How to avoid coming off as a humble-brag?

There have been times in my life when I suppose I've come off as a humble-brag without necessarily trying to. How do you share cool experiences (I've lived in x and y places, attended such and such school, work in such and such industry) without coming off as insufferable? I'm much more cautious about what I say now and sometime avoid subjects about me that might come off as humble-brags (EG I've lived in a few different cool places, travelled to a few cool places etc.) The problem is that some of these humble-brags would be answers to very natural questions (where are you from, where did you grow up, where did you study, what do you work in, what are you doing over summer etc) and I look shady if I hesitate to answer. What is the solution? Down-play stuff, simplify stuff, avoid answering? 

Part of me thinks other people should grow up and stop being sensitive about other people having a cool background or having done cool things... I do find some people ( a minority) will actually talk smack behind your back and think you're arrogant, privileged etc. 

I suppose this entire post might come off as a humble-brag lmao.

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In my experience, only losers get offended by “humble bragging”. I am being dead serious. I have never met anyone successful that was offended by the success of others.

I used to care more, but now, I truly do not care. If you're offended, there's very low odds that you are someone who is going to meaningfully contribute to what I'm working on anyways. 

When someone is "bragging" to me about something, usually I get excited to learn more. Maybe they are happy they could afford their first nice car, and they want to share their passion about it. I dont know much about cars, so it's nice to learn from someone who is passionate...

Sometimes I have to spend time around losers, IE 3P critical vendors, government, etc. For those people, I just refuse to make small talk and only discuss work at hand plus act super busy. "Sorry, I have to run soon, can we rip through this?" --- polite and apologetic, but RUSHED. Don't let these leeches each up your time.

There definitely is a line though. It's like old money vs new money. im sure we all have that friend who says "we made x dollars this year" and stuff like that, which is nauseating especially in a group setting (where people have different backgrounds). But yea if someone slights you for anything accomplished - new car, job, house, vacation, whatever then fuck em


There definitely is a line though. It's like old money vs new money. im sure we all have that friend who says "we made x dollars this year" and stuff like that, which is nauseating especially in a group setting (where people have different backgrounds). But yea if someone slights you for anything accomplished - new car, job, house, vacation, whatever then fuck em

Old money guys just know they are too dumb to make money again, or they inherited it and have no skill set to make more money, that's why they are quiet. They have no real achievements in most cases.

If athletes that dedicate their life to a sport can brag about performance, then people passionate about their careers can too.

Personally, I just love hanging around people  that actually care about what they do. Most of these people will absolutely shove their numbers in your face, as they should. Their work and dedication is impressive. Whether it's being a pro level musician who can rip flight of the bumblebee at 240 bpm or some dude that just sold his go for $240m.

I don’t know how much detail you go into when you say these things, but that’s a critical component here. There’s a difference between saying “I lived in the richest parts of X, Y, and Z” and merely saying that you lived in France or something. “I moved around a lot as a kid” or “my parents moved around a lot for work” are relatable phrases, even if they aren’t common experiences for people.

If you went to a fancy school, you don’t have to give all the details. If it was a religious school, say something like “I went to a Catholic school.” Everyone knows what one of those are like. Make a few strict nun jokes.

Distill from your experiences that kernel of commonality and shared truth with which your audience will be familiar. You can have an elite background, but there are always similarities. There are kind people and unkind people. Hard working and lazy. The troublemakers and the do-gooders. Dial back the details where needed and play up the elements of your experiences which you know will likely be shared by others. It’s a natural thing that we all have to do.

Yes I agree. I do try to keep it vague like you say EG "I've moved around"  but while that sometimes does the trick some people probe. In the past I was a bit more specific about neighborhoods etc (lived in such area of such city) but I do think that was probed out of me half the time (where in x did you grow up) while in other instances I just mentioned it on my own initiative not thinking it was a big deal.

But yes keeping it simple, general, relatable seems to be a good strategy. There is a bit of a burden of humility though where you have to down-play things.

Ah, but if people are asking you follow-on questions, why would it be an issue that you’re humble bragging?

Unless multiple people are telling you this, I wouldn’t make too much of it, and I would say that you’re just living in your head a little. It’s a fine concern to have, but don’t let it tear you up unless a lot of people are telling you this.

I think a huge part of it (there are many parts to it, this is just one) comes from not thinking about it all. The more you try to avoid humble-bragging, the more conspicuous it becomes and the insecure people will latch onto that.

For example, Analyst A who doesn't think about it, and is natural and authentic, says 'Ah shit dawg, yea I did my undergrad at Harvard, it was calm, etc etc etc'

Analyst B who consciously tries to avoid humble-bragging, skirts around it by saying 'Yea so I went to uni in Boston'. Then when people try to egg it out of him cuz they're confused, only then Analyst B reluctantly says he went to Harvard. Analyst B comes across as fake and unauthentic. The small dick people might even think Analyst B is trying to withhold information  to make a 'big reveal' that he went to Harvard.

I'm always anxious myself about coming across as bragging too lol.

