We all like to share what we accomplished in life, but the difference between bragging and sharing your success is so small sometimes that it is really easy not to see it.
I often find myself in that situation where I talk with my friends about what I did at work, at the gym, and everything about my social life. I’m open about all those topics, even when it comes to money. And I had a hard time in the past understanding if it is good or bad or if it’s perceived as sharing or bragging, so I understand if you are confused as well.
That’s the reason I decided to write an article about the differences between bragging and sharing, to put things in perspective and show you how the small details make a big difference.
The biggest difference between bragging and sharing
The biggest difference between sharing and bragging is the intent behind them, if the sole purpose of you sharing your success with others is to put you in a better light than you are bragging. If you really think that others will benefit from you sharing your story, it is just that, sharing.
The benefit sometimes is not as clear as we might think. It can be the fact that they will be happy for you and you know they care about your success, but it is very hard to know when you share a story because they will enjoy it and be happy for you, or you want to put yourself in a better light.
Other benefits might be more obvious, like you encouraging them by sharing your story, even in this case you have to really think about them when you are sharing the story, it will influence the tone you are using, the emphasis you are putting on the fact that this story is for them without saying it.
We will discuss other big differences between bragging and sharing later in this article.
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What is bragging?
Bragging is when you talk about something you have done or possess with the sole purpose of impressing the other people around you, so you will look better in their eyes.
I bet we all know those annoying people that like to brag all the time. People can brag about anything, I recently had a discussion with my wife about how people talk with pride about their health issues, (generally not big issues), about how poor they are, how they don’t have anything under their name, and other things like that because for some this is the only way to receive attention and kind of brag about something. I know it sounds weird, but at the same time, I’m pretty sure we all know a few of those kinds of people.
I’m saying this to make you understand that bragging comes in different forms and shapes, and not all of them are as obvious as we think.
6 differences between bragging and sharing
Here are six differences between those two and how to know when you are bragging instead of sharing, those helped me a lot, and I hope they will help you be a nicer person around your friends and family.
1. It’s all about you.
When we brag about something we have or did, we rarely put the focus on other people that are involved in that story. Of course, it’s our life and our story that we share, but there are not as many things that we accomplish alone without someone else being involved.
When we brag we talk a lot about our effort, all the work we have done, and all the things we accomplished, not about the context.
Example: You’ve bought a new car, and now you have two options when you talk with your friends.
a) Let them know how great you are, how much you deserve that car for your hard work in the last years, and how you made the best decision to buy that specific car because you know a good car when you see one.
b) Talk about why you decided to buy a car, who else helped get the money for the car(your partner, your parents, etc.), and how the guy at the representation helped you choose a good one.
We can see a clear difference between those two, and both of them are letting your friends or family know that you bought a new car.
2. Bragging is about how good you are, while sharing is about facts
Sharing is about factual details, yea, sometimes a lot of those details are about you, but if you don’t cherry-pick them to show how great you are, most people will know that you are not bragging.
If you share the whole story as it is, then it’s fine. Bragging is when you share a story that might be true but you cherry-pick the parts when you look good and kind of avoid the other parts, like posting on social media, one could say.
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3. Ask permission to tell a story or see if they are interested.
A humble person that really wants to share a story with others usually asks permission or at least pays attention to others to know if they would be interested.
Usually, it’s a question like”do you want to hear about x?”, it is a rhetorical question most of the time since it will not be refused, but the fact that you care if they want to hear about your story makes a difference. This is also a double edge sword since it can be used aggressively to change the topic into a topic that will make you look better.
In my opinion, asking permission to tell a story is not always necessary or easy to do but checking if the people you are talking to are interested in the topic is mandatory before talking for several minutes about something you have done.
4. Talking about the bad parts or the parts in which you don’t look as good
When you share a story with your friends, you should talk about all the relevant parts of the story, even if you don’t look so good in some of them.
That doesn’t mean that you have to go into too many details to make it boring. However, if a part of the story is important, but you don’t look as good in that part, you should not avoid it on purpose.
5. Ask others’ opinions and give them chances to intervene
We all hate those people that seem impossible to interrupt when talking about them. The best way to not brag is to ask the people you are talking to about their opinion or give them chances to intervene in the story and let you know what they see things.
Making the discussion more interactive helps prevent people from perceiving you as bragging.
6. Not comparing to others
One big red flag to check if someone is bragging or is just sharing a story is to see if they are comparing themself to others, especially if they end up being better than others.
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There are clear differences between bragging and sharing, I hope the ones that I covered here will help you realize when you are bragging or when other people or bragging and what that means.
An extra tip at the end, saying “I don’t mean to brag” doesn’t help if all you do is brag.
Saying I don’t mean to brag and talking only about how good you are is like saying “Respectfully” than you insult the person you are talking with.