Stop Humblebragging and Do This Instead


“I was working late again last night.  I wish I could stop being such a perfectionist.” 

“I’m exhausted from the Diamond Club sales incentive trip I just went on with Jack Rowland.  I believe he’s a connection of yours on LinkedIn?”

“My boss gave me yet another project.  I wish things would go to other employees sometimes.  If only I wasn’t so capable!”

Insert eye roll.  It’s the humble brag. Or, it’s the humblebrag, name drop combination.  It’s when someone draws attention to something they are proud of while trying to appear modest at the same time.  Many of us do it, but humblebragging is more obvious and annoying to others than we realize. Instead of humblebragging, here’s how to self-promote while complimenting others. 

Why People Humblebrag

In today’s digital landscape, we make posts to highlight our greatest achievements, both personally and professionally.  Whether it’s a picture with the family at the Grand Canyon on Facebook or a post about an award on LinkedIn, self-promotion is a way of telling the world you are an interesting person, you are successful, or you’d make a great hire.  People want to elicit positive feedback and validation from peers.  But, whether it is in person or on social media, humblebragging can damage relationships.

How Humblebragging Comes Across

Humble braggers come across as insincere namedroppers.  They tell stories about themselves as if they are superheroes saving the day.  Psychotherapist and author of “13 Things Mentally Strong People Do,” Amy Morin, says that humblebragging is a common workplace habit that comes across as “insincere and insecure” (Fox Business). While people are trying to present themselves modestly, research shows that sincerity is actually the best option.  Assistant Professor Ovul Sezer of UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School conducted a series of experiments on humblebragging and its perception.  Of 646 people surveyed, 70% could recall a humblebrag they’d heard recently. Humblebragging is not only something people notice, but it also makes people like you “less than straight-up self-promotion,” according to research from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (  In fact, research shows that when given the choice to brag or humblebrag, it’s better to straight-up brag (Forbes).

Humblebragging and Interviewing

You may think that there is no way to avoid humblebragging when asked about your biggest weakness in an interview question.  When researchers looked at the ways individuals answered this question, results showed that 77% of participants chose to humblebrag over disclose a weakness. And, hiring managers were more interested in hiring those with honest answers over the humblebraggers (Forbes).   

How to Self-Promote without Humblebragging  

The best way to present yourself is through honest communications about achievements.  Be aware of how you are coming across to the people you interact with.  If you want to share a positive achievement, do so sparingly and focus on the achievement itself.  

Research shows that expressing gratitude and acknowledging the contributions of others on your team is an excellent way to show your own strengths.  In fact, the American Psychological Association and Harvard Business Review coined a strategy called “dual promotion” where you boast about your own accomplishments while complimenting someone else at the same time.  It leaves audiences understanding your own abilities and shows a concern for others.  Here’s an example from Harvard Business Review: “I took care of all of the financial analysis, technical processes, and back-end design.  Alex really impressed me with how he handled our client communications.  We both took charge of what we do best, and it led to a great outcome.” 

Artemis Consultants knows that the way individuals present themselves can significantly impact their career.  Please reach out to one of our consultants to learn about our proven track record of successful job placements. 

To read more career tips for young professionals, please click here.      

-Written exclusively for Artemis Consultants by Business Content Writer Mellody Melville.

Newsletter Signup

Recent Articles