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Techniques > Conversation techniques > Elements of the Conversation > Self-promotion

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



Often conversations contain elements where the main focus is to boost the sense of identity of the person speaking or to otherwise promote their ideas or desires.

Self-promotion is often done by changing the subject to oneself and taking every opportunity to show how you are clever, successful or otherwise important and worthy of admiration. It may also be more subtle, taking fewer but more focused opportunities to gain admiration and approval.


Well talking of money, I have made rather a lot in the last year.

What I think about this is ...

I met the president last week. He said he'd heard about my good work. 


A surprising number of conversations that appear to be general chat are actually about promoting oneself, seeking esteem and building one's own social status.

Conversations are often polite battles where each person is promoting themself and their own views. These can be interesting to watch as there is less an exchange of views and more a duel for attention and approval. They are typified by a competition to speak, with interruptions, steering the conversation and speaking quickly to avoid being interrupted.

There are times when self-promotion is a good idea, for example in job interviews or when you need to build credibility in order to persuade others. When doing so, watch responses carefully: it is very easy to over-do this.

We all promote ourselves to some degree, but some people are so driven by this, they may be given the label of 'self-promoter'.

When others say something about themselves, a self-promoter will often immediately talk about how they have done something similar, but better, bigger, faster and so on. When their ideas are challenged, they will leap to defend them. When they are praised, they bask in the pleasant glow. 

Self-promoters can be easy to persuade when flattery or other ingratiation makes them feel good about themselves. Listen attentively to them. Be impressed by them and their ideas. Then link what you want them to do either directly with their identity or tacitly offer more attention in return for their agreement and collaboration.

See also

Need for identity

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