How to Toot Your Own Horn at Work (Without Being Annoying)

Most of us hate the idea of bragging about our achievements, and we all know someone who’s too eager to shove their success in our faces. But on the other side of the spectrum, being too humble can cost you the job, the promotion, or the pay raise. It’s a tough balancing act, but if you want the recognition you deserve, tooting your horn is a valuable skill to have in your back pocket. Here are a few ways to get a little subtle PR going, without taking it too far.

1. Know what to share.

Just as you should be updating your resume, you should also have a running list of things you accomplish with your team at work. Often we believe we’re “just doing our job” but the results you achieve while you’re going your job are worthy of being shared, so don’t hesitate to share those wins.

2. Become a storyteller.

Everyone loves a story.  Once you have your list of accomplishments, be prepared to tell it. For example, instead of saying “I decreased turnover by 20%,” explain the problem, the obstacles you faced, your choices, your course corrections, and your outcome. And the next time someone asks for an update, tell them your story so far: the situation, the challenges, the plan of attack. Good storytelling makes it much easier to share your results, so take advantage of every opportunity.

3. Give updates.

We aren’t often invited to share our stories, and we don’t always volunteer them—but this is something you should change. Sometimes, we believe we don’t need to share updates because others don’t want to be bothered or your team must know already. But the reality is that your senior management may have no idea what challenges you’re overcoming, and often like to be kept in the loop.

4. Talk about your team.

To share accomplishments without appearing arrogant, talk about the team you’re working with, whether this is a team you head or a team of colleagues. Your audience will make the logical leap to see your contributions, allowing you to sing your own praises without coming across in a negative way. And your team will love to have their own horn tooted!

5. Get others to toot your horn.

Create reasons for others to brag about you without prompting. This isn’t quite as easy as the steps above, but it’s very effective. To make it happen, be active in helping others, whether on your team or not, on a regular basis. Your kindness, support, and advice make others more willing to vouch for you, giving you credit for your contributions in their work.

If your aim is to move up in any organization or team, you’ll have to learn to share your merits—or else you run the risk of allowing your career to stagnate. And while you may feel uneasy about shouting your own praises, these steps are a great way to comfortably (and inoffensively) toot your own horn. 

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