The Subtle Art of Bragging

“That Guy’s Arrogant,” But You’re Just Clever

Shying away from the spotlight will never get you further in your career, however there is a subtle art to it that “The Mooch” didn’t seem to understand.

“How to lose a guy in 10 days” is no longer just a romantic comedy from 2003, it’s also the reality for Anthony Scaramucci from the US White House. After only 10 days in his role as Communications Director, “The Mooch” was asked to resign. The reasons for this are at this moment speculative, but you can be sure it had to do with his strange and particular brand of bragging. In a now famous and ubiquitous conversation he had with Ryan Lizza, of The New Yorker, The Mooch bragged about his competence over that of other key players in the White House. Of course, it is important to let your contributions shine, however there is a way to brag that is beneficial for all. It doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game.

A Fine Line Between Braggy and Charismatic

It’s difficult to discern between a charismatic executive, and a narcissistic opportunist. There are plenty of braggarts without any real qualifications in most organizations – they gladly flaunt unearned accomplishments and present themselves as experts on topics they know nothing about, they refuse to discuss anything but their own accomplishments, and leave the real work to others. They become the center of every meeting, they all have something to say, and interject with exaggerated buzzwords, seemingly without end. They’re the guys you quickly write off, telling your friends, “That guy’s an arrogant ass.” Don’t be that guy. Be better.

Positive Effects on Team Spirit and Authenticity

If you learn how to control your charisma, you can charm instead of offending! Trustworthy and charismatic executives earn points not only with their demeanor, character, and healthy self-confidence, but also with a positive exuberance and enthusiasm. Get noticed and enhance your magneticism by effusing traits like competency, strong values, morality and accountability. Successfully charismatic professionals come across as trustworthy and authentic, they set realistic goals for themselves, motivate their colleagues, and serve as positive role models.

How can I be seen as clever without being arrogant?

Speak about your own success and be confident in your performance, advises career expert Dr. Bernd Slaghuis. From his experience as a Career and Business Coach, Slaghuis knows the most important Do’s and Don’ts for the clever show-off:

4 Ways to “Mooch it up”

  • Avoid comparing yourself directly with your colleagues or your boss. No one wants to hear how fantastic you are, especially if you’re taking shots at others in the process.
  • Resist the urge to harp on every minor accomplishment. It’s extremely frustrating to those around you, to be subjected to frequent soliloquys about your golden years in the early aughts.
  • Don’t be self-righteous or arrogant, but stay relatable and friendly with your boss and colleagues. Consider their roles in your own success, and be mindful and grateful of their contributions.
  • As they say in Germany, “the tone makes the music!” Pay special attention to your tone and inflections when addressing your colleagues. Don’t act aggressively, or humiliate one co-worker at the expense of another, especially not if it’s solely to make yourself look better. Praising yourself like this is shameful!

4 Things Smart Show-offs Do

  • Foster transparency: If it’s important to you that your boss and colleagues take notice of your performance and value, then tell them so. Showcase your contributions in a team meeting, or talk to your supervisor and ask for feedback. But be aware that feedback can often come in a negative form – be prepared to accept it, and to work on improving these weaknesses.
  • Stay professional: Don’t play with the feelings of others. Stay objective and explain what you’ve successfully accomplished. Justifications make you seem weak.
  • Value your team: Even if you’re responsible for a great deal of your company’s success, you’re still working within a team. Show your colleagues and your boss that you appreciate the work and cooperation of your teammates.
  • Small doses: A strong presence is most effective when used sparingly. People stop listening to those who rant and rave about their own accomplishments for 8 hours a day.

Knowing how to present yourself is the key to success in the executive sphere. Avoid thrusting yourself in the spotlight, exaggerating your own successes, and speaking ill of others.  Be appreciative of the contributions of your colleagues, and impress the competition with your competence and authenticity – then no one will think twice when your accomplishments come up. If only The Mooch had had time in his short run to read this article, perhaps he would have met with a better fate…

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