Showing Off? or Showing Up?

When was the last time you sang your own praises? Or at the very least felt comfortable saying “This is what I do and I do it really well”

If you’re British I expect it was a while ago… if, let’s face it, ever!

When was the last time you accepted someone else’s praises of you, without qualifying or diminishing whatever it was they were praising you for?

There is a trait I’ve noticed in the training room at the end of an exercise when I ask the attendee “What did you do well there?” the most common immediate response is along the lines of:

“I didn’t do ‘x’ ” or “I don’t think I ‘y'”

Then they would go in to a long list of all the things they felt they missed, or didn’t do, or did badly … if I let them!

The question I ask is ignored … at the very best I get an “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure”.

As a trainer I wonder if this is to do with a culture of blame and of looking for what hasn’t been done, what is missing from our work, or “that’s done – what’s next?”; rather than one of appreciation for what is done well every day.



As a vocal confidence specialist I wonder how much this has to do with a culture of being seen and not heard, of stoic acceptance of a ‘norm’ and not “showing off” because,well, really, it’s a bit vulgar to speak well of yourself and you should be humble when others do it for you, and ‘I’d rather be a bit of a shrinking violet than be seen as an arrogant ar*e’!

A lot of people’s fears about speaking up or speaking out come as a result of beliefs that we carry around from childhood, ones which may stem from places of sense but transfer later in life.


“Don’t show off”(because others might get jealous or might not have as much as you) somewhere along the line might become “Don’t be proud of, or talk about my achievements or what I do well”

“Be quiet”(because the grown ups are talking) becomes “No point sharing my thoughts or opinions – no-one wants to hear them.”

Is it really showing off to acknowledge your results, an award, or amazing testimonial? Is it so bad to say “I’m good at this … actually I’m bloody good at this”


I’m not saying you have to jump up and down shouting out loud “I’M THE BEST” .. we all know that’s subjective (and maybe a tad vulgar!) .. but acknowledging that you’re good at what you do, accepting other people’s praise and saying “I do this really well” is the best start you can give yourself to any presentation or meeting and the best opportunity for the right people to find you. If you don’t think you’re that good – why would anyone choose to work with you?



The other thing to know is it’s not just the big things that matter.

What you do well may be as seemingly simple as smiling at people when they arrive and making them feel welcome, or being the person people come to for help on something, or that you know the name of everyone in your team and a bit about their life. They’re probably the things that you think are “just part of my job” or “everyone does that don’t they?” Alas, probably not.

Start noticing and acknowledging the things you do well, be proud of them, do more of them, and when you are asked then say with pride, “I do this”

Start being noticed for what you do well every day, the little things and the big, If others don’t acknowledge it, then give yourself a pat on the back … and you might find that the more you acknowledge what you do well … the easier it is to speak about it without feeling like you’re showing off, after all, you’re just showing up!