Toast the Boast: How to Brag Without Being Obnoxious

How do you sell yourself and your business without sounding conceited? 7 tips for fine tuning your bragging skills.
Author, Profit First
April 02, 2013

Bragging existed long before the Internet was invented. But with the rise of the social media, there have been many more displays of “Look at me! Me, me, me.” Bragging is a surefire way to make people dislike you in general, but it’s a horrible strategy to follow in business. Yet if you don’t tell people how great you are, who will?

Here’s the deal: If you feel you need to boast to prove your importance ... you’re probably not a VIP. In fact, conventional bragging does the opposite of what you’ve intended. Bragging doesn't convey confidence; it conveys insecurity. And that’s exactly why you need to know out how to sell yourself and your business without putting people off. In fact, when done correctly, the "brag" will actually get people to like you. It's an essential skill for every small business owner, and the true masters are often rewarded in spades.

If you convey confidence to your listeners, people will recognize your strengths sans the Tarzan chest pounding. Follow these seven steps and you can become a self-marketing master:

1. The confidence mindset. That mind of yours controls everything you do when you present yourself. It controls the tone of your voice, the energy of your presentation and your overall feeling or vibe of confidence. Before you can exude the kind of confidence that makes people around you swoon, you have to be absolutely convinced in your own mind of your superior talents and abilities.

This mindset immediately gets you out of the bragging mode (where you need to prove to others how wonderful you are) and puts you in a confidence mode (where you can show instead of tell). That kind of energy is contagious, and people will feel it without you saying a word.

2. The confident stance. Our body language is the most powerful form of communication we have. If you slouch or have slumped shoulders and poor posture, people know you don’t believe your own story. If you’re avoiding eye contact, people will think you’re lying. Stand straight and look ‘em in the eye. Practice in front of a mirror if you have to.

RELATED: 7 Body Language Mistakes to Avoid

3. Ask questions. Braggers make the mistake of constantly spewing excessive information. They use the classic “show up and throw up” approach. But the most confident people ask questions of their listeners to gauge how much they know. Only when they find something the listener doesn’t know, do they gently present their knowledge. For example they may say, “That’s interesting. My experience is somewhat different, and I will gladly share if you feel it may be of value ...” and then they are positioned to deliver an anecdote that can woo a listener.

4. Use non-confrontational language. If you ever say “You're wrong,” or “the truth is” or “no,” you’re starting a confrontational dialogue and you will probably be perceived in a negative light. Practiced self-promoters give the other side an escape hatch. They use language that starts with, “That’s really interesting. My experience is ...,” “I once observed ...,” or “I have heard of a situation...” In every instance, they are giving the listener an opportunity to hold on to their own story while deflecting the potential for conflict. This allows the listener to “save face,” to still have confidence in themselves, to be non-defensive and be influenced by or integrate their experience with the speaker’s knowledge.

RELATED: 5 Wicked Words Sabotaging Your Success

5. Be vulnerable. One of the top complaints about braggers? They position themselves as superior to others. To avoid this, make sure you are viewed as equal to others, just with different experiences. We are all fans of people who are like us, so show how you are the similar to the people you're speaking with. Then simply highlight your different experiences without casting it as superior knowledge.

6. "We" rules. Non-braggers use the word “we” way more than “I.” When the successful self-promotor has a victory, she points to the success of the entire team and to anyone involved directly and indirectly. However, they also know to use “I” to point to their own responsibility for problems.

7. Let your actions do the talking. The most important quality of non-braggers is the way they use their actions, not their words, to get noticed. It is the way proper self-promoters conduct themselves that garners the recognition they deserve.

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Photo: Getty Images

Author, Profit First