Tell me, does this sound like bragging to you?
Imagine a social media post – choose your own favourite brand/platform – I’m sharing a win, celebrating an achievement, posting a link to an article that I’ve had published or an amazing invitation that I’ve received…
Showing off or an invitation to celebrate with me? What do you think?
Now imagine for a moment that you are the one doing the sharing about a success that you’ve experienced – does it feel any different?
I had some interesting discussions this week about whether it was acceptable to share a significant professional success in a social media post.
I was surprised that the majority opinion in the group was this self-promotion was showing off, unpleasant, bragging.
They didn’t like it in general and they wouldn’t do it themselves… I thought they were missing out on an ethical opportunity for self-promotion and a chance to invite their peers to celebrate with them.
I was fascinated by the links and the limiting beliefs and I was reminded then of how I have changed over the years. At the start of my career as a young and enthusiastic postdoctoral researcher I thought that being good at my job was the route to a successful career. At the time, I too felt self promotion was unpleasant and frankly unnecessary. Surely good work would be recognised?!
It didn’t take me too long to realise my naivety. In addition to being good at the technical aspects of my job I learned there was a whole set of skills in ethically communicating my value to the people around me that I had never received any training in at all, not during my degree, not during my PhD.
Learning those lessons and developing the skill set was an uphill struggle for me. I only became comfortable with this after I really understood the value that I contributed in my professional role and it still took time to unpick the unhelpful associations with social conditioning around being small and discrete, knowing my place and thoughts like “Who do you think you are?!” or “Nice girls don’t show off”.
Today I have many more tools to help me think about limiting beliefs in a different way and the 4 questions from “The Work” of Byron Katie certainly can help. There’s no particular desired outcome beyond flexibility, offering you the chance to explore different thoughts that you might hold or believe if you wanted to… In my coaching and training I usually offer my clients the frame of “Is it helpful or unhelpful?”
This is how it might go. Byron Katie’s four questions:
Question 1: Is it true?
Question 2: Can you absolutely know it’s true?
Question 3: How do you react—what happens—when you believe that thought?
Question 4: Who would you be without that thought?
So, is sharing a social media post about your success showing off, unpleasant bragging?
Ask question 1: Is it true? The first answer was “Yes, I believe it is showing off, bragging”.
Ask question 2: Can you absolutely know it’s true? The reluctant answer was “No, I can’t be absolutely certain they’re bragging but I know I don’t like it.”
Ask question 3: How do you react—what happens—when you believe that thought? “Ah. If I believe they are bragging and showing off then I don’t like them for doing it. And it makes me feel uncomfortable.”
Ask question 4: Who would you be without that thought? A more nuanced range of answers emerged in discussion starting with “Well if I didn’t believe they were showing off and bragging then I’d be as bad as them” and evolving into “I would feel more comfortable sharing my own successes if I didn’t think it was showing off and bragging.”
So in the context of self-promotion where do you stand on this one? Is it helpful or unhelpful?
Would you publicly announce and celebrate a moment of success yourself? What do you feel when others do it?
Do let me know your thoughts!
PS If you’d like the opportunity to explore the way you think about self-promotion or ethical ways to advance your career, do drop me an email. I’d love to help you explore your options!