I like to listen to boasters. I think that they have part of it right – tell the world what you’ve done and share every experience that you have.
I know what’s behind the boasting – the need for attention and external validation. They are not showing off, the are trying to show up – to make themselves relevant, to claim a space and to have others pay attention. They want to be heard and seen, just as the rest of us. They are braver than the rest of us to seek what they need.
The rest of us are caught up in being polite. We don’t want to offend others. We are like those kids who are not supposed to speak unless spoken to, so we wait for someone to invite us, to tell what we have done or what we are proud of. We want to play small.
I encourage others to boast. Sometimes I start workshop sessions inviting participants to boast, to share what they have never said, to wow others with their degrees, the things they have done, the awards they won back in primary school, the politicians they had breakfast with, the movies stars they grew up with.
Most people are uncomfortable with the notion, they laugh and ask, “You want me to boast?” I respond “Yes, I want you to boast. Say everything that you’ve ever done. Exaggerate if you want to. This may be your one chance to legitimately boast.”
Participants timidly start and then they get into it – remembering the medals, the races they won, that they were the first one to …
Everyone gets excited – the boasters and the listeners – as they learn new things about each other and see each other in new light. “I never knew that you were…, I didn’t know you did that.”
I watch their faces, their eyes light up, their gestures become expansive and there are lots of smiles and laughter.
This week I invite you to boast. Let people see who you are, let them know about what you’ve done. Let them see how big you are.
What are you going to boast about?
P.S. As you boast don’t do what irritating boasters do – don’t shamelessly drop names, don’t talk above others as they tell their story and when your listeners get that glazed look, stop talking and invite them to speak.
Maxine Attong is the author of two business books – Change or Die – The Business Process Improvement Manual and Lead your Team to Win. She is a speaker, coach, Organisational Development consultant and an accountant.