Andrea talks about how to communicate your skills and credentials without sounding arrogant or conceited. Learn three strategies for how to say nice things about yourself. “Your work does not speak for itself. You also must speak for your work.”

 

CONTENTS

  • Resources
  • Transcript

RESOURCES

Dr. Andrea Wojnicki & Talk About Talk 


TRANSCRIPT

Do you have a communication skills Q for me? If so, I’d Love to hear it!  Just go to talkabouttalk.com and click on the button that says, “Record your Q for Andrea.”

Recently, Amanda did just that.  Here’s Amanda:

 

Building my networking skills
How to confidently talk about credentials and accomplishments
While still coming across as genuine

 

Thank you, Amanda, for taking the time to ask me this Q.  I can tell you from my conversations with executives that this is a very common challenge.  

 

Many of us struggle with articulating our strengths, or as Amanda says, our credentials and accomplishments.  Why?  Well, simply put, we don’t want to come across as boastful …or conceited.  Or arrogant.

 

As Amanda so eloquently puts it, it can be challenging to say nice things about ourselves. 

 

But it’s important  that we learn to do so.  Why? Well, because

“Your work does not speak for itself.
You also must speak for your work.”

 

In this episode, I‘m going to share with you three strategies to help you say nice things about yourself. Are you ready?

 

Welcome to talk about talk episode #115, where we talk about how to say nice things about ourselves. I’m going to share 3 strategies to help you do just that.

 

First, let me introduce myself. I’m your executive communication coach, Dr. Andrea Wojnicki (please call me Andrea!). I’m also the founder of Talk About Talk. If you’re an ambitious executive with a growth mindset, then you’re in the right place. You’ve probably spent years learning how to do your job – the technical skills. When you look at the successful folks around you, you might notice that what differentiates these successful people typically isn’t their technical skills.  Rather, it’s their ability to confidently speak up. It’s the clarity of their message. It’s their communication. Now it’s time for you to up your game by focusing on YOUR communication. And that’s EXACTLY what we’re all about here at Talk About Talk.

 

If you go to the Talk About Talk.com website, you’ll find many resources to help you out. There are online courses, tip sheets, corporate workshops, one-on-one coaching, the archive of this bi-weekly podcast, AND, I really hope you’ll sign up for the Talk About Talk communication coaching newsletter. This is your chance to get communication coaching from me every week. Please sign up for that newsletter if you haven’t already.

 

One other thing before we get into this.  You don’t need to take notes, because I do that for you. I summarize everything at the end.  AND You can check out the summary and the transcript in the shownotes, which are on your podcast app and also on the talkabouttalk.com website.  As always, I got you covered. Just keep doing whatever you’re doing: walking, driving, doing housework, or lying on the couch. You don’t need to take notes because I do that for you. You’re welcome. 

 

Alright let’s get into this. I’m excited to help Amanda answer her Q

 

First, let me say that this is an incredibly common Q. I read that 7 in 10 women would rather minimize than share their success.  But I don’t need research to tell me this.  I hear it all the time from my clients – women and men, by the way!

 

Here’s some context that I hope will help you right out of the gates: If you’re worried about coming across as arrogant, then you’re probably not.  That’s the advice of my friend Lisa Bragg (yes Bragg) who studies bragging.  I love this point of hers.  If you’re concerned about bragging, you’re probably not. It’s that guy (or gal) who doesn’t give bragging a second thought who’s probably coming across as arrogant. 

 

But as Amanda so eloquently put it, it’s still really really hard to say nice things about ourselves. But we know we must.  Because, as I said,  “Our work doesn’t speak for itself. We also must speak for our work.” 

 

Think of it this way, it’s a quote from Kim Churches of the AAUW. (American Association of University Women).  She said, “The same silent work ethic that won us A’s in school won’t get us to the C-suite at work.” 

Absolutely true.  We need to get over this.

 

Back to Amanda’s Q. She asked how to confidently talk about credentials and accomplishments.  I encourage you to think about YOUR credentials and accomplishments. I’m sure there are several positive things that are worth reinforcing – nice things you should be saying about yourself.

 

Yes, this comes up for me sometimes when I’m sharing my credentials with, say, an HR leader who’s considering hiring me to run workshops or to do 1:1 coaching in  their organization. I want to tell them about my Harvard doctoral degree, and I want to tell them about the successes of my past clients, without sounding conceited or arrogant.  But again, my work does not speak for itself.  I also must speak for my work.

 

So, it might be credentials you’ve secured. Maybe a license or designation. Or a degree you earned. Or perhaps a school you attended.

It could also be a skill or expertise that you worked hard to acquire.

It could be an award you earned, maybe within your firm or perhaps an industry award.

It could also be something you accomplished in your job – maybe you exceeded the revenue or profit targets.  Or maybe you launched a new product or service, or maybe you solved a big challenge. 

And of course, the “nice thing” you want to share could even be a promotion or new job.

 

These are all examples of the nice things about yourself that you should probably be sharing. There are certain contexts or situations that we find ourselves in when sharing these things is expected. 

 

For me, as I said, it often comes up when I’m talking to someone who I hope will hire me. If you’re on the job market, you absolutely must be able to answer the Q about your strengths.  

