Dr Rob Yeung is a chartered psychologist and coach at consulting firm Talentspace

Self-promotion is a tactic used by some individuals in an attempt to achieve better outcomes at work. Self-promoters talk proudly about their experience, skills or education; they take credit for positive outcomes and downplay the consequences of mistakes or failures in which they are involved. They may also mention the names of important people in an effort to be seen more positively by way by association.

Colleagues can form much more accurate judgments about self-promoters’ actual skills and capabilities

Data shows that self-promotion is linked to performing well in job interviews; candidates who self-promote typically get higher ratings and are offered more jobs. However, the benefits of self-promotion in the workplace tend to be short-lived. When colleagues work with self-promoters over months or even years, they can form much more accurate judgments about their actual skills and capabilities.

When self-promotion works

There is one situation in which self-promotion may be viewed positively, though. Narcissistic leaders often suffer from feelings of personal inadequacy, which makes them more prone to engage in self-promotion in order to buoy their fragile feelings of self-worth. Research led by Deanne Den Hartog at the University of Amsterdam has confirmed that narcissistic leaders are particularly receptive to employees’ attempts to engage in self-promotion. In other words, if your supervisor is someone who engages in self-promotion, then you might want to do so, too.

More information

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