“What is your biggest weakness?”

A popular job interview question, recruiters love asking this because they want to gauge how self-aware potential employees are. Many candidates make the mistake of disguising a strength as a weakness. For instance, “I work too hard”. This strategy is popularly known as humblebragging.

Sharing our accomplishments in self-critical ways has become popular over time. Social media has played a key role in the ways people resort to humblebragging. Read on to understand what the concept means and why it’s not a good idea to be a humblebrag.

  1. What Is Humblebragging?

  2. Why Is Humblebragging Bad For You?

  3. How To Avoid Humblebragging At Work

What Is Humblebragging?

Self-presentation is a crucial aspect of social life—whether you’re in the presence of your friends or coworkers. You’re able to create the desired impression on others because of the ways you can present yourself. Humblebragging is one such self-presentation strategy that refers to bragging in disguise. Examples of humblebrag include using complaints or humility to promote themselves and amplify their public reputation.

The humblebragging psychology is rooted in the need for feeling valued and important. We want to share our accomplishments with others and want to be celebrated. Such an indirect way of self-presentation not only elicits sympathy but also favorably impresses others. Let’s look at a few examples of humblebrag to understand it better.

  • “I hate being the only person with an iPhone here; people are always looking at me weirdly!”

  • “I aced the test only because the others performed so poorly! I never went prepared, it was sheer luck.”

  • “It was the most tiring vacation ever! We went to every tourist spot and there was so much to explore! I’m exhausted despite the occasional spa.”

Why Is Humblebragging Bad For You?

Humblebragging runs rampant on social media. Several celebrities and influencers resort to this self-presentation strategy where they downplay their lives and try to minimize big news. In the real world, humblebragging is a tricky business and it can land you in trouble. Studies suggest that people perceive a humblebrag as someone insincere.

In the workplace, being a humblebrag can create false impressions and affect your interpersonal relationships. Consider this example that explores the meaning of humblebrag in professional settings.

Your manager is out of town and they’ve asked you to attend a client meeting that they were supposed to attend in the first place. You get invited for a lunch meeting at a fancy restaurant. You tell your coworkers, “Why did my manager ask me to cover for them? It’s such a fancy place and I don’t have the right outfit! I need to go shop.”

While it’s a good idea to talk about the client-meeting opportunity, complaining about it isn’t always the best strategy. It’s likely to make people feel uncomfortable as you build yourself up and bring yourself down in the same conversation. 

How To Avoid Humblebragging At Work

It’s normal to want to feel valued at work and make yourself heard. However, there are healthy ways to share good news and avoid being a humblebrag at work.

  1. Know Your Audience

Nobody likes self-indulgent narratives. Always be aware of the kinds of people you’re dealing with. Some may find your humblebragging to be emotionally disturbing, which you wouldn’t want. If the conversation makes someone uncomfortable, it’s best to change your tone and end the conversation quickly.

  1. Learn When To Be Discreet

You have every right to be happy and vocal about the good things in your life but the way you communicate them is crucial. Pay attention to your tone, body language and the words you use to describe your situation. Approach your topic with sincerity and tact. For example, say “thank you for the award” instead of “that prize is so big that it won’t fit my desk!”.

  1. Try The Honest Way

People are more likely to relate to you when you sound genuine and sincere. If you’re going to pat your back, be honest about it. Instead of qualifying your news or underplaying it, be upfront about your achievement. However, this doesn’t mean that you become extremely vocal about every single detail. Keep it short, clear and honest!

If you want to speak about your achievements with authenticity, you need to learn how to communicate clearly and compellingly. Harappa’s Speaking Effectively course will help you deliver ideas with precision, use empathy and logic to connect with others, and stand out as an effective speaker everyone wants to listen to. Build credibility and be persuasive with Aristotle’s Appeals framework. Impress everyone with your stories and celebrate your success with peers and coworkers without putting them off!


Explore topics such as What is CommunicationBusiness CommunicationTypes of CommunicationChannels of Communication & Ways to Improve Team Communication from Harappa Diaries and learn to effectively perceive, respond and interact with others.

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