Bragging Etiquette: Success Vs. Winner

Being humble, using discretion, refraining from re-bragging, and sharing knowledge without self-promotion are some of the best ways to appropriately brag.



Bragging is when an entity (such as a person, group, or organization) publicizes personal accomplishments with the intent of raising it’s personal value, legitimacy, market share, or attractiveness in the views and/or minds of the audience. Yes, advertising is bragging when properly executed.


Success is the result of an entity achieving a personal goal. The impact and size of the goal is insignificant as long as the goal is reached. Success is dependent on internal goal setting and internal measures of accomplishment.


The result of being presented with and adversarial challenge, recognizing the adversity, formulating a plan to overcome the adversarial obstacle, and demonstrating the strength to overcome the challenge is winning. Winning is dependent upon an external challenge or impediment and the ability to demonstrate the abilities to conquer the challenge or obstacle.

Bragging Etiquette

This post will only focus on major bragging and not micro-bragging such as the humble brag or passive-aggressive brag. The intent is not to publish formal guide to the etiquette of bragging; however, this post does serve as a foundation from which one can build appropriate bragging skillsets. Bragging is not totally socially unacceptable and knowing the difference between appropriate bragging and inappropriate bragging is critical in this world of heightened awareness of self-worth and interpersonal politeness.

Winner Bragging

When an entity “wins” at something it means they have overcome an external obstacle and naturally should be proud of the victory. There is no fault in being proud of enduring s challenge and overcoming it. An issue only arises when this victory is publicized in a nature that promotes the greatness of the winner to external parties.

The Issue

This type of bragging is abrasive because the external parties are either already aware of the win or may perceive the bragging to indicate the winner is diminishing the perceived capabilities of the external entities without consideration of fact or truth.

Proper Etiquette

The proper etiquette is for the winner to enjoy the spoils of the win instead of the attention of the victory. If the winner chooses to share the spoils of the win limited bragging is permitted during the length of the shared spoils. Likewise, if the winner wishes to use the win as an opportunity to share knowledge the winner should not bring attention to its own greatness while passing the knowledge to recipients. Being humble in victories is essential.

Success Bragging

When an entity sets an internal goal and achieves that goal it has reached success. The Issue that arises is when the internal goals seem to be trivial or success are too frequent.

The Issue

This type of bragging is fully engrained in most cultures as demonstrated through examples such as graduation ceremonies, weddings, licenses to operate vehicles, and baby showers. Despite the engrained nature, if the bragging appears to be based on trivial successes or are occurring too frequently for the recipients of the bragging it becomes corrosive.

Proper Etiquette

The proper etiquette for the achiever is to limit the bragging to specific groups and specific accomplishments. For instance, graduating from college is considered appropriate bragging; whereas, bragging every time a college course has been completed successfully is not appropriate. When it comes to success bragging limit the audience to those whom have a personal interest in the success. For instance, it would be appropriate to brag to colleague about passing a specifically difficult career-related exam but inappropriate to brag to a personal physician. Success bragging should be limited to one brag per person per achievement, reiterating a brag is rude.


Winner bragging focusses on external conflict snd victories and has highly limited venues of acceptability. Success bragging is focused on internal improvement and is generally more widely accepted. Whether it be winner bragging or success bragging the key is in knowing how to use bragging appropriately as a tool. Being humble, using discretion, refraining from re-bragging, and sharing knowledge without self-promotion are some of the best ways to appropriately brag.