[Myth #3] If I minimize my work, I’ll be more likeable and get promoted

Since I was little, I was taught by society to minimize and diminish myself and my contributions at each opportunity.

If they’d say “You’re intelligent”, the answer was “I work hard”. To a professor telling me “Great work, Patricia”, I’d replied, “It was easy”. Even to somebody praising how well a dress looked in me, I’d learned to reply “Really? It was not really that expensive”.

And this pattern of diminishing my contributions and work continued through my early career. I felt the “right” answer to somebody acknowledging I had done great work was something like “It's nothing”, “Anyone could have done it...", or “Thanks but…”.

I also learn to caveat my comments with “I’m not an expert”, even if I was, because I internalised that otherwise I won’t be liked.

What’s the problem with that?

I’ll answer with another question: How are you going to build a case for your promotion if you keep minimizing your contribution during the year? You cannot spend 365 days deflecting every praise on your work and then pitch during the annual review that you’ve done outstanding work.

Here is the remedy:

When somebody compliments your work, simply reply "Thank you" or even better, stress what it was the most difficult part". E.g. "Thanks. It entailed non-negligible strategic thinking/collaboration among teams/risk-taking. I'm glad to hear the project/initiative/presentation met your high standards ".

How does this myth resonate with you?