the Hemsworth brothers, there’s another thing Australia is known for – but it’s not quite as awesome. “Tall poppy syndrome” refers to the way us Aussies often bag out people who are successful. It’s not uncommon to hear someone described as “up herself” or “full of himself” if they speak out about their achievements.
It’s this unfortunate trait that might make you hesitant to admit your blog is killing it or you’ve reached your savings goal for fear of being cut down – hence the “tall poppy” metaphor. But if you can’t even imagine accepting a compliment by simply saying “thanks” (and not denying that you have good style/did a rad job of your modern history speech), well, it’s time you changed. Why? Because talking yourself up is one of the secrets of people who get what they want – you’ve just gotta know how to do it right.
Do you think Jennifer Lawrence would have scored incredible roles in films such asThe Hunger GamesandSilver Linings Playbookif she hadn’t insisted to her parents/agent/everyone who’d listen that she was kinda good at the whole acting thing? You’ve got to believe in yourself if you want other people to, says career and life skills consultant Tina Plavsic at Radiance (radiancedevelopment.com.au). “Confident people get noticed and tend to get ahead more than wallflowers,” she explains. “In turn you build your confidence which will help you in other areas of your life such as a job interview, first date or performance in a drama production.”
Tooting your own horn when appropriate is not just for personal gain (or becoming a famous actress) though. Like a smile, confidence is contagious and can help friends feel good about themselves, too. “We tend to admire people who are proud but not in a narcissistic way. You act as a role model to others and inspire them to do well,” says Tina.
So why do people hold back on giving themselves credit where credit’s due? According to Tina, it’s because we’re scared we’ll be rejected if we put ourselves out there. “When we hold back on sharing our achievements, it’s usually out of fear that we’ll sound ‘up ourselves’ or arouse resentment in other people who might be jealous,” she says.
But as you now know, having the confidence to admit you’re not a total failure as a human being is a must if you want to land that spot on the student representative council or convince your parents you deserve to be given a little more freedom. So, ready to be your own cheerleader? Just read this before you get out the pom-poms.
Say it proud (not loud)
The most common misconception about self-promotion is that you have to shout your achievements from the rooftops – or as we’re more likely to do in these modern times, from your Facebook account. Cringe-worthy status updates or high-fiving yourself in public are absolutely not necessary. “It can be a quiet confidence,” Tina explains. “You don’t have to be over-the-top if that’s not you.” So, er, how does it work, then? Tina shares her best advice for subtle ways to self-promote.
- Make sure the conversation is two-way and not just “me me me”. Give the other person an opportunity to talk about themselves.
- Compliment other people’s achievements as you find out about them. This provides you with an opportunity to share some of yours.
- Follow your news with a question. For example, “I just got accepted into that course, which I’m so excited about! How do you think I can fit it in with school and everything else I’m doing?”
- If someone expresses interest in getting involved in something you’ve done well at, then mention it. You could say something like, “I loved that book when I studied it last year. I actually got an A for that assignment so if you need any help understanding the book let me know.”
- Be a good listener and supportive friend. When you do things for other people (like encourage them to be successful) they’ll see you as genuine and truly be happy to hear your good news.
Tina’s number-one tip for making yourself look good, subtly? Accept compliments! We have a tendency to deflect when someone comments on our outfit or tells us we’re funny, but you’ll see how good it feels if you stop denying and just accept the nice things friends say about you. “It’s really simple! All you need to do is say ‘thank you’. It’s easy,” says Tina.
Beware the brag book
Unfortunately it’s a little trickier to publicise our achievements online than when it’s face-to-face, says Tina. “Simply making an announcement that you absolutely nailed your look on Saturday night may come across as boasting,” she explains. Another trap to avoid is the “humble brag”. This refers to any comment that’s clearly a brag in disguise. Here’s a classic courtesy of Rebecca Black’s Twitter feed: “That awkward moment when you're watching the AMAs and BAM there you are.” See what she did there? Come on Rebecca, you might as well say, “I was at the American Music Awards. THAT’s how awesome I am.”
Sidestep the humble-brag club with Tina’s advice: “Unless it’s within a conversation, avoid big statements alone as they don’t tend to make a good impression.” So, when it comes to trumpet blowing, stick to real life and keep it to the right place at the right time. Unless, of course, you ever score a date with Harry Styles. Then we grant you full bragging rights!