Should You Hide Your Accomplishments from Others or Be Open About it?
Mon, April 19, 2021

Should You Hide Your Accomplishments from Others or Be Open About it?


To be successful can mean standing out from your colleagues, family members, friends, and social group. After all, it requires a fair amount of courage to surpass a certain group as there will be that strong pull to stay at an equal level. It is easy to blend right in as long as you stay within the confines of the expected and the average.  Blending in can feel comfortable and standing out can evoke feelings of guilt. Sometimes, because of such unhealthy guilt, one tries to downplay your achievements. They think it is risky to voice their accomplishments because the person in the receiving end may not react favorably.

Sharing life’s victories or keeping them private

New research explored the question of whether one should hide their accomplishments from others or be open about it. Annabelle R. Roberts from the University of North California and the team described “hiding success” as the intentional withholding of positive information about one’s accomplishment. They said that although the reasons for keeping the accomplishments private generally come from a noble place, such that they don’t want the other person to feel distressed or jealous, it can have relational costs in the long run.

Effects of hiding success among close relational partners and acquaintances

For instance, when someone withholds their good fortune, the “target” feels more insulted or less close to the person who hides rather than share their success. It harms their relationship when success is eventually discovered and the other person becomes more suspicious. Second, even if the target never learns about the success of anyone else, they would still feel less connected to that “communicator,” as the researchers call it, while they are hiding their good news.

The person concealing their success is also treating the target as someone who can’t deal with the news. It then becomes problematic when they need to answer a straightforward question, such as “What’s been going on?” or “Did you get the award?” People will feel vexed either way if they learn about the news later. Hiding an achievement can be especially hurtful for closer bonds too.

Finally, the researchers found that jealousy can occur alongside feeling joyful for another person’s achievement or feeling connected to them. A person can be excited for someone and also yearn for the same success to happen to them. Practicing psychologist Holly Parker, Ph.D., who is not involved in the study, encouraged people to permit themselves to open up if they reached a personal milestone. Even if there is not a guarantee that the listener will be supportive or responsive, they still have more to gain by sharing the news than concealing it.



Ways to talk about your accomplishment without sounding a braggart

Mental strength trainer Amy Morin shared that it is okay to share your success as long as you do it humbly and authentically. Here are some tips on how to do it:

1. Emphasize the hard work

Saying “I barely tried” or “Oh, that was easy” sounds arrogant. So, when you’ve accomplished something big, keep the emphasis on the hard work you put in to achieve it. Listeners will respect the triumphs of those who say they worked hard to make their goals happen.

2. Give credit where it’s due

Morin said that similar to acknowledgments in a book, give credit to the team, family, or friends who helped you along the way. While opening up about your success, point out that you are not solely responsible for your success.

3. Don’t belittle others

Put-downs will not elevate your status and will only make you sound mean. So, avoid disparaging remarks and leave the comparisons behind, if you can. For instance, you won first in a marathon. Just say you won but don’t say that the second finisher was a mile behind you.



4. Show gratitude

Emphasize that you don’t think you deserve success because you are a great person. Express your gratitude instead to the people who gave you the opportunity or helped you along the way. Doing so will show that you are down to earth.

5. Focus on the facts instead of self-praise

Instead of saying, “I’m a great leader,” say, “Sales have doubled since I took over the team.” Then, let others interpret the facts. If they conclude that you are indeed an excellent salesperson or leader, you will still appear modest.




Hardest working countries

Across the world, cultural attitudes, socio-economic factors, and workplace laws and conventions influence the number of hours employees are expected to work. According to the World Population Review, people in Mexico work much harder than their neighbors in 2018. Mexican workers clock in 2,148 hours per year at work followed by Costa Rica (2,121 hours), South Korea (1,993), Russia (1,972), Greece (1,956), Chile (1,941), and Israel (1,910.13).

Half or more in 13 of the 21 nations surveyed by the Pew Research Center also believe that most people can succeed if they are willing to work hard. About 81% of people in Pakistan and 77% in the US believe that most people succeed if they work hard. Other nations included in the survey are Britain (57% of respondents say hard work leads to success), Spain (56%), Czech Republic (54%), Poland (48%), France (46%), Italy (43%), and Greece (43%).

However, what do you consider success? It could be a financial or business success, political success, influencing other people, or getting to the top of their profession in arts, science, sports, or culture. In the field of business, for example, people known to be most successful are Cornelius Vanderbilt (amassed a fortune in railroads and shipping), Andrew Carnegie (dominated the US steel industry), J.P.Morgan (built a financial empire based on banking and investment), John D. Rockefeller (gained monopoly power in the production and distribution of oil), and Bill Gates (founder of Microsoft).


Before telling others about your achievement, though, think first the need to tout your success. If you want to make others look inferior or hope to gain admiration from others, it is better not to share. On the contrary, it is also important that you get comfortable with your achievements. So that it will feel less awkward, the key is to talk about your success in a productive manner and feel worthy of such an achievement.