Overcoming the Fear: She Brags Too Much
“But I don’t want them to think I’m bragging.” I hear this a LOT as a negotiation coach for women.
In this episode, I share concrete tips for overcoming the fear of judgment that holds us back from speaking up, advocating for our value and confidently negotiating for what we want.
Here's a question I often ask my clients who are challenged with advocating for their value, with negotiating at work, and with stepping up and speaking out for what they want.
That question is, "What will you do if you weren't afraid of what other people think?"
This is in response to the fear that says, "They will think I'm bragging, that I'm being too aggressive by promoting myself."
This, my friends, is a battle of identity.
Identity is a vulnerable thing. It changes constantly, who you are, how you see yourself, how you frame your identity, how you express that identity. It changes every day, sometimes by moment. And I think that's a beautiful thing.
It's a battle of identity because if you are giving into that fear, "What will people think?" you're listening to the Itty Bitty Shouldy Committee (discussed in episode three). It's the voice that tells you to stay quiet, stay small, and stay safe.
It says, "Don't take that risk."
It asks, "Who do you think you are?"
It warns, "People will judge you. Don't take that risk. Don't grow. Don't thrive."
We sometimes mistake this voice as our identity. We think this is us. The danger here is that we become victims of our story.
I remember vividly how when I worked as a manager, I would always blame other people. My life was miserable because of my manager. My life was miserable because things were unjust.
The questions in my head were, "When will they fix this? When will things get better? When will the other shoe drop? Why does this always happen to me?" All questions of victimhood.
The trap is in mistaking our identity with the story whispered in our heads by the Itty Bitty Shouldy Committee, and this happens subconsciously. It gets comfortable thinking like this. It gets comfortable and familiar being in the place of victimhood, anger, shame and blame.
It's kind of like having an old pair of jeans that you absolutely love but you've been wearing them for years and years. They're long past their expiration date, but you keep wearing them because you're a creature of habit and they're so comfortable.
To step into a new pair of jeans, to go out there and to buy a new pair of jeans is...oh my gosh, so much hassle, right?
It's kind of like stepping into a new identity. I'm speaking as someone who has a tendency to wear jeans long past their expiration date, so for me, stepping into a new pair of jeans can feel like..."Ugh, do I have to?"
I hear that reluctance in the voices of my clients who think, "Oh, I can't advocate for myself. I can't brag. It's not nice. It's not ladylike."
Why not you?
Why not you in those fancy, trendy, stylish pair of jeans that's going to make you look good AND feel good about yourself?
Yes, it's a risk to promote yourself.
Yes, it's a hassle to step out into the world in a new identity.
The new identity as someone who is bold, who is brave, who does step up, who does speak out, who cares a little less about what other people think, who cares a little more about making her dream a reality, about making her future self happy, and about investing in the growth of her career.
It's not unlike stepping into a new pair of jeans and feeling a little vulnerable, wondering, "What will people think?"
So to combat this, I have three concrete tips for you.
1. Try self-promotion with a small group of supportive friends.
In the lady network called Get Bullish (Bullish women are ambitious feminists) founded by Jen Dziura, she promotes the culture of bragging.
She's encouraging women to grow our bragging muscles, so we can own our success and not be ashamed sharing with the world what we have accomplished. We should be proud, and we should be telling people, so that people do know our value and pay us accordingly.
Find your own network if you're not part of the Bullish Network. And give each other permission to brag shamelessly.
It's like showing off your new jeans to a small group of friends before stepping out for a big party.
2. Let people know that you're trying this out.
To be more specific, you can say, "I'm trying this new thing, where I'm more forthcoming about my accomplishments. What I have accomplished are...X, Y and Z."
In other words, open with vulnerability.
3. Be compassionate with yourself.
The old jeans or the old identity served you well so far, but it's time to step into the new you.
Don't be afraid of letting go of old, comfortable habits. Be brave and speak up. It's a bit like stepping into new jeans, because it's about exploring a new you. You are always growing into a new you, a version of you that thrives.