Friday, December 04, 2020

Should We Self-Promote or Hide Success?

We dislike self-promoters, right?   Is it better to hide our success than shamelessly self-promote?  Many people may think it's appropriate and effective to hide success.  We don't want to seem boastful or arrogant.  Well, perhaps the conventional wisdom may not be correct.  Annabelle Roberts, Emma Levin, and Ovul Sezer have published a fantastic new paper titled "Hiding Success" in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.  

The scholars point out that self-promotion is quite typical these days, yet in their research, they also find that many people hide their successes at times.  Why?  They worry about how others will perceive them if they self-promote too much, or in some inappropriate manner. 

Roberts and her colleagues show that hiding success may have harmful effects on our interpersonal relationships.  They write:

"Unlike hiding other information, hiding success signals that a communicator has paternalistic motives, which targets find insulting.  We find that hiding success has relational costs in public and private settings as well as in response to direct and indirect questions.  Additionally, the negative reactions to hiding success have behavioral consequences:  Targets are less trusting of, less willing to cooperate with, and less willing to devote financial resources to maintaining their relationship with communicators who hide their success." 

In sum, perhaps a lack of transparency can have some significant costs.  That doesn't mean we should be arrogant, or that we should boast repeatedly about our accomplishments.  However, we should take great care about intentionally shielding others from the truth.  Honesty, it appears, is indeed the best policy.  

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