How to Be Modest

Three Parts:Avoiding Showing OffMaking Others Feel GoodLooking Modest

You don't have to be overly shy, quiet, or saintly to be modest. You simply have to avoid showing off and know how to make other people feel good about who they are. And along with being modest, you'll be pegged as a good listener and down-to-earth to boot!

Part 1
Avoiding Showing Off

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    Don't brag about your accomplishments to everyone in your orbit. The first rule to being modest is to avoid bragging -- even if you've done something great. Maybe you finished the New York Marathon, maybe you got a new promotion, or maybe you just closed on an amazing new house. These are all great things and you should be proud of what you've done, but being modest is all about not showing off. You can share your successes if they come up, but don't rub them in anyone's face.
    • If someone mentions your new neighborhood, you can say, "I'm actually moving there next month." You don't have to say, "I just closed on an amazing new ten bedroom house with a sauna and a wine cellar."
    • Running the New York Marathon is great. Be proud of what you did and don't be embarrassed to talk about it if it comes up. But don't say, "I beat almost everyone in my age group" or "It was so easy that I took a lap around Central Park after I crossed the finish line."
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    Share your achievements only with the people who really care. You don't have to keep your successes completely to yourself to be modest. You just have to pick and choose who would really care about what you have to say, who really supports you, and who is really close to you and rooting for you to succeed. Maybe it's only your spouse, your mother, your best friend, or your small circle of friends. That's fine. It's better to tell one person who really cares than to brag to ten people who couldn't care less.
    • If you got a new promotion, don't brag to your other co-workers or you'll look like a jerk. But tell your spouse and family -- they'll be proud of you.
    • If you closed on a house, celebrate with your family and the close friends who will be hanging out there.
    • If you ran your personal best in a marathon, tell your running buddies -- they'll be proud of you.
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    Avoid talking about how much money you have. Talking about how rich you are, how much money you have, how much money you will have, how big of a raise you've got, or just anything that has to do with your general wealth is not modest. Talking about how much money you have makes you look self-obsessed and just plain annoys other people. You may be proud of the money you've earned, if you've earned it, and you can share your wealth with your family or anyone you support, but that does not mean perfect strangers will be happy to hear about your fat wallet.
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    Don't discuss your ten most amazing qualities. If you want to be modest, then don't mention how beautiful, awesome, smart, clever, outgoing, or whatever it is you are unless you want to be seriously annoying. Saying things like, "I know I'm a good looking guy" or "I know more about literature than anyone in this room" is just flat-out annoying, even if you really think these things are true.
    • If you have great qualities, then other people will notice them and will point out how amazing you are.
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    Don't put yourself down too much, either. This may be confusing. First you're told not to build yourself up, but then you're told not to put yourself down? What gives? While you should avoid bragging about how amazing you are, if you put yourself down too much, then people will think you're putting on an act just so someone will stop and tell you how great you are.
    • If you say, "I'm the dumbest person in this class. I'll never get anything right," then people may think you just want to be told that you're one of the smartest.
    • If you say, "I'm really terrible at..." people may think that you're purposefully saying that because you want to hear the opposite. This only works for things that you're pretty sure you're good at, of course.
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    Practice humility. Being humble is a part of being modest. To be humble, you have to accept your limitations and know that there is a beautiful, infinite, complicated world out there and that you are not its master. Be in awe of nature, your surroundings, your mentors, and the world at large and see that you really aren't the best, brightest, hottest person who ever walked on the Earth.
    • Volunteer. This will make you appreciate how much you have to be thankful for.
    • Acknowledge your faults. Truly humble people know that they aren't perfect.
    • Admit that you're not the best at everything. You may think you are...but you're wrong.
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    Don't share too much about your amazing relationship. Sure, you're on cloud nine with your new love affair, but does that mean that Lula, your sixty-year-old coworker who is going through a painful divorce, has to hear all about it? Keep the most special parts of your love to yourself instead of posting a million pictures of you making out with your special someone on Facebook, showing off the new necklace he gave you, or just talking about how you are so in love.
    • Unfortunately, many people out there are in unhappy relationships or are unhappy being single. There's no need to rub your happiness in their faces. In fact, that cheapens it.

