Women and Bragging: Is It Okay to Highlight Your Accomplishments? (Guest Post by Lori Robinett)

LoriTooting our Own Horns

by Lori Robinett (http://www.lorilrobinett.com)

Who is Lori? Lori is a writing friend of Margo’s, Sandwich Lady. She is here today to share her wisdom with us. Official bio: Lori lives in Callaway County, Missouri, with her husband and assorted critters. She is a creative soul trapped in a paralegal’s body. As a child, she wrote pages and pages in longhand. As a teenager, she pounded away on a typewriter. As a college student, she learned about criticism (death to English Comp!). As an adult, she found her hours filled with work and parenting. Then, she rediscovered the joy of escaping into a world of her own creation. After all, it’s not illegal to write all those twisted things that pop into your head!

The brilliant post!
It’s evaluation time at the day job, which always freaks me out a little. There’s a form that we’re each supposed to fill out and send to the Big Boss, and then we meet face to face with him and Next-to-the-Big Boss. The questions aren’t anything unusual: how do you feel you did this year? What projects did you work on? What were your accomplishments over the past year?

I put it off and put it off, until I could put it off no longer. As I stared at the blank monitor, it hit me. This is bragging. As women, we often just do. We don’t trumpet. We don’t announce. We just DO. Although I am the administrator and organizer of a huge software implementation project in our office, I don’t tell people about it. But here’s the thing: I should. My boss doesn’t know what is involved in monitoring and updating that system. He doesn’t know that before we installed the software, I had conference calls with several large law firms in California, New York and Canada to figure out the best way to implement the new program. He doesn’t know that I researched Java code in my spare time to make it work. It goes back to the lessons of childhood. My mother taught me that it was impolite to brag. So I don’t. Telling people about my accomplishments makes me very uncomfortable. Seriously. My face turns red and I get flustered. It’s embarrassing.

I discussed this with a good friend and with a couple of coworkers in the office. The Atlantic recently ran an article about the Confidence Gap that was revealing, in terms of how men and women view their accomplishments and present them. As we talked in the office, we all had something in common. We were raised not to brag. Is this a woman thing? A generational thing? I’m not sure. Regardless of the reason, here’s why we need to be aware of this issue. We need to learn to brag. No one else knows our accomplishments the way we do. When you have the opportunity to sit down for an evaluation with your boss, brag. Tell him all the good things you’ve accomplished. When you interview for a new job, brag. Tell her how hard you’ve worked, the clients you’ve impressed. Keep a kudos file where you can drop in thank you notes (even emails) people have sent you, and share that with the people who sign your paycheck.

denim and diamondsThis holds true in the writing arena, too. I have the same hesitation with my writing. If I tell folks about something I’ve done, it makes me uncomfortable and so I usually add a disclaimer like, “It’s no big deal.” My book, Denim & Diamonds, was released this month through CaryPress. When I first told people about it, I would often say something like, “I have a book coming out. It’s just a romance, not a big deal. And it’s just a small press.”

Whoa! Stop! If you catch yourself saying something like that, stop it! It IS a big deal. My book may not be a literary masterpiece that will win awards, but I’ve worked hard on it and a very small percentage of people who dream of writing a book will ever sign a contract with a press, big or small.

It is time for women to stop thinking in terms of propriety and humility (though a little of that is a good thing). Instead, when we achieve a goal, we need to own that goal. Share it with others. Pat yourself on the back. You did well.

P.S. Besides, you never know who you might inspire.

Denim & Diamonds, plot: Attorney Beth Jameson might know her way around the courtroom, but doesn’t know a cutting horse from a carousel horse. That doesn’t slow her down when her estranged father dies and leaves her his horse ranch south of Kansas City. True to form, the gift comes with strings attached – she has to be successful in her first year, or she loses her inheritance. She must convince Beau, the sexy ranch foreman, that she’s in it for the long haul. Beth can’t believe how quickly the ranch becomes home, and how hard she is willing to work to make it hers . . .

Denim & Diamonds is available on Amazon at Denim & Diamonds.

8 Comments

  • As females, we shut down our confidence at such an early age. Ack! It’s terrible. I remember clamming up when I was about 10 and I didn’t really open up again until I went to college. On The View last week, they mentioned that girls outperform boys academically across the board…until they hit puberty. Then girls dumb themselves down in order to impress the boys. Wouldn’t it be great if the girls just stayed smart and waited for a boy who wants to be with a smarty?

    • Oh, that would be wonderful! If only we could convince girls of that! (I did the same thing – I remember clamming up, not answering questions, even lying about my ACT score . . . ). Glad to hear you’ve opened up again. :)

      • Agree with both of you on this. I used to be made fun of for being smart–not really bullied, just with the label–well, she’s the smart girl. And I completely agree with the things you said here, Lori. It does seem like men can get away with more “bragging” than women.

  • Great post!!

  • For many of us, women especially, when we tell the world of our accomplishments, the label “arrogant” is scrawled on our backs like a target. The older I get, the more I wear that label as a bragging right rather than a scarlet “A.” It’s a process of working your butt off to become an expert at something then owning and wearing the crown of glory you’ve earned. Why work that hard and NOT wear it? Great post. Keep wearing your crown!

    • Oh, Janet, that is such a good way of looking at it! Love the scarlet “A” analogy. So true. There’s a difference between being branded as arrogant and working your butt off to be successful.

  • Lori: I wanted to ask you a question about your book, too. Is it going to be an ebook? Or is it an ebook somewhere? Thanks! :)

So, what do you think?