At my most recent National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) meeting, the attendees were asked to introduce themselves. Normally, introductions include your name, your place of employment and your title within the organization if you have one. After introductions were made, the president of the chapter put two members on the spot for not sharing what she deemed as pertinent information – they had each recently won an Emmy Award.
In the world of journalism and media, receiving such an award is a huge accomplishment, so we were all excited for our colleagues. I instantly wondered why they seemed shy about sharing the great news.
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Although our NABJ meetings are considered a safe space and filled with encouraging, candid conversations, I realized sharing such information while stating your name and affiliation could have been awkward and been seen as self-serving. But shouldn’t there be opportunities for someone to share the hard work they’ve done without being judged for it?
Interestingly enough, research shows that there is heightened brain activity when a person talks about him or herself. Harvard neuroscientist Diana I. Tamir, co-author of the 2012 published research paper, Disclosing Information About the Self Is Intrinsically Rewarding, mentioned how one experiment showed that people were willing to give up small amounts of money to divulge information about themselves rather than talk about another person.
“I think there is a natural human tendency” to talk about oneself, Tamir said to the New York Times. “The interesting question is why we are motivated to share.”
A proud person might want to expose their personal or professional accomplishments, along with any struggles that they might have had, in the hopes of encouraging others, as well as to provide updates on a specific goal in which they’ve elicited support. For example, if a person has asked for prayers while rigorously studying for the bar, then finds out that he or she has passed, an update is warranted as I’m sure people rooting for them are looking forward to a positive outcome.
Additionally, since entrepreneurs usually rely on clients to generate income, sharing small and big “wins” is essential to increasing clientele. Communication consultant Peggy Klaus told Business Insider that professionals have a greater chance of being remembered if they talk about their accomplishments. “So ingrained are the myths about self-promotion, so repelled are we by obnoxious braggers, many people simply avoid talking about themselves,” she said. But one of my mentors told me to always let people know what you’re doing since “You never know who can help you.”
On the other hand, posting a picture of a new Louis Vuitton bag that you’ve obtained or telling people that you hung out with a celebrity last night can come off obnoxious and be seen as bragging. For people who don’t want to appear as braggarts, but still really want to create the atmosphere of envy, they use the humble brag approach. The tactic is just as annoying and includes exactly what the person wants you to know but often contains a behind-the-scenes struggle to get people inspired, rather than irritated, about the results. Since most of this news is shared on social media, this unfortunately means that it is interpreted by hundreds of followers or “friends” who likely don’t really know you personally. Thus, your audience has a greater chance of misinterpreting what you share.
But according to former Clinton White House writer John Corcoran, there are ways to share accomplishments without bragging. A few of them include exhibiting gratefulness for your success, avoiding the humble brag, not downplaying your achievements and using humor.
Honestly, we all know people who constantly brag, in person or on social media, and we’ve accepted them for who they are. Others may get a pass, because we can accept their news as just simply sharing. When it comes to disclosing your good news, just make sure that it comes from an honest place and it’s not intended to make others feel as though they aren’t on your level.
Although I’m not big on sharing my business, I would never tell someone not to share any information (unless it’s a bit too personal) they deem important. I’m a firm believer in informing people of your testimony and journey, as you never know who can become encouraged or blessed by your words. While updating people on your personal successes or your career victories, just keep in mind to share it in a way that highlights your success without making people feel like they are failing.