Ways to Distinguish Yourself #212 – Use self-deprecation right

Self-deprecation is simply under-valuing one’s own talent or abilities. It is to show that you have a low opinion of yourself. Generally, it is an indication that you have a low self-esteem. At an extreme it shows that you have an inferiority complex.

This all looks so negative and how could this be remotely of use when you are trying to distinguish yourself.

The trick is to use it right.

If used right, it can be a powerful way to build rapport and get closer to people.


(If used right) self-deprecation brings out the human in you and the other person would rather connect with that “human” than connecting with your “corporate avatar.”

How do you design this?

Here are some areas to think about:

1. Self-deprecate in the past:

For example, You can talk about something foolish you did when you were a student. Everyone has done something foolish when they were young – so they can recollect their own follies.

2. Self-deprecate in your area of strength:

If you are a good negotiator, you can talk about how you goofed up in a negotiating situation. Everyone knows that people goof up even in their area of strengths. That gels well.

3. Self-deprecate in an area where people commonly goof up:

Common gaffes and goofups are accepted and only show that you are just like anyone else.

4. Self-deprecate in an area where you have moved on:

People move on and you can talk about areas that didn’t work well for you decided to move on. You can share the pain and sufferings by going after something that didn’t work for you is something people can relate with.

5. Self-deprecate in an area where you were ignorant:

Like an experience during your first startup. There would be so many things that you would not have known without experiencing it first time. Everyone stumbles on something first time especially if it is something significant you are trying. People understand that and can relate well with it.

Self-deprecation is a sensitive area where I don’t want to point to other examples, so I will share my own story where you will see several attempts of self-deprecation ( yes, I have goofed up a lot! )

Rajesh Setty: The Story So Far…

Photo Courtesy: ktpupp at Flickr