Is there a word that is a positive form of "brag"? Say I want a timid colleague to talk more about their achievements, I don't want to tell them to brag or boast about them as that makes it seem like a negative thing.

How could I frame it as something positive? For example in this sentence: "You should ... about what you've done when we have the meeting"

  • You've already answered your own question: "Talk more about your achievements when we have the meeting." The point being that when there has been no talking about said achievements thus far, any discussion of it is an improvement. – Chellspecker May 21 '16 at 19:35
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    You could suggest they take pride in what they have achieved and not be afraid to talk about it. For the accomplished communicator there are techniques which can get the message of your achievements across whilst shrouding them in expressions of self-deprecation. But it requires a skill which is not acquired in five minutes. – WS2 Jul 5 '16 at 16:36

13 Answers 13


For your specific case consider highlight: "You should highlight what you've done when we have the meeting." Strictly speaking, the verb merely denotes accentuating or emphasizing. However, positive connotations carry over from the usage of this word as a noun.


I think brag is good enough, if you use it in the right context.

There are terms like bragging rights (a positive thing). I've been prompted before (in an interview, and on my Google+ profile a while back) to brag about something--the asker simply wants to know of achievements or cool things that I've done, and is using the term brag to ask for them.

Consider these sentences:

Go ahead and brag about your achievements!

It's okay to brag about [something].

I don't think they sound negative at all. The only way it sounds negative to me is if you accuse someone of bragging.

(this all goes for American English as I see it)


"You should speak up about what you've done when we have the meeting"

speak up, according to Cambridge Dictionaries Online

to give your opinion about something in public, especially on a subject that you have strong feelings about.

The shy person the OP is encouraging must have strong opinions about the worth of what he/she has done.

Collins defines speak up as:

to state one's beliefs, objections, etc, bravely and firmly


I agree, highlight seems like a good option. Also consider don't be shy or call attention to.

You shouldn't be shy about what you've done when we have the meeting.

You should call attention to your accomplishments when we have the meeting.

Don't forget to mention/underline what you've done when we have the meeting.


I can think of a few: bold, confident, proclaim, or to list qualifiers like how you'd sell yourself at a job interview, you're not bragging you're just listing what makes you the right choice. A good phrase would be to "own it"


Tell your reserved colleague to act self-confidently and be positive.

self-confident: trusting in one's abilities, qualities, and judgment/judgement.

Oxford Dictionaries

When one possesses poise and confidence, their ideas and accomplishments tend to be viewed more highly.

  1. Be proud of what you have done, and sell your achievements in the meeting.

For a more light-hearted approach, the OP could say

Strut your stuff: If it's good enough for Forbes it's good enough for the workplace. And strutting one's stuff is about positivity and possessing self-confidence in one's abilities.

sell (PERSUADE) [T] to persuade someone that an idea or plan is a good one and likely to be successful:
Cambridge Dictionaries

  • Also, 'assertive' gets used a lot in a business context. – Steve Cooper May 20 '16 at 21:34
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    @SteveCooper True, I had thought about that too. Assertiveness is a synonym of self-confidence. :) – Mari-Lou A May 20 '16 at 21:39

I would say "highlight" is close. In this context highlight would mean they should make their accomplishments prominent.

You should highlight what you've done when we have the meeting.

Highlighting and bragging about accomplishments are both forms of self-promotion. The negative connotation of bragging is that it's defined as "excessive".


I also think to brag could be used in a positive way depending on your tone. But I would be a little reluctant to use it in your example sentence.

You could consider using "tell it like it is" which means:

to tell the complete, unadulterated truth; be forthright

I am not saying to brag is synonymous with to tell a lie, but it has a connotation of saying something in a pompous way. To tell it like it is or to state (tell) the truth means to describe what happened without sounding too boastful.



My manager once told me that "If you don't toot your own horn nobody else will." He was referring to an improvement I had made at work that my supervisor had (ahem) 'forgotten' to give me credit for, an omission that was corrected in my annual performance review only because I spoke up and mentioned it to my manager.


You probably need to clarify your culture. British English has no acceptable word for bragging, I would say. :)

'to tell' works ok, though, and is very neutral;

You should tell people about what you've done when we have the meeting


I would suggest (publicly) acknowledge or publicize. They both suggest an acceptance of contribution, but in the sense of distribution of a fact or truth for the sake of it, instead of doing it with the purpose of inflating one's ego. In any case, highlight is a great one.


"I encourage you to take full credit for your achievements when we have the meeting."

It indicates a non-boastful level of ownership of said achievements, and also avoids telling your co-worker what they should or shouldn't do, which no one appreciates.


I suggest "market". "You should really market your achievements better at the next meeting". I actually heard it being used by my boss, though informally. http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/market_2

  • Why the negative vote, I wonder! – alwayslearning Jul 3 '16 at 18:51

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