Wisdom//

How to Communicate Your Wins at Work Without Sounding Arrogant

Studies show that confidence at works leads to the perception of competence.

serazetdinov/Getty Images
serazetdinov/Getty Images

Given how much time we spend at our jobs, it makes sense that we want to be good at what we do. And it’s not only about self-pride:
In order to get ahead, our managers and colleagues need to be aware of our accomplishments.

But a lot of the time, that’s easier said than done. Sitting around and waiting for someone to notice how successful you are at work isn’t very efficient. At the same time, you may be apprehensive about singing your own praises because you don’t want to come across as an arrogant jerk.

So what’s a hard-working employee to do? According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, in order to be perceived as more competent at work, we have to be more confident. This is based on a 1982 study that was replicated in 2018, both of which found that when a person communicates confidence in their own performance, their colleagues totally buy it. The trick is doing so without painting your co-workers as incompetent.

Aside from that, how exactly can we make sure our colleagues and managers know about our accomplishments without colleagues thinking you’re only out for yourself? We spoke with two experts to find out how to mindfully communicate our successes at work.

Give credit to your colleagues, too.

Praising your own work can be difficult, so Geoffrey Tumlin, Ph.D., a communication consultant and author of Stop Talking, Start Communicating: Counterintuitive Secrets to Success in Business and in Life recommends finding an authentic way to mention a co-worker’s contribution before highlighting your own greatness.

For example, Tumlin suggests saying something like, “You and Sarah were key players on the Gatorville project submission. I particularly appreciated how thoroughly you incorporated the client’s feedback into our final submission.”

Be specific about the value you added.

Rather than making blanket statements about what you think you’re doing well, give as many specifics as possible to shine a light on exactly what you did.

Building off Tumlin’s previous example, saying something like, “I was happy that my second reading of the Gatorville proposal uncovered the key pricing errors we needed to fix before submitting the final version,” lets people know precisely what you contributed and its benefit to a common goal.

Put your value in the right perspective.

Make sure you give some context to your accomplishments. As Tumlin puts it, you’re going to want to take the Goldilocks approach — not making your role sound too big or too small.

Something like: “Many hands enabled us to win the Gatorville contract, and I was delighted to have played a part in bringing such significant work to the company.”

This allows you to show that you’ve played a key role in the project without diminishing anyone else’s contributions.

Have another person talk about your success.

When it doubt, have someone else communicate your accomplishments at work, Michael B. Goodman, Ph.D., professor, former director of the M.A. in Corporate Communication program, and founder of CCI Corporate Communication International at Baruch College, The City University of New York, tells Thrive Global.

“Do this indirectly by being a good colleague to other professionals,” he explains. Put in the time and work to be a good colleague, and you’ll find allies at work who are able to speak to your accomplishments.

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