A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem
Dear Sue: What is the key to self-promotion?
I work with someone who is a master at promoting himself. He finds every opportunity to 'toot his horn', and I've even seen him take credit for things he didn't do, but no one seems to catch on.
Over the years, I have tried to promote myself, but don't feel as though I've been successful at it. Are some people natural promoters? Can anyone learn the art of self-promotion?
- Trying to promote myself
Sue Says: While most people need to work at promoting themselves, some may find it easier to do than others.
Self-promotion can be defined in many ways. As you have seen, there are people who manage to 'toot their own horn', and delight in talking about their accomplishments. However, many people feel uncomfortable talking or boasting about what they have done.
Self-promotion is more than 'tooting your own horn'. In fact, someone who is effective at promoting themselves often does it in a way that isn't obvious to others, and doesn't seem self-serving.
I think of self-promoters as leaders; people who have an ability to energize others, and make other people look and feel good. A lot of people withhold praise for others, fearing it will detract from them. However, when you are able to make someone else look good, you look good as well, and it reflects positively on you. Self-promoters are confident people who present themselves in the best possible manner at all times.
On the contrary, many people tend to minimize their strengths and accomplishments. Listen to the conversations you have with others - do you build yourself up or dwell on your shortcomings? Do you find opportunities to make things happen or wait until opportunities come to you? Are you willing to take on challenges and help out even when you may not benefit directly?
Self-promotion may be more than an art; it is a way of thinking and being.
I would love to hear how others view self-promotion, and invite you to write to me, and I will address this again in a future column.
Dear Sue: I've just been informed that one of my customers called in with a complaint about me. Rather than telling me about it or trying to resolve the problem, my boss took the account away from me.
Although I've tried, I can't get any information about what happened. It would help for me to know what went wrong, but what really bothers me is that no one from my company has even attempted to ask me about what happened.
Shouldn't my company be on my side and defend me? I feel cheated and wonder if this is appropriate.
Sue Says: I can understand your frustration, as it appears as though your boss is siding with the customer because no effort has been made to talk to you about what happened.
It's a tough call, because if the customer was really upset, your boss may have had no other choice than to pull you off the account. It is possible the customer demanded you be removed.
Regardless, it would have been appropriate and much nicer if you were consulted about what happened, and been able to be part of the resolution.
It isn't too late to try to get more information; although it may not change what has happened, it may prevent it from happening again.
Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She
is author of the newly released
101 Tips for Graduates and
How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at
email@example.com or visit her web site at
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