Your Take: The Benefits of Bragging

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Have you ever been in a situation where you could have said something, could have sold yourself—but you didn't? Maybe for some reason you held back and your deserved accolades went unrecognized?

Women have made strides in all aspects of society over the last few decades, but research shows that they are still less willing to brag about their successes than men. In fact, for many women, there is a deep-seated discomfort and anxiety that comes with self-promotion.

Jessi Smith, an Associate Professor of Psychology at Montana State University, researched the psychology of bragging in women. Tomorrow you'll hear from Smith and about her research into the psychology of bragging.

But first, we're opening the door for you to brag—tell us about a time when promoting yourself paid off—maybe on that last job interview or that cover letter you wrote? What about bragging makes you uncomfortable? Tells us about a time when you really wish you would have been less modest.

Or maybe there was time when you did promote yourself, only to see a backlash—less respect, less friends. Do you regret it?

We want to hear all types of stories about your experiences with modesty and self promotion. Call us at 1-877-869-8253 and be part of the conversation, or leave a comment below or by visiting us on Facebook.

Comments [8]

Leah G. from Boston, MA

Recently I decided to pursue a PhD program. I work full time and do volunteer work so a full time and traditional PhD was not an option. I enjoy the work I do by day (with college students) and I was not ready to give that up. My volunteer work (teaching kid's programs at a local farm) has been an important part of my life for 14 years now. I reached out to a professor (and friend) from undergrad and told him I was ready. I wanted to have my cake and eat it too. I wanted to keep my career intact and pursue a PhD. With his help I found the program he attended (a low residency model) to be a perfect fit. I was nervous to tell my colleagues but I did so anyway. I finished my application recently. The best part is I have the full support from my job and my volunteer positions as well! As it turns out my plan is to combine all of those responsibilities into my future dissertation. Never be afraid to follow your dreams and speak up at work. I also got a reference from our COO as a result.

Jan. 16 2014 09:01 AM
Linda from Corvallis, Oregon

When telling my mom I wanted to major in nuclear physics in college, I was given a sewing machine as a high school graduation present.

I had a statistics professor present a study on woman’s shoe size to predict her bra size. I asked, cup or chest measurement? He could not answer. Would there be a related study on men? Dead silence. Soon I dropped the class. Sometimes we cannot keep quiet.
I don't look for outside approval. Actions speak louder than words can save a woman when she has told a man no. I have a photo on my wall of Malala Yousafzai who was shot in the head by the Taliban for supporting education for Pakistani girls.
END

Jan. 15 2014 08:44 PM


Today's public / workplace culture, with its baked-in and persistent male-oriented values, still doesn't quite see women's actual strengths as publicly valid and valuable strengths.

Nevertheless, touting others' abilities and achievements, sharing credit, recognizing the importance of considering consequences when faced with the need to act on a complex problem -- these are actual strengths!

Women's strengths exist in plain and public sight. But we hear mostly silence from men when conversations turn to subjects of general interest, and value, to women. Good on you, J.H., for addressing our interests.

But who says we ought to be able to brag? OK, in the short term, we have to survive in the world as we find it. But also, we must be the change we want to see.

OK, enough of this. Back to job-hunting!

(I'm kidding.)

(Self-irony? Yup, yet another strength that's seen as a weakness, when it comes to public / workplace culture.)

Jan. 15 2014 05:09 PM
Patricia from San Francisco

Again, the answer to the question "Do women have more trouble bragging or touting their accomplishments?" is how to make us less uncomfortable as opposed to how to ensure both men and women are aware of their negative responses to such behavior. It is well documented that both men and women find such self-promoting behavior in women to be less likable, socially acceptable and ... negatively affects their hireablility.

Perhaps we are not uncomfortable with the bragging ... but with the responses it elicits.

