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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

3 Ways to Toot Your Own Horn (Without Being Obnoxious)

Ask just about anyone what personality trait grates his or her nerves the most, and a braggart is bound to top the list. So, it makes sense that most of us are loathe to toot our own horns, for fear of coming across as obnoxious. Especially in the office.

This obviously makes standing out in the workplace a bit of a challenge. But, given that promotions aren’t exactly being doled out by the truckload these days, we all need to find ways to highlight our own talents.

With that in mind, here are a few things to keep in mind that’ll help you impress your boss with your stellar skills without coming across like an egomaniac.

No Splashing in the Shallow End

When you’re first starting a new job, or even a new role, it’s important not to make a big entrance right off the bat. For example, if you want to show off your Excel wizardry, simply declaring you’re the best in the land isn’t going to impress anyone.

Instead, start small and subtle. Craft your best spreadsheet possible for whatever project you’re working on, and ask your boss to take a look with you to make sure you’re on the right track. As your boss is reviewing your work, it will quickly become apparent you’ve got some talent in the spreadsheet department.

This is easily my favorite form of self-promotion, as it doesn’t require you to actually brag at all, and it allows your manager (or whomever you’re trying to impress) the opportunity to share her expertise with you as well. And who knows, you just might learn something new, too.

Pay it Forward

Put yourself in the position of your manager, and imagine how difficult it might be to acknowledge every little achievement each individual on her team makes on a daily basis—it’s no easy task! This doesn’t mean your manager can’t or won’t recognize your talents, it just means you may have to help open her eyes to the great job you’re doing.

I’ve learned that sometimes, you have to give a little to get something in return. So, try acknowledging something you’ve learned from your boss. When your manager realizes she’s actually providing guidance to her team, chances are she’ll be much more observant of your skills, and in my experience, a lot more generous with the atta-girls.

As a manager myself, I’ve always been impressed when employees come to me and mention how I had helped them look at a problem in a different way, which ultimately led them to finding a solution. And I’ve then made an extra effort to make sure they know I’ve noticed when they’ve exceeded my expectations.

Of course, if you’re thinking of paying it forward, don’t forget it must be genuine—anything too random will come across as insincere, and could easily brand you as a brownnoser. Be patient, and wait for a situation where your manager has truly coached you well. Then let her know it.

Confidence is Key

Somewhere along the line, many of us were taught it was impolite—even obnoxious—to talk about our talents, and instead were instilled with the idea that humility trumps confidence. While this may be true to some extent, it’s important to note that a healthy dose of confidence is an important foundation to success in both your personal and professional lives.

The key, of course, is not just having the confidence, but knowing how to use it wisely. This isn’t the easiest skill to master, however, I’ve found one simple maxim that really helps keep my confidence from boiling over into ego: Show, don’t tell. You’ve probably heard this saying since you were a kid, and it’s a great reminder whenever you’re tempted to tell someone how great you are (because obviously, you’re pretty great!). Instead of telling someone, find ways to show them instead—do your best work, kill it at that presentation, and graciously accept compliments for a job well done.

Finding the right balance is definitely more art than science, but with a little practice, and a lot of patience, you’ll find having a healthy amount of confidence in your own abilities will soon grab the attention of those around you as well. No obnoxious boasting required!

Photo of woman and boss courtesy of Shutterstock.