How to talk about your accomplishments without sounding like a jerk

Photo by  Japheth Mast  on  Unsplash

Photo by Japheth Mast on Unsplash


So you just got a promotion, or maybe you got a nice compliment from a passing stranger on your outfit, or maybe you won a free cruise. It’s human to want to tell people about the cool stuff that’s happened to you. It can amplify your excitement to share with someone who “gets it,” and it can help inspire and motivate others who hear about your successes. But nobody wants to seem like a jerk, and more importantly, you probably don’t want to make other people feel badly if they find themselves comparing their lives to this great thing that just happened to you. That’s why we’ve put together some tips for sharing the good stuff without making other people feel badly.

  • Don’t press other people’s “buttons.” Is your friend self-conscious about his body? Maybe don’t share your most recent bodybuilding accomplishments with him. Does your significant other hate their job? Then be gentle when telling them about your promotion. You want to share good news with people who will appreciate it, and your chances of that happening are greatest if you find someone who doesn’t have their own feelings getting in the way of being happy for you. So if you can, prioritize sharing your news with people whose emotional buttons you don’t think you’ll press. And if you really want to (or have to) share your good news with people who you think might not be able to be truly excited and happy for you, tread lightly and be prepared to look for a validating response from someone else if that’s what you’re hoping to get out of the interaction.
  • Pair it with something a little vulnerable to balance things out. When done inauthentically, this looks like a humblebrag. But if you can really connect to something that feels true and a little vulnerable for you, it helps put your success in a larger, realistic context. For example: “I was so nervous about my presentation today that I actually almost pretended I was sick to get out of it. But once I trucked through it, my boss told me it was my best one yet!” Or, “I’m really excited that Sarah and I have started dating. I know we’re in the honeymoon phase and this isn’t going to last forever, but I’m really liking where we are right now.” When you put things into a more realistic perspective, it can help quiet the little voice in people’s heads that is prone to saying, “Yeah, but…” when you share something positive about yourself.

  • Express genuine gratitude. A lot of people can sniff out a fake “thank you” a mile away. So be honest with yourself: who else made this possible? Even if it seems like you did something entirely yourself, chances are there are people who shaped your ability to pull things off. If you’re in a stellar relationship, you might have learned some stuff from previous partners and other people. If you got a raise, somebody probably taught you the skills that got you that recognition. So give credit where it’s due. If you can express gratitude authentically when you talk about your accomplishments, you not only come off as “not a jerk,” but you also get the positive mood boost that gratitude offers. And, of course, it’s just a good move ethically to give others credit when they have helped you in some way.

Living in a culture where so much value is place on accomplishments can make talking about them challenging and loaded. But hiding your successes can make you feel just as isolated as hiding your struggles. So when you can, try sharing a little more of your successes with people who are in a good position to help you celebrate them. You might find yourself feeling more supported than you expect.