I like talking about myself. There I said it. I’ve had a PR company for the past 17 years. I am really good at self promotion.
There was a time when I would talk about myself in an effort to convince myself that I am a decent human being who has accomplished a lot in life. I didn’t believe it, so I talked about. I did it out of insecurity and the need to be seen. I didn’t just do this in face-to-face conversations. My social media posts just screamed “look at me and how awesome/kind/intelligent/successful/altruistic I am!”
No one wanted to hear that.
Then I got wind of what I was doing and why I was doing it. I had to do a lot of soul searching and set a different intention when it came to talking about myself. I got over delivering the douchey self-indulgent monologues and began talking about myself with the intent of informing, engaging, connecting, and building trust and rapport.
Many people think it’s taboo to talk about themselves. They think they’ll come across as conceited or narcissistic, or that they are being a braggy show-off. If they do talk about themselves, they water it down so they don’t come across as arrogant or full of hot air.
The truth is, there’s really nothing wrong with talking about yourself especially if you’ve had something big and exciting happen in your life that you want to share with the world. Perhaps you got a raise, or landed that big client, or a dream finally began to take off. Maybe you had an exciting, life-altering experience that you want to share with the world. All are perfectly acceptable and worthy of discussion and praise.
Talking about yourself (and I’m not talking about in a job interview situation), is an opportunity to make an emotional connection. It’s a great vehicle to communicate a certain knowledge, your background, your work or life experience, or something in common you have with someone.
When it comes to talking about yourself, it all depends on your intent, what you say and how you say it. Want to know how you can effectively talk about yourself without sounding like an asshole? Here ya go:
Don’t manufacture sympathy. We’ve all seen those friends who are constantly posting the “woe as me” messages on their social media pages. This drives me nuts. Don’t be that guy or gal. No one wants to hear or read about your constant health, money or relationship issues in an effort to garner sympathy from your audience. If it’s that bad, hire a therapist.
Be vulnerable. Kind of like I was above. I admitted that I talked about myself out of insecurity. I’m not afraid to talk about my failures and shortcomings. I am more than happy to share my mistakes.
Being vulnerable is one of the best ways to connect with people because let’s face it, nobody’s perfect. It makes you more approachable. If you’re always trying to be the superhero of every conversation, it can be intimidating, annoying, and it can highlight the insecurities of your audience. People are drawn to the imperfections in one’s life and story because it makes them realize that they too can be OK with their own shortcomings.
Don’t be a humblebrag.This is another thing we see on social media: people posting about an occasional grandiose charitable effort that they maybe do once or twice a year. Don’t get me wrong. It’s great when people give back even if it is on occasion, but to do so for praises and accolades is annoying, and it’s for the wrong reasons.
Being the co-founder of a nonprofit organization, it is easy for me to fall into this trap. However, there’s a difference between talking about doing good works in an effort to raise awareness and support for your cause and your mission vs. talking about it to garner a bunch of virtual pats on the back.
Don’t be overly self-deprecating. The occasional self-deprecating humor can be hilariously funny with the right timing and delivery. However, too much is a watering down technique and weak attempt to belittle yourself in a humorous manner. As Jen Sincero states in her (ah-mazing) book “You Are a Badass”:
“If you’re one of those people who falls back on making fun of yourself, every hour on the hour, not only are you basically begging people to think you’re a loser, but you’re begging yourself to think you’re a loser. Why on earth would you do that to your awesome self?”
Avoid Information Overload. It’s great to tell your story and talk about the exciting things in your life, but there’s no need to lay it all out on the table. Honesty has its limits and some people really don’t want to hear about all the gory details of your life, nor do they want to hear constant whining, bragging, or too much self-involvement.
An exception to the TMI rule here is if a very traumatic experience in your life has lead you to help others who’ve suffered through the same traumatic experience. Then, it’s part of your story that lends credibility to your work. However, there is still the fine line between honesty and vulnerability, and going overboard.
While it’s great to (appropriately) talk about yourself, don’t forget to listen. A conversation is a 2, 3, or many way street. If you make the conversation all about you, you’ll lose your audience and no one will want to talk to you.
And hey, if you find you’re hopping on the train to assholeville, stop and laugh at yourself with a little “Oh my! Guess I’m overdoing it, aren’t I?” Then laugh it off and shut up. By doing so, you’re displaying a great sense of self-awareness and being conscientious of your audience. Just remember to be yourself, stay true to your story and maintain the intention of making a true connection.