Part 2
Making Others Feel Good

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    Be aware of what you're worth in front of others. Studies show that to be modest, you have to be aware of how your accomplishments and qualities stack up in front of others. Only then can you realize that you have a lot to be thankful for and that you shouldn't go around making other people feel bad about it. If you know you look like a runway model, then don't complain about your stringy hair to other people; if you know you're the most talented actor in your studio, then don't talk about how insecure you feel.[1]
    • Write down the things you're good at. Be realistic -- how do you really stack up against others? Sure, you may not be completely happy in your career, relationship, or friendships, but think about how much you already have going for you.
    • A lot of people are immodest because they don't realize how good they have it. They don't realize that they are bragging or complaining about the wrong thing because they may not see that they are better off than others.
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    Realize what others have before you open your mouth. This has to do with knowing your audience. Make sure that you are not accidentally annoying or hurting other people with your careless comments. If you're in a great relationship, don't give your best friend all of the details if she's upset about not being able to find the right guy; if you're only having a minor setback at work, don't tell your unemployed brother all about it unless you want him to feel terrible.
    • Before you talk about something that is going great, or relatively not-so-great, in your life, look at who you're talking to. How is this person doing professionally or personally, and how would your statements make him feel?
    • When you're talking to people you barely know, you should be even more discreet. Don't brag to someone when you have no idea where he is even coming from.
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    Don't dominate a conversation. Immodest people are comfortable with talking the whole time, completely taking over a conversation, and often talking about themselves. Who wants to hear all about YOU 24/7? Most likely, nobody at all. It's okay to chime in or to take over when you have something interesting to say, but if you can't seem to not let a conversation flow in your direction and start cutting people off to discuss what you have been up to, then you're lacking in the modesty department.
    • If you're just hanging out with another person, try to maintain a 50-50 balance so both of you have a say.
    • If you're in a large group, wait for at least a few people to speak in between speaking yourself.
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    Compliment other people. Part of being modest is recognizing the strengths of other people. If you're not modest, then you probably don't even realize that other people have so much to offer because you're so focused on you, you, you all the time. So, the next time you're hanging out with people, give them genuine compliments that show that you've put some thought into who they really are.
    • You can even compliment something small, like a friend's new shirt or piece of jewelry.
    • You can also compliment a person's personality trait. Say, "You're just so hardworking," or "You're such a good listener."
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    Give others credit for your achievements. Let's say you wrapped up an amazing project at work, but you did it with the help of others. When your boss thanks you for your killer work, what do you say? "I know, I worked my butt off!" Absolutely not. Instead, you say, "I couldn't have done it without Sarah and Michael. They were so helpful." This shows that you're aware of the hard work that others do and that you don't want to take all the credit for someone else's hard work.
    • This can go beyond the workplace. If someone compliments you on your hard work in math class, you can say that you wouldn't have been able to get such good grades if your best friend didn't run over the concepts with you.
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    Disagree without making people feel bad. Being modest doesn't mean agreeing with what everyone says all of the time. But it does mean that you should know how to disagree with people without making them feel bad. If you just say, "You're wrong!" or "Let me tell you how it really is..." then people will think that you're stubborn, full of yourself, and not willing to listen to what other people have to say. Instead, have an open mind, and know how to state your opinion.
    • Say something inoffensive like, "Maybe it's just me..." instead of violently disagreeing.
    • Even if you completely disagree with someone, you should say things like, "I can see your side of it" or "I've never thought about it that way before." Don't make people feel bad unless you want them to think you're stuck up.
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    Thank people for all of their help. Saying "thank you" and showing gratitude can go a long way in making you look modest. If you're modest, then you should be thankful for all of the people who make your life better and who are there to support and help you no matter what. Make sure these people know how much they mean to you and that you remember to always thank them for what they do--or just because.
    • Get in the habit of saying "thank you" as much as you can, whether you're talking to your best friend or your repairman.
    • Elaborate. Say, "thank you for helping me redecorate my house. I couldn't have done it without you."
    • Get in the habit of writing thank-you cards. They can help you express gratitude.
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    Accept compliments with grace. Another part of being modest is to know how to accept a true compliment. Don't say, "That's not true..." and then put yourself down. Instead, keep it simple. Just say something like, "Thank you, I really appreciate that you would say that." Let the person see that you've accepted the compliment and that you're not going to fight it and disagree.
    • You don't have to jump back and compliment the other person right away, either, or you may look insincere.

Part 3
Looking Modest

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    Have modest body language. If you want to be modest, then you have to look the part. Don't hover over people, wave your hands wildly when you gesture, touch people you barely know with too much confidence, or stand with your hands on your hips and a giant maniacal smile planted on your face. Just stand with good posture, smile when the occasion calls for it, and keep your hands at your sides.
    • You don't have to hunch over or look at the ground to be modest. Just don't go so over the top with your body language that people think you're full of yourself.
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    Walk into a room with modesty. If you're modest, then you shouldn't march right into a room like you own the place and start chatting away like the belle of the ball. Stride into a room with confidence, and calmly greet people or give them hugs, but don't show up and throw your hands in the air and cry, "The party's here!" The way you carry yourself, especially when you enter a new environment, can influence how modest you really look.
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    Dress with modesty. This doesn't mean that you should dress like you just arrived to America on the Mayflower. However, if you want to be modest, then you should avoid clothes that are too flashy and which draw too much attention to you. Wearing obscene graphic tees, neon colors, or zebra or leopard print patterns may not be your best bet. Wear something that accentuates your best features without putting it all out there.
    • Women should define what dressing with modesty means to them. There's no harm in showing off a little cleavage as long as you've got it under control.
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    Avoid flashy accessories. Part of being modest means not acting or looking like you're better than everyone else. So, that $1000 Prada purse or those expensive diamond earrings may have to go if you want to look modest in front of other people. It's okay to own some nice things and to bring them out from time to time, but if you're rolling in with $5000 worth of electronics, jewelry, watches, shoes, and any other accessories that you can think of, then other people will raise their eyebrows.
    • Maybe you worked hard for that $1000 Prada purse. It's okay to wear it. But try not to flash it around and show it off, or people won't think you're very modest.
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    Just remember not to look or be too modest. Modesty can be a positive trait that helps you gain friends, be respected at work, and improve your relationships. Just don't let people walk all over you because you're so busy being modest that you don't even get recognition for what you have achieved, and get overlooked in the workplace or the dating arena as a result.
    • There are contested debates over whether the "modest is hottest," mantra is a good one, or whether it keeps women from expressing who they really are. When you decide on your level of modesty, think carefully.[2][3]


  • If you really want people to notice something about you, or if you really want to talk about a problem you have, lead them on modestly. If you changed your appearance say something like "Notice anything different about me?" And don't get mad if they say no. If you want to talk about you, or a problem you have, just start the conversation(but do not interrupt another one) if you are modest, and a good person, they'll help you or talk about that new thing you bought or that thing you did over the weekend. But don't drone on and on. Make it a short conversation, and if it leads into another topic other than you, don't try to pull it back to you, or bring it up again and again.


  • If people are rolling their eyes or getting annoyed, or if you're talking about yourself, and everyone looks bored, and no one is contributing to the conversation, then end it, and talk about someone or something else.

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