Blow Your Own Horn Part 2: Downplay is The Wrong Play

The person best equipped to praise your brilliance is you! Sure, we’d love other to do it for us, but if we don’t equip them, how can they? In my first take on this topic we looked at 5 ways to demonstrate the great things you’ve done. Feedback was great so here is the flipside of the topic – what to avoid…

1. Qualify your success
If you lost .8 of a lb, you lost a pound! No one said rounding was illegal or lying. It’s normal.

Acknowledging a team effort is important but not at the expense of your own contribution. “It was a great group success, and I was pleased to lead the workshop design element.”

2. Act Sheepish About Numbers
When I was building my business I shared with very few people when I cleared my first million in revenue.  I was worried about how it would change people’s view of my. Now I proudly (not arrogantly) let people know that I built a mid-seven figure business within my first five years, during a recession.

If you managed a large budget or a project impacting thousands, tell people. It’s fact!

3. Tell People You Are Lucky

If you made a lot of money during the dot com boom, claim it, don’t excuse it. You were SMART, n

ot lucky. Working hard, doing the right things leaves you in the best position to take advantage of circumstances. I’ve been successful because I took risky steps when the opportunities presented themselves. Fortunate, yes. Lucky, No.

4. Accept Others’ Explanation of Your Accomplishments
Sadly, there are those who will steal your thunder and take credit for your work. Quote the facts. When I led the change management team at Cenovus, I did not do much that directly impacted the uptake of the transformation project at the front line, but I was leading a team of people who did, and without me it would not have been the success that it was. Period.

5. Bury Your Accomplishments in Blathering
There’s a reason why professionals practice short explanations of who they are and the value they deliver; Lengthy descriptions don’t help – they hinder. Be concise. You don’t need to ‘set up’ a punchline with an hour of context. Whet the appetite enough for them to ask for more detail.
“At The Salvation Army I applied an innovative approach to transformation that drove action without endless analysis. 13,000 are using the new program right now. “
Changing Your Mind
As with many things, it’s all in the delivery. Talk through your accomplishments so they become comfortable. If you are anxious or self-conscious they can sound insincere. With a peer practice:

  • Providing key facts about something you did in 15 seconds or less.
  • Taking credit where credit is due
  • Accepting praise without flinching or grinning like an idiot
  • Gently correcting a statement that downplays your greatness. Start with, “Thank you. It was great to have the opportunity to…”

Blow that horn!

Thoughtfully Yours,

Jeff works with growing businesses and aspiring non-profits to help them establish leadership positions. He also works with executives who want to accelerate their growth. Learn more about Jeff here. 

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