Getting Comfortable With Self Promotion

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I’m not talking about self-serving, self-absorbed, self -interested kind of self-promotion.


The kind which seems cringey.


I’m talking about the simple act of discussing your unique strengths and talents.


And, it’s necessary and important. Whether to bring more patient or clients to your door, or to get that promotion at work. Being able to do so in a manner which is not off putting is essential for succeeding professionally.


Why does this feel uncomfortable? What is holding us back?

Our culture tells us that we are supposed to be modest and self-deprecating.  That all we need to do is just do a good job. Eventually, someone will notice. Your hard work will get recognized without you needing to shout it from the rooftops.

And, women are given this message more than men.

But the thing is, that’s not true. There are so many accounts of women who work hard, are “team players” and their work and ideas get attributed to men. In fact, aides in President Obama’s White House, noticed this this trend and came up with a strategy to combat this, called amplification. When a woman suggested an idea or an action plan, the other women present in the meeting would repeat it, giving credit to the original woman.

This is just one way to navigate the societal construct that we aren’t supposed to elevate ourselves. Having someone else do so, this third party attribution to self-praise makes it more palatable and is the subject of Susan Speer’s research.

So, what else stops up from discussing our achievements? Unfortunately, studies have found that women who promote themselves are seen in a more negative light than men. Self-praise is tolerate in men, more so than women. So, what do we do?


Believe in the value you are adding

If you truly believe in the value that you are adding – whether it’s the manner you serve your patients, or a book you’re selling, then discussing it simply is a way of serving others. If you know that it will improve their lives, then it doesn’t need to feel “icky” to talk about it. You’re the only one making it feel that way.


Highlight your strengths when opportunities present themselves

There are appropriate times to casually mention that you recently published an article on scientific advancements in your field. At a dinner party when the topic of conversation is Impressionistic art is likely not it. Knowing when and where to interject these into conversations takes a subtle approach. Email is often a great way to encompass your strengths as to why you would be a good fit for said job/lecture, etc.


Become an expert

It’s not “fake it until you make it”. Make it first. Do the work. Study. Read. Become the go-to person in your field. Then, when those opportunities arise, you have the evidence and data to back up why you’re the best person.


I'm Rupa Wong.

Hi! I'm Dr. Rupa Wong. Physician. Private Practice Owner. Mama to 3 kids. Managing Partner. Educator. Textbook Author. Conference Co-Founder. Mentor. I am more than just one thing, even as a doctor and I bet you are too. I would love to help you envision the life you want, and then get after it. What are you waiting for?


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