Well, there's an idiosyncrasy in this, if you're an international student. You would only tell people at home that you studied in which country. There's already a lot of small dick people who already get butthurt over that. If you say it even more directly - name of the prestigious institution, e.g., Oxford or Cambridge - those people get even more butthurt

Understandable situation sometimes, what I tend to do is answer questions if asked (like the ones you mention above) or if it happens that I have something to contribute (like if ther person is thinking of visiting Country/City X, and I happen to have lived there). Nothing wrong with sharing your experiences and connecting with others. On the contrary, they are likely talking about something they want to do and are excited about, so it is a good thing to bond over (just let them do the talking :) ).

Completely agree with the person above, that you should focus on the element of commonality as much as possible. In the above example I asked them why that country interested them and what they would do there, so then I could respond in kind (instead of, say, going on a random tangent about Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe). Also no need for example to mention however many places I may or may not have lived in beyond Country X (irrelevant to the conversation).

To be fair, I am fairly private on this stuff (I suppose out of concern for what you describe and also because not everyone can do those things, and it can sometimes unncessarily make them feel uncomfortable or embarassed, even though they have no reason to), so unless asked directly, it's really unlikely you'll know anything I did or anywhere I went to. Same on my socio-economic background, unless you are super specifically asking me very pointed questions, you'd never know anything about it.

TL;DR: never brag (humbly or otherwise) unless it's an interview. Just be relatable and share your experiences only if they're relevant to the conversation at hand.

Don't think it's humble bragging if you're simply answering a question, as long as your answer is also straightforward. For example, if someone asks where you went to college, just say "Harvard", no more, no less. Mirror the other person's tone, like don't smirk when you name drop. If someone judges based on that alone, "it's not you, it's them".

Agree there's many insecure people walking around, but sometimes privileged people sound out of touch, hence the stereotypes. 

About the Harvard thing, I think we could all learn from how legends talk about their experiences, in podcasts or interviews. When the Marc Rowans, Seth Klarmans, David Abrams, Howard Marks, Jamie Dimons of the world get asked about their backgrounds and experiences, they just confidently and matter-of-factly say 'Harvard. I went to Harvard' (or any other household name school). That always sounds very natural.

It's always the younger folk who worry about being perceived as humble-bragging about their backgrounds and try to skirt around it, which pisses off the small dick people.

Of course, it's the small dick people that we want to dissociate from in our lives, but in business, we need to have the emotional intelligence and leadership abilities to be able to make a point without pissing off the small dicks

Yes but I suppose coming from these massive public figures who have achieved amazing things you'd expect them to say these schools. It seems natural and not that humble braggy since their school is almost an appendix to their insane achievements (so them mentioning their school doesn't seem like that much of a brag)

Also the "small dick people" cannot just be walled off as some of them are actually very smart and climb the corporate ladder / are successful / get into positions of power. You need to learn how to manage fragile egos always. Even some kings and dictators in the past had elements of impish pettiness to them

I used to be the same way, or a lot worse to the point where I was afraid of sounding arrogant. But if someone asks, that is your opening to talk about whatever it is that’s on your mind. Don’t be afraid to share, this is what makes you interesting and it fosters real communication. Now, dropping info pieces that are seemingly unrelated to what is being discussed is boasting. Don’t be a one-upper. And it doesn’t sound like you are, especially if you are self-aware.

Tbh you need to get over thinking or worrying about upsetting losers, yea losers, in your life. They aren't losers for having the lack of experiences you do - but for trying to bring you down or slight any accomplishment. At a certain point when you do enough in your life you just eventually internalize it and if people think you are bragging then who cares, that's their problem. Basically, you recognized that you can have a pair of twin brothers. One went to Alabama, the other Harvard. Both like their alma maters so wear shirts displaying it. Bama kid gets "roll tide! Great football team", etc. while harvard kid gets "yea we get it you went to Harvard, quit bragging" etc. It's a damn shame because the behavior is the exact same - neither kid is in the wrong. you shouldnt try to bring yourself down just to appease an insecure jackass 

Now there is a big difference between the above, and legit bragging, which usually is just your own insecurity manifesting. If you are in a group of friends with different socio-economic backgrounds and talk about how much to the dollar your bonus was, or how much to the dollar amount you made in the market this year, then you are being a twat. But if you say stuff that is still limited to being wealthy, but in a relatable way ("yea it was a pretty good bonus year" or "was really fortunate with investments this year" or hell even "I did a lot of saving for a heli-skiing trip, it cost a lot but man it was worth it"), especially when asked, then that is fair game. 

If you're fit/jacked you get this shit quite a bit too, usually from doughy family members and friends who at social outtings basically want to find a way to fit their gluttonous food down your mouth. You eventually learn to not give a shit. It's also nice because you eventually meet other people with a winners mentality who are more eager to talk about subjects other than what Netflix show is being binged

It's not about the way you say it, but more about the audience. If you tell a starving kid that "you went to xxx restaurant and had a new type of fish …" It will be condescending humble brag no matter how you said it. Pick the right topic for the right audience. Just make sure the audience has access to what you are talking about. Tell traveling stories to people who can afford traveling. Tell banking stories to people who have worked with large amount of capital. Tell college stories to people who attended similar tier of college. Tread carefully if the audience is underprivileged - talk about common stuff, like weather, movies, siblings etc.

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