Trying to make forward progress in almost anything when you don’t have faith in your ability to do it, just doesn’t work. No matter how well you conceal it, your uncertainty will wind itself around your neck and stop you from showing what you’re really capable of.

How To Write About YourselfAnd no more does this apply than when you have to write about yourself for a job application, or even in a short biography. There’s lots more on this topic in my eBook “How To Write About Yourself” – but now let’s take that a stage further to help you believe, and behave, as well as you write about yourself.

We’ve got to snap out of our modesty culture

Especially, but not exclusively in the UK, it has long been thought that it’s “bad form” to “blow your own trumpet.” Saying what you’re good at often is still seen as bragging or being boastful. No, no. You should make out that you’re really not awfully good at this or that and hope that your prospective employer or client is psychic and can guess that you’re just being well-bred and politely modest. Nonsense!

Modern day business just hasn’t got time or space to accommodate such 19th century niceties and anyway these days, people who use that putdown are normally jealous of the fact that you are better at whatever than they are… so can only find a way to criticise by pulling out the old modesty/humility card.

There’s no shame to be found in stating what you’re good at and what you’re capable of, because it’s true, and you can bet your bottom dollar that your job rival or competitor ain’t going to sing your praises on your behalf. So if you don’t, who will? And then there’s the other uncomfortable truth here, too – if you don’t think you’re good, why the heck should your prospective employer or client?

The difference between saying you’re good, and saying you’re better than you really are

This is where I stop banging my drum for a minute. There is a gap only slightly smaller than the Grand Canyon between telling honestly and truthfully what you’re capable of, and telling dishonestly and foolishly what you’d like to do but can’t.

You may get away with it for a while but unless you are an experienced actor, a sharp-eyed interviewer or client will soon begin to suspect that you’re exaggerating. Even if you manage to limp over the first hurdle and get the job or the contract, if you’ve told lies about what you can deliver the truth will start oozing out pretty soon afterwards. Goofs like that do not amuse employers and clients and with news travelling as fast as it does, your reputation will be down the drain in a matter of hours.

How to say you’re good with honesty, not modesty: 10 tips

Obviously a lot depends on how deeply ingrained your reluctance to sing your own praises really is! However here are some thoughts for you to be going on with…

1. Write down what your capabilities and talents are (as an employee, as a supplier, etc.)

2. Then either pretend you’re a good friend who knows you well (or get a good friend to do it if you can’t) and either way, create a “third-party” version of those same capabilities and talents

3. Already you’ll see a difference. Now, take over the third-party role yourself, if you haven’t already.

4. Approach every step of preparation for job seeking or new business prospecting, etc., looking upon and writing about yourself not as you, but as a product or service you’re selling for someone else.

5. Use visualisation techniques to imagine you-the-product-or-service in the new job or having won the new business. Think how it will feel. Think how you’ll enjoy the financial benefits.

6. Imagine yourself working day to day with the employer, or carrying out ongoing projects with the client. Spend plenty of time doing this and you’ll find it becomes more familiar and more comfortable. You’ll feel less apprehensive and unsure.

7. Keep saying to yourself, “I am very good at what I do.” Write it down on a piece of paper and stick it on your fridge or office wall. It may sound silly and woo-woo, but self-affirmation like this does work.

8. Take plenty of time to dress and get ready for interviews, presentations, new business meetings, meetings with the bank manager or investor, etc. As the cosmetics commercial says, “because you’re worth it.”

9. Obviously plan to look your best, but don’t fret about a pimple on your chin or a spot on your suit. You are very good at what you do, remember? And whoever you are going to meet is going to be interested in what you do, not the fact that your shoes got a little dusty walking in from the parking lot.

10. Lastly, be proud of what you can do. It may not have been something your great-grandmother would have approved of, and it certainly isn’t what jealous so-called friends would want. But you’ve earned it. So go out there and tell them – that you’re good. And if you believe it, so will they.

Good luck – go out there and shine!