Words You Shouldn’t Be Using To Describe Yourself


I recently attended an event where they asked all participants to write down one adjective to depict themselves. Some people were quick to write down something, while others turned to their neighbor to get their opinion. It was interesting to see what others were quick to call someone else, and how it differed from their own opinion. Let’s give it a try. Think of a few words that you would use to describe yourself. What comes to mind – committed, reliable, awesome? Now, turn to the person closest to you, what did they say? Did it coincide with what you said?

Picking a few choice words to describe your best qualities is harder than it sounds. If you sing yourself high praise, it could leave people thinking you’re full of it, whereas if you are too vague, you tend to sell yourself short. When in an interview or at a public event, it is difficult to come across as an unpretentious, yet stand-out professional due to the words you are using to label yourself.

According to lists found across the blogging platforms, there are a few words that are great when used by others to describe you, but that you shouldn’t be using to describe yourself. So in an effort to find a balance of modesty and arrogance, take note of these words to leave out of your personal portrayals.

Generous – Most people who are truly generous don’t actually consider themselves to be generous since they’re usually thinking they could always be doing more. Showcase your caring nature through your actions instead.

Humble – Literally the definition of this word is to show a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance. Just by calling yourself it, you prove that you are not.

Honest – Society likes to assume most people are generally honest, most of the time. If you have to state to people this is one of your “special” qualities, red flags start going off. Just count this one as a given.

Other off-limit adjectives that popped up on some lists included self-disciplined, passionate, witty/funny, empathetic, fearless, adaptable, and independent.

Instead, try using some of these positive personality adjectives and think long and hard about what you intend to convey. — Loyal — Punctual — Motivated — Organized — Outgoing — Communicative

Just remember that there is a fine line between being confident and being conceited. We all have to learn how to walk that line with ease and professionalism.

So whether in an interview or at a social event, when asked how you describe yourself, take a good portion of humble pie and leave it to others to sing your praises.

Sources: http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/10-words-you-should-never-use-to-describe-yourself.html http://work.chron.com/5-words-describe-during-interview-3790.html http://gregsavage.com.au/2014/07/29/10-words-you-must-never-use-to-describe-yourself/

The Culture Counts blog is a discussion of law firm culture and legal innovation, including topics such as effective leadership, employee engagement, workplace culture, ideal work environment, company core values, and workplace productivity.  

Sign up for and explore our content and thought leadership here.

About the Firm:

Klemchuk LLP is a litigation, intellectual property, transactional, and international business law firm dedicated to protecting innovation. The firm provides tailored legal solutions to industries including software, technology, retail, real estate, consumer goods, ecommerce, telecommunications, restaurant, energy, media, and professional services. The firm focuses on serving mid-market companies seeking long-term, value-added relationships with a law firm. Learn more about experiencing law practiced differently and our local counsel practice.

The firm publishes Intellectual Property Trends (latest developments in IP law), Conversations with Innovators (interviews with thought leaders), Leaders in Law (insights from law leaders), Culture Counts (thoughts on law firm culture and business), and Legal Insights (in-depth analysis of IP, litigation, and transactional law).