Episode #22: How to Gracefully Humblebrag

December 17, 2019

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Episode #22: How to Gracefully Humblebrag
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Episode #22: How to Gracefully Humblebrag

You know you’ve been killing it at work. You’ve upped your game. You’re making strides towards smashing your professional goals.

The results must speak for themselves, right?

Not necessarily. Your stellar may be noticed by the right people, or they may not be noticed at all.

You can’t trust that the right people are connecting the dots on your behalf. People are busy—even the most well-meaning bosses don’t have telepathy.

It’s up to you to ensure that your successes are known by the right people!

You need to be your own advocate and start mastering the art of self-promotion.

If the idea of self-promotion makes you feel uncomfortable, it’s time to get over it. Stop waiting and hoping that others are going to notice how awesome you are. You will need to make it happen for yourself.

Self-promotion can be done in a way that feels genuine and ensures that you are on the radar screens of influential people at your company.

Here’s how to gracefully humblebrag.

First things first, know that tone is important.

The graceful humblebrag must come from a truly humble place. A sure-fire way to ensure that your tone is on point is to position your contribution in the context of the business or the team. Share your news from a “we” point of view, as opposed to “I.”

There are three simple methods to incorporate graceful humblebrags into your workday.

Share successes with an “FYI Email.”

This is one of my preferred methods to humblebrag because it’s so easy to execute.

Suppose you just solved a team problem or accomplished a large action item. It may be tempting to victory dance with a reply to all, adding your boss to the CC line.

But, victory dancing is not really humble in approach, is it? It’s also easy to lose control of an email chain full of recipients.

Instead, take the email that shows your win and forward it to your boss with context, as an “FYI”.

For example, if you received a lovely note from a client expressing gratitude, forward it to your boss with a note that says something like, “FYI, wanted to share the below client note. I’m proud of the way the team delivered on this project!”

Another way to use this humblebrag is when you want your boss to be aware of some badass accomplishment but have no specific follow-up request.

Take an email that shows the latest status and forward with a note stating, “FYI, no action required.” Add a simple statement that gives context, such as, “Keeping you in the loop on this project—we made great progress this week!”

That’s it. It’s as simple as making them aware of your contribution.

Use drive-by office visits for brief updates.

Humblebrags are also delivered well in person. The drive-by “heads up” office visit is a go-to move in my self-promotion arsenal.

It’s simple. Swing by your boss’s office and state the problem and how you solved it. Make it clear that you’ve handled it, but you wanted to inform them “in case it comes up.”

Bosses love to be up-to-date, especially if they don’t have to be the one to clean up the mess. If you made their life more convenient by helping a small crisis be averted, be sure to bring it to their attention.

For the office drive-by, remember to use common sense. Look for a time when they look receptive to interruption.

Utilize formal status updates for larger initiatives.

You should put more effort into sharing your larger-scale accomplishments. Be sure to keep your boss abreast of your big wins.

If you are working on a large-scale initiative that will take time, use official channels to share your progress and document the journey. For instance, is there a status report you can share with your manager or other key stakeholders? If not, consider starting one.

Pick a format that will make it easy for your boss to digest. Think executive summary, not wall of bullet points.

Once you begin, you will need to deliver this report consistently. If you miss a weekly update because you’re bogged down with work, it’s going to look like you’re not in control of the project. As a general rule, people will assume the worst in the absence of information. Keep this in mind when determining the frequency of your regular updates.

Remember to share the output of these larger-scale wins. When the report is complete, share a copy. When the work is finished, be sure they see it. If you can share it electronically, do it—that way your boss can forward it to other stakeholders, like their boss or other company leaders.

One final bit of parting advice on the graceful humblebrag: use it wisely.

Your boss doesn’t need to be apprised of everything you’ve done or solved. That’s your job. It’s why they hired you.

You know when you made a special contribution or impact. Don’t be timid about bringing those everyday victories to their attention.

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