Bragging your way to the top

Keshia Knight, A&E Editor

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Bragging about one’s own accomplishments is often considered taboo. As children many of us were taught not to boast about ourselves because it comes off as arrogant or self-aggrandizing. But communication expert Peggy Klaus begs to differ: bragging is a way to put yourself out there and let the world know who you are.

Before a packed Bertolini Student Activities Center  Nov. 1 Klaus taught self-promotional skills, most notably those featured in her book, “The art of tooting your own horn without blowing it.” The interactive workshop featured Klaus’ special skill set about learning the right ways to turn the spotlight on one’s self in a natural and comfortable way.

Through demonstrations and audience participation, Klaus helped change the perception of “Branding, Bragging and Self-Promotion” so that individuals can use their accomplishments to get ahead in their professional, educational and personal lives. Klaus explained ways people can differentiate themselves from the herd through a series of tips on how to get out and self-promote, whether it be through a “fly-by” bragging moment or preparing yourself to go out and do it.

One of the ways Klaus gets herself ready before any type of performance, whether it’s teaching a workshop or meeting with heads of a Fortune 500 company, is to rehearse in an “Over the Top” manner.

As she explained the concept of OTT to the Bertolini Center, Klaus ran around the room yelling, jumping and psyching herself up with words of encouragement. She told the audience the best way to get ready for any type of performance is to practice before hand.
“A professional athlete would never step onto the field without warming up,” Klaus said. “So why would you go out for an interview without doing so too?”

The audience paired up to practice the OTT method, energetically describing what they had for lunch.

One of the next steps of bragging Klaus taught was to create a short statement that describes recent successes or even failures. Known as a fly-by, these statements allow for people to have something to say if they only have a short passing time or are caught off guard.  “Your best doesn’t always come to the conversation if you’re tired or overworked,” Klaus said. “This way you’ve got something to contribute.”

As the workshop wore on, the audience started to become aware of how they come across, how people see them and how they communicate in terms of how to “illicit interest and excitement for whoever is listening to it.” Klaus provided many tips and examples of how to use these skills and now it was just a matter of going out into the workforce, the classroom and the everyday conversations, and utilizing them.

“Practicing the skills that she [Klaus] taught us was great,” SRJC student Kayla Harbaugh said. “I’ll use these skills in not just school, but my everyday life. With my boss and my friends, how I interact with everyone; socially or with teachers.”

It was not just students who attended the workshop; many faculty and community members were in attendance including SRJC’s vice president of Human Resources. Staff members in charge of the event were elated at how successful the turnout was. They had hoped there would be a variety of people who could benefit from the workshop and they were eager to take Klaus’ skills back to the students they service.

“We had enough key people in attendance so this message is going to continue through the campus,” said Manager of Career Development Service Cathy Wilson. “Because we’ll infuse it into what we do next: with our other workshops, in one-on-one appointments and career development classes. This is something you can use for life.”

The comfortability of bragging might take some time for people to get use to; even for Klaus it did not necessarily happen overnight. As a child she too was told not to brag: her father said never to toot her own horn, because if she was doing a good job people would recognize and she would be rewarded. But as she grew up and moved to Hollywood, she soon realized that nobody was going to “talk her up” so she would have to do it herself to be noticed.

With a performance background Klaus draws on the experiences she’s had to be able to bring her best self to stage, in turn using that experience to guide other people’s performance.

“Unless you are able to talk about your accomplishments you may never get the job you want, that stretch assignment, the promotion, the resources that you want and/or deserve,” Klaus said. “You need to get your message about what it is that you’re doing and who you are out there in a very short, interesting, entertaining way. End of story.”

As Klaus ended the workshop she reminded the audience to go out and feel delight in bragging about themselves, but most importantly to work on the art form. “This is a process,” she said.” It’s only just the beginning.”

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