Successful self-promotion (when appropriate.)

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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-1998
Successful self-promotion (when appropriate.)
Sat, 10-13-2012 - 12:14pm

Do those of you with older kids know how to market themselves? I ask because DD 15 is struggling with this. I'm sure much of this is totally normal but I'm also wondering if it's a trap gifted kids fall into after a childhood of downplaying and keeping accomplishments under wraps.

A friend was involved in a recent interview and said that while DD's passion came through and her resume and references are outstanding, she was actively dissmissive of her experiences and accomplishments.... if she'd talk about them at all. "Wow" items on her resume turn into "no big deal" because DD sells them as such. It's confusing to the interviewers. I witnessed this during her middle college interview last spring (that I had to sit in as well.) She sold her schooling career as one of mediocrity. Even her friends have commented on her inability to network in the theatre community... a position she's now regularly in. 

Could it be a total disconnect with what is typical achievement for a girl her age? She says it never occurs to her to talk about past experiences and that they could ever be relevant to current conversation.

We'll do more role-playing and I'm sure experience will help but it seems a lot of kids we are around have no problems taking credit for their accomplishments at appropriate times. Some of the colleges she's looking at have an interview process and I'm hoping we can improve her in this area before they start up next fall.

Just curious about how other gifted teens/young adults are fairing in this arena.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-18-2005
Sat, 10-13-2012 - 9:39pm

Honestly, I think self-promotion and other social skills are so important in one's ultimate success in life, much more so than intelligence.  It's the total difference between really successful brilliant people and my good friends who are geniuses, but who live with their cats and have trouble holding jobs or getting out of dead end ones.  I'm so-so at that stuff, but am trying to coach dc in such things as much as I can.  That, and good self-discipline skills are key.

Gwen<A href="http://s218.photobucket

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2001
Mon, 10-15-2012 - 2:13pm

My oldest is not great at this either, and some of it is because to them it is really no big deal.  She probably doesn't get that how her mind works or what she has accomplished is pretty special.  She may be more likely to look at what she hasn't done and set the bar unreasonably high.

Some of it is personality.  There are kids that have no problem tooting their own horn or even embellishing their accomplishments.  Then there are those of us who are "yes, but".  Yes, I did X but I didn't do Y.  Or Yes I got the top score, but no big deal. 

I think you are on the right track - lots of practice and role play.  She is an actress, perhaps she can "act" like someone that brags about their accomplishments.  Or when asked what is her "bad" quality, state that she downplays her accomplisments.

I would also enlist her guidance counselor or a trusted teacher to help her understand how critical it is to be able to sell herself and the best way to interivew.   If she is going for theater programs or to elite colleges, this could be very important.  That being said, I think colleges do understand that some kids are just not good at this and would hopefully take this into account.  I think with the college seeing the entire package, having a humble, yet personable kid to interview may be beneficial. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-17-2004
Wed, 10-17-2012 - 9:30am

I think promoting one's talents is a social risk type thing.  The people that are most socially risk adverse downplay their successes.  It is great that you are working with her on it.  It is amazing how much we hold ourselves back in work and in life.  This is a form of holding herself back.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-1998
Fri, 10-26-2012 - 1:00pm

I think there are a combination of factors here. They don't want to incite jealousy, a very real problem, more so for girls, I think, than boys, where a little bragging is more socially acceptable. But I also think that if everything comes easily, kids really don't think they're special because they haven't had to try that hard. Achieving in some areas may be as natural as breathing.

I probably won't explain this next bit very well, but I also think that because gifted people tend to be very keen observers of their society, they don't want to fall into the "reality tv" trap, where everyone seems to want fame for themselves. They want their achievements to be real, so they downplay the ones they feel just "happened" to them.

Finally, I think there's a perfectionism at work in some gifted kids, too. My daughter routinely tells people she "sucks' at math because she has to work harder to learn it, yet she is acing her AP Calculus class and did very well on the math SAT. But because it was her lowest score of the three segments, she tells everyone she did "okay" on it.

As she goes through the college application process, we are trying to help her bring out the achievements that actually mean something to her, even if there are others that may look better to others, because these are the things she can be passionate about in her college interviews.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-13-1999
Sat, 10-27-2012 - 1:49pm

I don't have much to add to the excellent points everyone else has made, I really just wanted to agree.   Some of this is giftedness, some is gender-based, some of it is personality, and some of it is self-preservation--as ashmama pointed out it's easy to incite jealousy and repercussions by self-promoting. 

We, as a family, are terrible at self-promotion.  I admit, while I really enjoy watching people take pride in their accomplishments, I'm almost allergic to hearing people brag endlessly about themselves...or their kids.  It's one reason I really like this board :)  

I did worry that I imparted this attitude to my girls.  My husband's attitude also gets in the way: he believes that if a person is really all that extraordinary, others will recognize it without being told.  He knows this isn't true but it's how he was raised and he continues to follow that prescription against his own conscious knowledge that it's a mistaken belief.  Unfortunately, I think my girls have absorbed our attitudes too well.  The good side is that they really appreciate the gifts of others.  The bad side is that they do not see their own qualities.  My middle dd is exceptionally self-deprecating.  She  just spent a miserable few weeks thinking that she'd done so badly on a thesis draft that her advisor was now treating her differently.  She got it back with glowing comments and was stunned.  My youngest thinks she's not good at violin, math, writing, or sports no matter what she achieves, no matter what feedback she gets.   Of my three, she's the hardest on herself by far and it's a real concern.  There's a blend of perfectionism, tentative temperament (those who speak with great confidence intimidate her) and parental influence :( at work here.   

I think that role-playing is the way to go and I agree with singrogre that acting the part may be what helps here for your dd, turtletime.  I also think that some of her accomplishments really speak for themselves and all you have to do is to counsel her not to  add the downplaying part.  That may be easier, at least as a first step, than forcing her to go one step beyond and self-promote. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-27-2000
Thu, 11-01-2012 - 1:40pm

DS (14) is not great at this either.  But I know that part of the reason is his aversion to others tooting their own horns too loudly.  Do you think she has seen others sort of brag about their accomplishments and, at some point, made a decision never to come across that way?  Maybe the result is that she tones down too much.

Last year, DS's video game design team took 1st in state and placed high at nationals.  The dad of one team member works that into practically every conversation.  As a result, DS probably will never ever bring that up in an interview, even if it would be appropriate, because he is so afraid of sounding pompous and ridiculous when, in the grand scheme of things, it's not all that important.