‘Bragging’ is essential to success in workplace, UW researcher says

Scientific literature supports self-promotion is crucial for success in workplace, occupational satisfaction

· Sep 10, 2023 Tweet

Abby Cima/The Badger Herald

Associate dean for clinical trials at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health Dr. Nasia Safdar spoke about “Gracefully Sharing Your Awesomeness with the World” Thursday. Safdar’s talk is part of UWSMPH’s Pathology Grand Rounds series.

Safdar provided insight into the importance of promoting oneself in the workplace with her research to help people thrive at work. But there are many barriers to workplace visibility, so it’s important to implement strategies to encourage self-promotion. 

Safdar said workplace visibility is an important factor for occupational satisfaction and workplace success. Workplace visibility means a person’s work is noticed, acknowledged and awarded. It’s critical to success in the workplace because it creates opportunities for invitations, participation and validation.

“A survey that looked at senior leadership in Silicon Valley showed that visibility is the most important factor in career advancement,” Safdar said.

When someone is recognized for their work, they are more likely the first to come to mind when making decisions about promotions, invitations to major events or new positions. This is because people are more likely to speak highly of and sponsor that person, which helps build a personal brand and can help some feel valued and heard, Safdar said. This also contributes to occupational satisfaction and leads to workplace success.

But many people are uncomfortable with giving themselves credit for their accomplishments, especially women. For example, social penalties like shaming, backlash from peers, cultural norms and ingrained beliefs that they are unworthy pose barriers, Safdar said.

Risk factors, most importantly, such as not provoking jealousy in co-workers and unemployment also pose a significant barrier, according to Safdar.

“In a study among women in the workplace, they were asked to share their accomplishments and they found that women who used their real name tend to downplay their accomplishments while those who used a fake name were able to fully express their accomplishments,” Safdar said.

This means many people, especially women, and their innovative or important ideas go unheard of in the workplace, causing a disadvantage for both the individual and the organization, Safdar said. 

This is especially true in a field like academic medicine, Safdar said, “where ideas are important” on an individual and systemic level.

Safdar said evidence-based strategies can improve workplace visibility and lower the barriers to expressing individual accomplishments. The most prevalent strategy is to “disarm oneself” to improve self-promotion on the individual level.

Disarming oneself includes giving credit to those who created the environment in which a person accomplishes an achievement before crediting oneself, Safdar said. Giving credit to others can make it significantly easier to talk about a person’s accomplishments and improve their workplace visibility.


This article was published Sep 10, 2023 at 8:59 am and last updated Sep 10, 2023 at 4:11 pm


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