Self-Deprecation Needs to 🛑
Maurice Hayward Feb 26 Updated on Jul 16, 2018
It's common for someone in the tech community to preface themselves or their accomplishments with self-deprecating remarks. For example, Stephanie Hurlburt was trying to give visibility to women who were junior coders by retweeting their technical blog posts.
Stephanie Hurlburt@sehurlburtIf you are a woman who is a junior coder, or an aspiring junior coder, reply to this tweet with a technical blog post you wrote. I'd love to RT it and get it good visibility.
I will not RT blog posts on soft skills or culture. Only tech.
If you don't have one, write me one now.09:39 AM - 01 Dec 2017
Later she noticed:
Stephanie Hurlburt@sehurlburtHalf the women sending me blog posts do it with a self deprecating comment.
It's not hard to just write the title of blog post + link. Self deprecation is a shield. It's a "You can't hurt me by saying my work's bad, because I said it first."
And it will hurt your career. Stop. twitter.com/sehurlburt/sta…02:25 AM - 02 Dec 2017Stephanie Hurlburt @sehurlburt
I very much agree with this. This kind of self-deprecating behavior is ingrained in our industry. Honestly, I think it's almost encouraged because many articles downright romanticize Imposter Syndrome and the Dunning–Kruger Effect.
Self-deprecation is very damaging especially if you are part of an underrepresented and marginalized community. When you're part of an underrepresented and marginalized community a lot of times you are already being undervalued by others when you walk in the room. Your voice isn't viewed as that important. It's sad but it's true. So if you self-depreciate yourself it further weakens your voice.
1. Stop saying these words when describing yourself or your accomplishments. These words are now under BAN 👇
Stephanie Hurlburt@sehurlburtExamples of banned self deprecating comments. 🚫
"My project is..."
- very small/basic/simple
- not that good
- a thing I wrote
- just by a newbie
- something I didn't spend a lot of time/effort on
- not that useful
Just state the topic and let others be the judge.02:43 AM - 02 Dec 2017
2. Really think about the value you bring, then let everybody know.
Whether you're new to tech or experienced, have a CS degree or not, in a career change or no, YOU bring value to the table. Our unique perspectives alone are very valuable.
It's up to you to think about what other value you bring. But once you figure it out, let people know and they will believe you! You're not bragging, You're marketing yourself.
3. Be Proud of Yourself!
Being in the tech industry isn't easy. It took hard work and determination to reach the point that you are at now. Be proud of that!
You submitted a Pull Request, learned a new language/framework, fixed a bug, simplified some documentation, gave a tech talk, wrote a blog post or something else fantastic. Be proud of that!
Proudly tell others what you did! Tell everyone here on dev.to about any of your accomplishments, we will love to hear it and to cheer you on.
Need Some More Advice?
I really enjoyed the following article:
EDIT Another great post on this topic:
EDIT I really appreciated the advice in this comment:
@maurice_hayward My husband and I have this discussion a lot. I always respond with: "We teach people how to treat us." I have seen every issue you raised in your post over and over again. I am 100% sure that you're right but also, I've learned, that you can't think your way into better self esteem, you have to ACT your way into it. Change the responses when you talk about a project. Even when you don't feel like it - force yourself to simply explain it as if you were talking about something that someone else did.
Here's what I know:
It's normal to be afraid and truly courageous people get through the fear by simply doing what's right
There will always be someone smarter than me and someone not as smart as me
My projects won't always be good. They won't always be bad either.
Assuming someone more experienced can judge my work better than me is not always right.
Confidence is built with bricks made of failure.
The will of the universe will never lead you where grace cannot protect you ( my way of not being afraid)
One final thought:
Self-depreciation is a dialogue running in "my" head. Those thoughts are coming from me, not the person I'm talking to. I have no idea what the other person is really going to say or think about anything. I have the power to stop that dialogue because I own it.
And so I did.