And then there’s the dreaded Q: Why should we hire you? Or why do you think you’re ready to be promoted? This is where you DEFINITELY need to say nice things about yourself. 

 

But even if you’re not trying to land a new gig, there are other contexts when it’s critical to say nice things about yourself. Like when you introduce yourself, say at the beginning of a meeting, or anytime you’re meeting new people.

 

SO, there are PLENTY of nice things we should be sharing and there are plenty of contexts when we’re expected to share them. But how can we get our heads around this fear of sounding conceited or arrogant?

 

I’ve got three suggestions:

 

1. Three magic words: people tell me

You could say something like: “people tell me that I’m a natural leader and an effective mentor.”

Or “People tell me that they appreciate my knowledge and insights on this topic.”

Or “People tell me that I have a positive influence on the team and the culture.”

 

Do you hear how that works?  It’s almost like a testimonial. You’re sharing what others say about you.  Now, of course it has to be true. But you can really take the edge off a statement that might be perceived as arrogant by sharing what others have said about you.

 

Here’s your challenge: think about what compliments you’ve received, then think about how you can share these compliments with others.  “People tell me”

 

For me, I often hear that I have a lot of energy and enthusiasm when I conduct communication skills workshops. The workshop participants feel very engaged.  So, when I’m talking to that HR manager, I can easily say “people tell me that my workshops are highly engaging.  I have a lot of energy and enthusiasm.”  

 

SO that’s the first suggestion for saying something nice about yourself.  Use the three magic words: People tell me.

 

2. Don’t dwell.  Instead, divert to other details

 

This is one that I use when I talk about my degree.  Dwelling on my Harvard degree might sound off-putting.  We call it the H-bomb.  The Harvard bomb.

But I do need to establish my credibility and my credentials.  So, what do I do? I don’t dwell on the degree.  Instead, I divert to other details. I talk about my research, and what I learned.

 

“I earned my doctoral degree from HBS, where my research focused on interpersonal communication, consumer psychology, And word of mouth.  I ran experiments to demonstrate that blah blah blah.”  DO you see what I did there?  Instead of dwelling on the degree, I divert attention to relevant detail.

 

Let me think of a few other examples. 

If it’s an award you earned, talk about what an honour it was 

  • oh, an aside.  Please stop talking about being humbled.  It’s such a cliché. Most people won’t believe you.  Just say “it’s an honour.”  I feel like I could do a whole episode on this, with lots of examples.  I googled it and it’s not just me.  This is a whole thing.  When accepting an award, if you say, “I am humbled to receive this award,” it can sound insincere and/or it can sound as if you don’t know what it means to be humbled.  Instead, it’s much safer, more eloquent, and sincere sounding if you say, “I am honored” or “It is an honor.”  
  • Got it?  OK – I digress.  That’s my rant for this episode. Back to the list of examples for how to divert to other details.  If you’re talking about your degree, divert to details about your research or your classes. If you’re talking about your award, talk about what an honour it was.

If it’s a new credential or license you’ve secured, you could talk about what you’re able to do now.

If it’s a skill or expertise that you worked hard to acquire, divert to talking about some fascinating fact that people find useful.

If it’s a major accomplishment, like blowing away your sales targets, you could talk about how you did it.

You get the idea. You need to say nice things about yourself.  But you don’t need to dwell.  You can divert attention to other details.

 

So now we’ve covered the three magic words (People Tell ME) and don’t dwell. Instead, divert attention to other details. The 3rd and last way to say nice things about yourself?

 

3. Simply Call it out.

 

Be overt about it. You could say:

I’m actually very proud of that.

Or 

I recognize this as a strength.

Or you could even be perfectly explicit:

“I hate to sound like I’m bragging but this is something I’m genuinely proud of.”

 

Simply call it out. Get out of your head and just say it. Again, as my friend Lisa Bragg concludes, if you are worried that you’re coming across as a braggart, then chances are you are NOT. And furthermore, “Your work does not speak for itself. So, you must speak for your work.”

 

I think I’ve repeated that several times now. Are you convinced yet?  You simply MUST speak up for yourself.

 

So, Amanda, I hope I answered your Q.  Thank you for asking! The 3 ways that you can say nice things about yourself:

  1. Three magic words: people tell me.
  2. Don’t dwell.  Instead, divert to other details.
  3. Simply call it out

 

I encourage you to try each of these three strategies and see which one feels the most natural. Hopefully you’ll start to find it a bit easier to say something nice about yourself.

 

I’d love to hear how it goes! Please email me or join the conversation on social media, particularly on LinkedIn. 

 

And don’t forget that you can do what Amanda did and verbally ask me a communication skills Q.  Just go to talkabouttalk.com and “Click on Record your Q for Andrea.”

 

While you’re on the talkabouttalk.com website, I also hope you’ll sign up for the communication skills coaching newsletter. That way you’ll get communication coaching from me every week in a simple to digest email.  You’ll also get reminders for recently released podcast episodes.

 

That’s it for episode #115!

 

THANK YOU SO MUCH for LISTENING. Talk soon!

 

  • Email: Andrea@TalkAboutTalk.com

 

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