There are a lot of negative associations with self-praise, and research shows that us Brits are amongst those who find bragging the most difficult. However although we aren’t sure whether Leo Durocher actually uttered the famous phrase, ‘nice guys finish last’, when it comes to sharing praise it could actually hold true.
Stanford Business Professor, Jeffery Pfeffer says that “we believe we want people who are modest, authentic and all the things we rate positively to be our leaders, but we find it’s all the things we rate negatively, like immodesty, that are the best predictors of higher salaries or getting chosen for a leadership position.” We briefly touched upon Pfeffer’s ideas in our blog, ‘How to ask for a promotion’, with bragging about your achievements being key to moving up the ladder, yet it seems there’s one key group who still haven’t gotten to grips with bigging themselves up.
Time after time, women have been found to struggle more than their male counterparts when it comes to owning their achievements. In fact a May 2013 study found that women are far less likely to take credit for their work when working with men, than when solely on a female team.
Similarly, A Montana State University experiment which asked women to write both a job recommendation for themselves and for a friend, found those for the friend to be of considerably better quality. Some have suggested that these issues regarding women blowing their own trumpets, could be partially responsible for the gender pay gap and lack of women in top-level positions. However Jillian Berman, Huffposts Associate Business Editor suggests we can counteract these effects by assuming “women are probably underselling themselves.” Whilst it can feel difficult to ditch the “we” and embrace the “I” when talking about the effects you’ve had on projects, it has been found to have a direct effect not only on our wage packets, but also on the way others see us.
An experiment cited in ‘A Status-Enhancement Account of Overconfidence’, in which participants had to rate their knowledge, found that those who rated themselves most highly, were also rated by others as “deserving respect and admiration”, proving once and for all, we really should be faking it until we make it. There are businesses, who are attempting to negate the gap that can be caused by a lack of confidence, with Google and Time both creating “safe spaces for self-promotion”, however a lot of the responsibility still comes down to employees. So next time when you feel you’ve done a good job, try telling someone, their response might be more positive than you think.