Everyday Self-Promotion and Personality Types

Being Seen in a Busy World

It’s a busy world, and it’s so easy to get lost in the general clamor of life. This is especially true in the employment arena. If a lot is happening around you, it might not matter how well you do your job. Your efforts may still go unnoticed.

We all like to think that the world is fair, that effort is recognized and rewarded. And many examples show that there can be some rewards based solely on merit. But that’s not a guaranteed thing anymore. Often we have to do a little self-promotion.

Self-promotion, the act of raising your profile in the eyes of others, is not easy for many. Some of us are taught the evils of bragging as children, and whole cultures promote humility as the appropriate posture. “Pride goeth before a fall” suggests that talking about ourselves in glowing terms leads to destruction, no matter how true those terms might be.

And we’ve all known people whose accomplishments are their favorite subject. These individuals generously teach us that there may be times when squelching the impulse to talk about oneself is a good idea, if for no other reason than to avoid boring others to tears. While this article series is designed to help various personality types find ways to talk more about themselves, we must also be reminded that there can be too much of a good thing.

General Perspectives

For those who are hesitant to embark on a path of self-promotion, here are some generalizations that might help you gain a perspective that leaves you feeling more comfortable. As you read these, remember that there are all kinds of “corporate cultures.” Not all of them follow the beat of the same drummer, so these generalizations may not apply to every work environment that you may encounter. Part of self-promotion can involve learning how to read the room.

  • Self-promotion is often needed when there is a lot of noise in a crowded professional field. In some work environments, it may be the only way that you’ll get rewarded for your efforts beyond receiving your regular paycheck (which may not have increased in a while), even if you have made extraordinary efforts to excel.
  • Self-promotion is most powerful when delivered in low to moderate amounts. Someone who self-promotes too often risks appearing as though they are primarily interested in advancing and less concerned with aligning themselves with the organization’s vision.
  • Self-promotion is often best when it feels social. It should be fun and casual, a chance to simply tell stories about your life that might include your accomplishments. As a social interaction, making room for feedback and comments from others makes it a conversation rather than a presentation. Overall, the more organic and social a self-promotion strategy is, the less it will look contrived and manipulative.
  • Self-promotion should focus less on the things that you can do and more on the value that you bring to others by doing what you do. Keep in mind that the workplace is not a circus. Showing others that you can do a triple somersault means nothing in the self-promotion arena, unless doing so creates real and measurable value for those watching you flip. Listing a long list of your accomplishments only goes so far. Be sure to highlight what makes your contribution valuable.
  • Self-promotion isn’t bragging. The difference between the two involves style, intention, and tone. You can tell the same truth about yourself two times: one way comes across as bragging, while the other inoffensively tells a story about who you are. When a person brags, their tone suggests their neediness. If they recall their exploits without a generous “we’re all doing the best we can” humility, all that others hear is a sad plea for love. Self-promotion is humbly speaking of your accomplishments without sounding like your entire identity depends on them. Be generous by sharing the spotlight in your stories, and keep an eye on your intensity level.
  • Self-promotion is simple and never exaggerated. Overexplaining quickly reveals the speaker’s insecurity as they try to anticipate all the objections and negative thoughts that others might have concerning what they are saying. While you will want to explain the details and the value of your accomplishments to a certain extent, there needs to be a point where your descriptions need no more help from you. Know when to stop. Also bear in mind that exaggeration is either too obvious or too easily disproved if there is doubt in the listener’s mind. Avoid exaggerating at all costs. If people believe that what you say is too good to be true, they will likely trust their instincts and find it difficult to accept your story. Keep it simple as you tell your unvarnished truth. And, as an added bonus, since it’s always easier to keep a simple truth straight, applying this principle takes a lot of effort out of telling your story.

Self-Promotion and Personality Type

So, if we look through the lens of personality theory, what might be the advantages or disadvantages of each personality type when it comes to self-promotion?

If you don’t know your personality type, take our free personality test to find out.

People with certain personality traits seem to self-promote with more ease than others. For example, Extraverts are much more likely than Introverts to report finding it easy to talk about themselves. Extraverts also tend to report higher self-confidence, which can’t hurt when one needs to toot their own horn.

On the other hand, Feeling personality types are generally more likely than Thinking types to describe themselves as humble, which suggests that they may find talking about their accomplishments harder. Feeling types are even more likely to give someone else credit for their accomplishments. It’s safe to say that while such a generous attitude is usually laudable, it may not be helpful when pursuing the art of self-promotion.

As we explore this topic for each personality type throughout this series, we will be using the word story in a somewhat specialized way. For these articles, that can mean a literal “once upon a time” story format or any kind of presentation that tells others about your work and life. But self-promotion is all about telling your story in one form or another. The word story is designed to remind you that the goal, regardless of the medium that you use, is storytelling rather than a sales pitch. Fear not if you can’t see yourself telling stories at open-mic night at your local pub. We acknowledge that there are many ways to tell a story.

Stay tuned for upcoming articles in our series on self-promotion and personality type.

Further Reading