This Is When You Should Brag at Work, According to Science

Dacy Knight

No one likes a bragger, but sometimes a little bragging can go a long way—especially in the office. When it comes to speaking at work or interviewing for a new job, everything you say influences other people's impressions of you. You're more conscious to maximize your good qualities and minimize the bad, but sometimes you have the opportunity to speak directly about your performance and yourself as a person. So what's the right approach when it comes to outright bragging?

A recent study highlighted by Business Insider reveals some surprising findings on the subject of bragging and how it can be implemented as a strategy. Brown University researchers presented subjects on Amazon's Mechanical Turk platform with brief descriptions of individuals. Each snippet described a scenario where the individual takes a test, either brags or doesn't brag about their performance, and then whether they scored above average or below average is revealed or not. The subjects then rated the imagined test-takers on their perceived competence.

Braggers who scored high or whose scores are hidden are judged as more competent than non-braggers. On the other hand, a bragger who doesn't live up to their self-promoting claims, scoring low on the test, is seen as the least competent. 

"We tried to change the decision to brag or to boast or to 'self-enhance' into a strategy," says Patrick Heck, one of the authors of the study. So what does this mean for the workplace? If you're in a job interview or you have to speak about yourself to colleagues or superiors, only brag about what you can back up. If you toot your own horn using untruths that will come to light later, you'll make yourself look even less competent than if you had been honest about your shortcomings or had simply said nothing at all.

Do you agree with these findings? Share your thoughts about bragging in the workplace in the comments.

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