When understated becomes a liability

I’m going to state right now you might dislike this post.  The same way you didn’t appreciate being told about Santa Claus.

It’s nice to be in the dark sometimes, but there comes a time in your career when you must decide to [as my good friend Laura’s husband told her] “man up” and see the world as it exists, not as you want it to be.

Today’s harsh reality topic is that your strategy of being understated is limiting your career.

Here are a few truths

  • People that claim to be good at things they are not are posers.
  • People who do not claim to be good at things they are, become invisible

It is not arrogant to know what you do uniquely well.  It is not valuable to the organization to be invisible or underutilized.

Finding that perfect job fit, and doing your best work, is best facilitated when the people who are in charge know who you are and what you can do.  If your accomplishments and abilities are not known to the organization you should get a plan to fix that.


Or, it’s possible some poser is taking your great opportunity.  And that would suck more than knowing Santa isn’t coming this year.

4 thoughts on “When understated becomes a liability

  1. Yes. It was only relatively recently that I learned that I need to let my boss know what I’m succeeding with, rather than just what I’m struggling with. I used to go for weeks without talking about my work with my manager.

    My most recent manager insisted on weekly updates on my successes. At first I found this irritating, but I learned that this helped him to expose the value of our section to upper management.

    I think there is more to the difference between being a poser and being arrogant. It’s less about whether one’s claim is true or not (although that is important, of course), but more about one’s motive. I’ve come across people who blow their own trumpet all the time, and it becomes irritating, and they are seen as arrogant (I don’t know if that’s an Aussie thing or not – the idea of the “arrogant American” is a common stereotypes here, and we’re often too quick to cut down the “tall poppy”).

    A person who simply wants to apprise their manager what they are good at is being helpful.
    A person trying to prove they’re better than everyone else is arrogant – whether their claims are true or not.

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