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Is it OK to Brag?

adult learning behavioral science Jul 06, 2022

Like me, you were probably raised to believe that no one will like you if you talk about yourself all the time. But did you know that if you can get people to talk about themselves, this act of  self-disclosure is accompanied by spurts of heightened activity in the brain? Harvard neuroscientists have found that talking about ourselves gives us the same signals of pleasure in the brain as food or money.

And although bragging is a common behavior, often times when someone asks, “What makes you unique?” it’s NOT uncommon to struggle a bit. You’re essentially having to disclose why you believe you’re special. 

If I were to ask you, “What makes you unique? What is your sizzle?” think of all the answers that pop into your head. Are they quirky traits, odd habits, or a skill you wish you could share in a TikTok video?

I recently asked a version of this question to a group of young leaders. Rather than figuring out what makes them unique, I asked them to think about what value they bring to the company that no one else does. Not ONE of them could quickly give me an answer my question.

So I reached for my Totally Awesome Training Activity Guide Book and pulled out one of my favorite activities:  Brag Fest.


Brag Fest Activity - (or "Identify Your Sizzle")

Purpose: To help participants discover and reveal resources that already exist inside of them in a quiet and intense way.

Materials: Paper and pens/markers.

How to: Divide your class into small groups (no less than 4 and no more than 6). Give everyone paper and pens. Have each person draw a picture of the achievement of which they feel most proud. Matchstick figures are perfectly acceptable. The achievement can be from any time in their lives. It may be from home, work, social, academic, or a hobby. It can be a particular instant or something that took a period of time. After a few minutes, have them write on the borders of their pictures all the personal qualities they needed to bring about that achievement. Give them 5 minutes to work on drawing their achievements. When they have finished, ask them to discuss their individual achievements and qualities with the people in their group.

Debrief Questions:

► Did you find it difficult to “brag” about your achievements?

► What other resources should you be tapping into?

► Given these qualities, what, are you capable of achieving?

Awesome Tips:  Ask the participants to not be modest when defining their qualities. It is easy to feel boastful, but those are all real life characteristics (or Sizzle) that we need to identify to help achieve difficult goals. Also, take this opportunity to educate them about the resources that your organization has to help them grow in their areas of unique gifts and skills.


When you are facing a challenge in the workplace, why not give your team the opportunity to openly brag? It can cause them to feel better about themselves, realize they are in fact good at a variety of things, and feel really confident about it. PLUS, they will see that what helped them to get them through a challenge in the past, can also help them to conquer the current challenge.

You may have been taught that bragging is bad, but perhaps the truth is that it’s just misunderstood.

What do you think? Is bragging ok? What is your sizzle?

Watch my Monica's Morning Musings where I share this activity.

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