Everyone has that one friend or colleague who’s doing really well in life… and constantly tells you about it.
Whether it’s posting a ton of photographs from their seemingly never-ending vacations, or sharing articles about how much money their company is generating, these braggy types can get on your nerves.
But you know what’s even worse?
The humble brag.
This is the art of bragging in a “modest and self-deprecating way,” according to the official definition.
Put simply, people who commit this offense make a seemingly humble statement about an accomplishment they’re really proud of. But make no mistake about it, they are boasting about themselves and just trying to pass it off as modesty as if we can’t see through their real intentions.
Here are two great examples of the humble brag at its finest from Kim Kardashian West and Donald Trump:
In the first tweet, Kim clearly boasts a #sorrynotsorry statement by announcing that her app broke the App Store. She covers this in a humble brag apology that addresses Apple directly. How sweet.
Never to be outdone, Trump mentions that he’s “sad” about what happened at the Miss Universe pageant, but really what he’s doing in this tweet is humbly bragging about how much money he made selling the pageant and the fact that times were better under his reign.
These humble brags are not subtle in any way and do more harm than good.
See, these statements aren’t just limited to loudmouth celebrities and social media only. In fact, More and more businesses are using the humble brag during their storytelling—and it’s driving everyone nuts!
Readers can see right through this inauthenticity and you can bet it’s turning off more than a few potential customers. This is something that needs to stop now.
Where do humble brags hide?
From experience, I find humble brags hiding in places like bios and intros all the time, which is the exact opposite of what you want.
See, these key areas are usually where your potential customer goes first. This means that their first impression of you and your brand might not be as favorable as it should be.
So if you’re starting out your relationship with a string of humble brags, imagine the impression you’re leaving.
Sure, it’s ok to mention your accomplishments when you write your bio and intro, but it’s how you do so that matters. Don’t worry, we’ll talk more about this later on.
I’ve also seen humble brags weaved in throughout a brand’s storytelling. As clever as some brands think they’re being, this still gets noticed for all the wrong reasons and it’s not taken lightly by your potential customers.
People don’t like humblebraggers, and science proves this.
One Harvard Study Showed People Dislike Humblebraggers
In a series of experiments, a Harvard Business Professor and her doctoral student set out to uncover people’s true feelings about humble braggers.
Here’s what they found:
- Not only were people associated with a humble brag liked less than someone seen as bragging, but they were viewed as less sincere and less attractive
- In a choice between someone humble bragging, bragging or complaining, people were more inclined, in order of preference, to like the complainer, the bragger and then the humble bragger
- On social media sites like Twitter, humble bragging was negatively associated with being liked and being perceived as competent. Self-promotion turns into self-demotion with the humble brag
Now, I’m not suggesting that you switch to complaining or bragging, rather I wanted to give you proof that you’ll be seen in a worse light than these two really bad traits if you choose to humbly brag. Moral of the story: No one wants to hear it.
Instead, follow these tips to never commit the humble brag again.
Humble Brag Alternatives:
1. Be Authentic
If you think I want you to hide all of your accomplishments, think again!
You should be proud of what you’ve managed to tackle during your personal and professional journey. It’s perfectly okay to show off these feats and milestones.
But it’s all about how you do so that resonates with customers.
If you do so in a positive, happy, and authentic way, your customers will be excited to celebrate your hard work and share the good news with you.
Here’s an example of what that looks like:
“After four years of running an online store, we’re beyond excited to announce that we’ll be opening up our first brick and mortar store on June 27th, 2017! While we’re completely bald from tearing our hair out the past few months, we couldn’t be more thrilled to share this great news with you. Thank you for believing in us and staying with us during this amazing ride!”
In this positive example, this company mentioned how long it’s taken them to get to this point, added some humor, and thanked the people who helped them along the way: their customers.
This is a perfect example of how to be authentic while simultaneously showing off your accomplishments.
2. Create a Story Around the Accomplishment
One of the reasons this example works so well is because it offers a glimpse of the story behind the accomplishment. The company started as an online store, the employees worked their tails off and now they’re opening new ventures thanks to their loyal fanbase.
It’s these kinds of stories that will really resonate with your potential customers. When done correctly, the story can be so relatable to potential customers that they’ll feel like they’re actually part of the journey right alongside you.
So anytime you want to show off your hard work (please don’t be afraid to!), sit down and create a story about how you got to this point. Don’t skimp on the relatable details (you know, how it wasn’t easy, it took a lot of blood/sweat/tears, and all that good stuff).
People want to see that you didn’t just get handed this accomplishment and that you worked really hard to get here. That’s what resonates with them.
3. Practice Gratitude
Think of this like your time to thank the little people in your pseudo Academy Award or MVP award speech.
Of course your accomplishment took a lot of hard work to achieve on your part, your customers can already see that. What they need to see is your acknowledgement that you couldn’t have succeeded on your own without the generous help you received from your customers or employees.
Whether you had a team of support or you relied on a specific course or coach to get you to this point, be sure to mention how incredibly grateful you are anytime you show off your milestones.
You can also thank your customers for their support like in the example.
The takeaway is, no man is an island. You got to this point thanks to the help of someone or something and you should show your gratitude for their help whenever you can.
This is what shifts you from humble bragging to sharing genuine, good news that conveys how proud and grateful you are for what’s been accomplished. I promise, your customers will love this version so much more.
Now that you know why you should keep your brand far away from the humble brag, go ahead and create a genuine, relatable narrative based on your journey up to this point. Make sure you add a touch of gratitude in your writing and acknowledge that you wouldn’t have made it this far on your own.
When you share this story across your brand’s website, social media channels, email newsletters, etc., it will really resonate well with your customers and leave a lasting, positive impression on them.
So go ahead and show off those accomplishments! Just do so in a positive way.