How To Toot Your Own Horn Without Blowing It

Dec 05, 2014 1 Min Read

Photo credit (above): Ms. Phoenix | Flickr


Sharing our strengths and the value we bring, whether at home or work can be a fine balancing act.

Share too much and you will come across as a braggart. Share too little, and well, you won’t come across at all.

“Without promotion something terrible happens – nothing.” – P.T. Barnum

Here are six approaches for tooting your own horn without blowing it and ensuring others know what you have been up to:

1. “How’s it going?”

Instead of the trite “fine” the next time someone asks you how it’s going, brag it up a bit.

“Going great, thanks! I’ve just finished (insert accomplishment/result).” Pay particular attention when you are talking with the boss.

I was coaching a manager one time who was asking, “Why doesn’t my team share their successes? All they seem to bring me are problems!”

Keep in mind that others do want to hear your good news.

What you can do: The next time someone asks you how you’re doing, do the unexpected. Share your good news.

2. Keep a file of people’s feedback

Many of us, especially women, often dismiss positive feedback or compliments. We shrug them off as if they mean nothing.

Well they don’t mean nothing. They mean everything! Especially on our toughest days when things don’t seem to be going well, having sight of our strengths can help us successfully navigate our challenges.

What you can do: Create a file to keep a record of positive comments you receive, as well as your accomplishments.

If you have completed a 360-feedback, keep the positive comments and refer to them. The people who shared them recognise these as your strengths, so you should too!

3. Speak your truth

During our emotional intelligence workshop, I will ask participants to write down their top three strengths, and to keep this list visible for the next month.

Whether you put them on the fridge, bathroom mirror, at your desk – the choice is yours.

What you can do: Recognise and celebrate your strengths. If you don’t know what these are, how can you expect others to?

4. Keep it simple

Avoid embellishing your contributions or spinning a tall tale.

You don’t need to be clinical in sharing your good news. Just stick to the facts.

If you are known for the “one that got away” or “the fish was THIS big”, then you will rapidly lose credibility.

What you can do: Share the facts, what the problem was, what you did to help resolve it, what the final outcome was (even if it slightly missed the mark).

5. Put your best foot forward

Get involved, whether at work or organisations you belong to, outside of the office. Being visible is a way to demonstrate your strengths without having to overtly toot your horn.

If others can see you contributing in ways outside of your job description, it will stop you being type-cast or overlooked for future opportunities.

What you can do: Volunteer for projects or committees – to prepare the presentation or coach the new employee.

6. Stories sell

Stories paint a picture, one that others can remember. Instead of starting with the punchline try a different tack.

A story is a great way to demonstrate how you overcame an obstacle or solved a specific problem. Sharing your story helps others to learn from your approach and get to know you a little better along the way.

What you can do: Whether you are the hero(ine) who saves the day, or your story is where you messed up – share what you learned, how you moved forward and show others the story of success.

“Hide not your talents, they for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shade?” – Benjamin Franklin

Do it now! Don’t be shy! What’s the “awesome-sauce” that makes you special?
Toot your horn and let’s celebrate what makes you special!

For more articles on leadership and personal development, visit

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Morag is the best-selling author of Cultivate: The Power of Winning Relationships and CEO of SkyeTeam, an international HR consulting and leadership development company. Her experience ranges from senior executive coaching to developing leaders and teams across Europe, America and Asia.

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