A Reminder About the Power of Self-Deprecation

I was reminded today about the power of self-deprecation when used effectively. An excerpt from Clinton & Me that I blogged about last October:

Self-depreciation is one of the most effective tools for leaders who want people to like and trust them, it communicates strength and grounding. Most people’s public personae are made up of 2-12 simple, widely known facts. If you concede the obvious you’re conceding nothing, but you gain back credibility. That’s a trade you should make every time.

What are the 2-12 simple, widely known facts that make up your persona? Maybe in the long run you want to change those perceptions, but in the meantime, how can you leverage it to your advantage? When I started realizing that people thought I could be arrogant at times, since I tend to over-intellectualize a lot, I first pushed back. I didn’t want to accept that perception. Now, I’ve mastered the tone of voice, body language, and specific lines to make a joke during situations when people may think I’m being arrogant (or even when I am!). By lightening the mood at my own expense, I gain credibility and my image improves in the eyes of others.

One Response to A Reminder About the Power of Self-Deprecation

  1. Elena Butler says:

    This is really interesting because as a girl, I’ve been told that I should never put myself down, at least not if I want to be a strong woman. I still do it all the time, so I’m glad to see an article to justify my habit. Then again, I think there’s a difference between making fun of perceived arrogance (which I do too), and attacking a good quality, like intelligence, even if such a comment may increase your appeal to the masses. Not acting pretentious is one thing, but saying “Ugh, I am so bad at math” is more psychologically destructive than socially productive. (And I have the research to prove it, now if only I could sit down and write the paper.)

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