How you deal with show-off people in academia? — R Voice

How you deal with show-off people in academia?

Lafi Munira
Lafi Munira Member Posts: 3 ✭✭✭


It's summer here in Bangkok, I would like to ask your opinion about how you deal/cope if you have friends in academia that are very like to show off?. I just find it makes feel annoyed since past months ago, when they are like to show to all lecturer that they are doing great (in my opinion it's just so-so), and they like to tell people their update work, such as "Hi, I just submitted in Q1-Q2 journals, I submit 3 publications already, you know from my master thesis I can produce 3 publications!", Gosh, I think it's too much. I found other Ph.D. students who are diligent and smart also but they rarely talk about their achievements or success stories. What do you think?


Lafi :D


  • Raj sundaram
    Raj sundaram Member Posts: 322 ✭✭✭✭
    edited April 2021

    🤣@Lafi Munira

    I think you might want to simply think about why they flaunt. I used to get hurt with all this because I was absolutely failing...really a researcher at one point without support. I was surrounded by people flaunting success and it hurt really badly, my own confidence was at rock bottom, and I was not really respected and people thought I was incompetent. I was very insecure. (It was natural for me to feel so then...)

    These days, having climbed up from the chasm, now with a profile I'm sort of proud of and kind of satisfied with (even though it's not great by external standards or my own former ambitions) and a tad wiser to base my self worth less on "successful outcomes"....when I come across people who talk about their success, I simply congratulate them. Or if it is too much on the face sort of bragging, I let them speak and respond with...

    "Is that so. Good for you"🙃

    I don't harbour much bad feelings because its not worth it for myself, I feel. And these are not real friends, never going to be real friends, probably (not my type of people, generally) and I'm not going to collaborate closely with such people in all probability (once again, not my type). But they are peers...and better to keep an open but distant relationship for future purposes.

    Why people flaunt...

    Here are some reasons.

    1. Hypercompetitiveness in academia makes people... especially upcoming researchers...really insecure. And they feel forced or are unconsciously conditioned to base their worth majorly on their achievements or those "right on the horizon".

    2. In some cases, people are bumbling around..trying to follow popular advice - "be your own advocate", "celebrate your success", "be/act/appear confident (fake it till you make it)", "promote yourself...only then opportunities will open up".

    And for those with little social/soft skills, this "promoting oneself" crosses what is socially acceptable modesty to socially unacceptable flaunting...

    (IMO, many academics have poor social skills naturally because a lot of us work alone. Are perpetually stressed. A lot of us are not as good as the general population in terms of interpersonal skills, I think 😉).

    Plus what is socially acceptable and the level of self promotion required to survive and thrive varies from culture to culture.

    In some cultures, this bragging is rewarded. For instance, I've seen this in the US...amidst very competitive environments, this behaviour (alphaness) is almost expected especially from men (white) if they are to "succeed" and be "respected" by peers. (If a woman, colored person, people who are "different" the same, they are dubbed aggressive. Totally different ballgame🤣). Also, modesty/lack of self promotion, is mistaken for lack of confidence, worse competence!

    Also, in academia...peer respect is very important. And once again, bragging is an unfortunate - perhaps, misguided attempt to gain "respect".🙃

    I think we all live in a world that requires self promotion in one way or other to get access to opportunities, survive, etc. Facebook, LinkedIn...we are all in a beauty pageant. Sort of. 😉

    3. Perhaps, their "role models" - mentors/supervisors have this habit. And it is embedded in their lab culture. It is not uncommon in academia to see the successful with a god complex. 🤣

  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 710 admin

    @Lafi Munira this is quite a sensitive topic to bring up (in my opinion) and I want to thank you for posing this question to the community. I feel like we're always bound to come across people who brag, not just in academia but in other aspects of our lives as well. And while I can't comment much on why people brag, I'd like to offer a perspective on how you could possibly cope with it. This mainly comes from my belief in the fact that we can never control how people behave or act, but there's a lot we can do to control how we feel and respond. 🙂

    I want to start by saying that bragging could negatively affect any one of us. We're all human at the end of the day and as much as we'd like to not, we tend to second-guess our own abilities and question what we're doing with our lives when we hear about a friend/colleague's success. And frankly, it could also be annoying, especially if you're someone who doesn't like to boast about achievements.

    At times like these, I find it most helpful to try and remember that another person's success is in no way my failure and that there's absolutely no need for me to take this bragging personally (if that makes sense 😃). It's also important to try and understand that they might just be sharing a piece of news that they're extremely happy about, with no intention of hurting or offending you. Different people are vastly different when it comes to sharing successes and talking about achievements -- I've realized that as long as I'm confident about where I am, what I'm doing, and the direction in which I'm progressing, then I have no reason to feel anything negative and can in fact be happy for said person. Like I said before, dealing with something like this got a lot easier when I stopped try to fix things outside of me and started focusing on how I could change my own responses and the way I feel about certain things.

    Just this morning, I read two lines which I think are very relevant here - "Comparison is the thief of joy. You are enough exactly as you are." I hope that you find this at least a little helpful. 🤗

  • Jayashree Rajagopalan
    Jayashree Rajagopalan Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 262 admin

    @Lafi Munira - what an interesting situation you mentioned. From my own experience, this is not new in any walk of life. And in academia, I am sure hearing someone constantly brag about what (all) or how much they have done can get really annoying to deal with. One of my childhood friends was an all-round achiever. She would constantly, literally, praise herself and talk about how good looking, clever, and perfect she was and how I hadn't half as many accolades as she did. And since I didn't the maturity to be indifferent to this, I was really put off by this behavior and this made me feel like I am good for nothing - my confidence took a bad hit. I can imagine anyone feeling annoyed by someone who constantly talks about their achievements. Now I know that the right thing to do is take a step back and think about it from their POV - maybe they need this validation, and their achievement won't color mine. Hey @Raj sundaram - I like your take on this. You've brought up very relevant background details about these situations. Lafi, in my view, this may also happen when someone wants the attention to be on them, or when they feel the need to be recognized more, or when they feel insecure about their position among their peers/colleagues. Or, they are simply really happy about their achievement and MUST talk about it to enjoy the glory of that moment. And the kind of personal, academic, and professional environment an individual is surrounded by could play a huge role in how they accept, share, and celebrate their own achievements as well as those of their peers.