What’s The Difference Between Sharing and Bragging?

Dear 40-something,

I am 22, and have found that now, more than ever, everyone I meet just wants me to tell me about how special they are–how much they’ve achieved, how demanding their daily schedule is, how their field of work requires such a unique and innovative type of person, how they have the perfect guys/girls pursuing them etc. I understand that people are proud of the good things going on in their lives, but it gets exhausting listening to people rattle off all their successes and it has made me reflect on the way I present my accomplishments. I don’t want to resort to this kind of exhaustive bragging, but I want to let my friends know that I’ve had some successes lately as well. How do I respectfully share my successes and good news with others? – 20-something

Great question.  In today’s world of social media it’s easier than ever to compare yourself to others.  And to see others successes as your failures. But as some 40-somethings have shared here, it’s important to remember for everyone who is getting a bigger raise or promotion or ring than you, there is someone who is doing worse off than you. It’s important to take stock of your own place in the world and not think of it all as linear. It’s not a race. In a country where we value independence and individuality so much why do we all want to follow a certain path.

Take back you. When you do that your successes will not come across as bragging but rather as an expression of you. Always tie your successes back to what it means to you as well as to the other person or entity. For example, talk about what you’re excited about learning in a new position at work if you are talking to a friend or family. Of how you’re now going to be able to contribute the company in a more meaningful way if it is a colleague or superior.

Think about your motivations. If it is something you are excited about, true friends will likely be happy for you if you present it in an interesting way. Professionally, sharing success is essential. Some women tend to be modest about their achievements at work thinking their work will speak for itself. This is one area where it’s important to speak up. The same advice applies…just tie it back to the bottom line or goals of the organization to make it less about “bragging.”  Be your own advocate!

Now here is what some other 40-somethings have to say — some great perspectives. As they point out, there are times your achievements are best left to speak for themselves.- CV


Dear 20-something,

You’ve learned a valuable lesson that listening to other people brag is really boring. It will get worse when they have kids and talk ad nauseum about their children’s accomplishments. You don’t need to find a way to talk about your achievements, as you’ve learned first-hand it’s not interesting. Instead try to tactfully shift the conversation to more interesting topics: where did you get those shoes, who do you think is going to win the election, etc. And then try to find some more interesting friends. – 40-something, advertising executive, NYC


Dear 20-something,

Maybe you can think of this a little differently. When you share something great with another person…it can raise the energy of both people.  If you treat other people’s successes like a miracle maybe they will treat yours as miracles too. Try to receive other’s successes gratefully and let their happiness bring you energy. Then when you share your successes think about it as something you are grateful for…then you won’t be seen as bragging and it can raise the energy of both parties. – 40-something, wellness coach, NYC


Dear 20-something,

The answer lies all in how you tell your story and timing timing timing. You don’t want to talk about how great your relationship is going right when a friend had her heart broken. If you are bursting at the seams to tell someone, see if you can find someone else and hold off for a while with the friend going through a hard time. You eventually will want to tell her or him if they are a good friend but then it’s more important than ever to listen to them and take cues from their reaction.

For work, you do want to talk about your successes on a regular basis so you don’t seem like you are buttering your boss up right before raise time.

For anytime, make it a dialogue not a monologue about how great you are. Before sharing ask yourself how you would like to be told this story from a friend. Then just be you.  – 40-something, marketing, Columbus, OH

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