Jan. 15 2014 04:04 PM
Carol Nelson-Burns, Ph.D. from Kelleys Island, Ohio

A faculty member, completing doctoral studies at the same time, I learned a great deal about self-reporting (e.g, 'bragging')--both its necessity and its sometimes irrelevance--in the promotion and tenure processes, both of which required annual documentation and presentation of accomplishments. If a candidate did NOT taut her or his accomplishments, the several oversight committees were not likely to fill-in-the-blanks. So it was essential that a candidate learn to brag.

However, 'bragging' alone did not secure the goals of promotion, tenure, or receiving merit moneys. The tradition of peer review supposedly ensures integrity and negates bias, intentional or otherwise, as does the publishing concept of 'blind review.' Of course both concepts can be corrupted for self-interest, i.e., preserving the status quo, protecting the pool of moneys to be shared, etc. And since only those of one 'class' (e.g., 'assistant,' 'associate,' or 'full') vote to allow a new candidate into that class there is potential for elections to be biased. As salary increased and merit moneys were awarded on a percentage basis rather than a flat rate, in my experience, the rich got richer, widening the financial gap, the prestige, the power. Study after study showed that females, no matter their ability to brag, were ranked lower, earned less, and advanced less quickly.

In short, bragging was required, essential--but still not always effective. NOTE:for my part, I received merit moneys frequently and advanced as far as I attempted to go; my comments are thus not 'sour grapes,' but based on interviews, observations, and research.

Jan. 15 2014 03:03 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Native born New Yorkers like to brag about outrageous behavior. The key is to always have witnesses.

Recently, I was able to bet co-workers that I would throw a snowball at the head of a very strict no-nonsense tough manager, who I was having problems with.
The fellas thought I was bluffing, and I was, and then moments later it happened.
I guess cause it was the New Year, and it was fresh snow, and we were going to go home early, she made a snowball.
Seeing that, I gave her a look, you know that twinkle in the eye look of being a kid. She took the bait and threw a snowball at me.
In retaliation, I made a snowball and whipped it at her. I missed her face by inches, because she ducked. She moved so fast that her glasses fell off the top of her head and onto her nose.
The fellas didn't care about her throwing the snowball first or understand how this could happen. They only saw me throw the snowball at her head which I just said that I was going to do.
My reputation continues to grow among the staff and I no longer have a problem with that boss.

Many people fear my outrageousness and it has kept me back in some ways, and then it has propelled me to be the life of the party in others

Once, after a night of a neighbors noisy party which kept my kids up and crying all night, I walked downstairs into the street naked after my wife said, "Aren't you going to do something about this?"
I was angry that I am always the one who has to do things where ever I am
With just slippers on and buff, I went downstairs into the street.
I scared the hell out of a bus load of drugged out hipsters who were going on some road trip after their massive party. I walked onto the bus, and said something. Dead silence.
I ruined their day and their high, as much as they ruined my sleepless night. I had some reputation in the neighborhood after that.
(People were looking out their windows at the commotion. I'm glad the cops didn't show up, I had no I.D. on me.)
Yeah, outrageous behavior in New York goes far in getting street cred.

My life has been blessed with a life of outrageous behavior and I do love to brag about it most.
Last summer, my girlfriend wanted to go to The Monkees show upstate. We had no tickets. I said,"I can get us in for free."
It happened, but that's another story isn't it.

Jan. 15 2014 02:02 PM
roman kozak from Omaha

To respond to your comment.
NO, BRAGGING IS NOT OK.
when I hear the infantile rantings of Kanye West or such, I lose all respect which i may possibly have felt for them. Bragging is a mark of immaturity and insecurity. These guys come across like 10 year olds who desperately want someone to believe that they are worth something, but do not even believe it themselves.
One of the marks of maturity is knowing that if you have done something which is truly noteworthy, others will comment on it, and so you don't have to.
The flip side of this is that if someone is bragging on himself, he cannot be believed, for the same reason.
Bragging on oneself is one of the best ways to lose any and all respect from mature, thinking people.

Jan. 15 2014 12:47 PM
Joe Phillips from Seattle, WA

I found my guidance on bragging in the movie "The Big Country" from Gregory Peck's character James McKay.

Jan. 15 2014 12:25 PM

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