Tooting Your Own Horn

December 9, 2016

Letting people know what a great radiologist you are.

Every now and then, you’re pretty much forced to do it. Sometimes in writing, sometimes verbally, in person. Hyping yourself, that is. I’ve got to do an autobiographical writeup imminently, and am putting it off every way I know how-for instance, writing a blog instead.

I suppose it comes easy to some. Egotistical blowhards, I imagine, have no problem expounding at length their numerous strengths and virtues, with not a shred of discomfort or even a need to feign embarrassment.

Then, there’s the rest of us, who have been cursed with either inborn or learned humility. Having to explain to others why we’re hot commodities (for instance, in job interviews or contractual negotiations) can make our skin crawl.

It might make it easier to have someone else do it…which is why that option has been taken from us in the form of letters of recommendation. They accompany, rather than replace, our own required essays of metaphorical chest thumping. Probably just as well, since I know I’d be at least as uncomfortable if I had to sit silently in an interview while someone else in the room proclaimed me to be the radiological equivalent of the Second Coming.

As with so many other things, just because it’s difficult and/or unpleasant doesn’t make it unnecessary. And we have had a bit of practice, by the time we reach our current stage of the professional game-applications and interviews have already happened for college, med school, residency, maybe fellowship, and at least one job. (Some would add first dates to the mix.)

Certainly, if one hasn’t learned to at least endure the process, or preferably do it with a measure of apparent comfort, the competition will. Along with nice guys, the humble will likely as not finish last.

One of the problems is that whoever you’re talking (or writing) to has no way to really know how truthful you’re being. You know that s/he’s taking everything you say with at least a grain of salt, and are trying not to let yourself get psyched out by questions posed in response to things you’ve said, or even just subtle changes in your audience’s posture and facial expressions.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"54755","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_8793861928650","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"6860","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 166px; width: 170px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"©Faberr-Ink/Shutterstock.com","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

It would be nice if whoever you’re supposed to be impressing could accompany you to a few sample days of work, or if you could just submit some video footage. Let them see for themselves what a wizard-at-the-workstation you can be. Instead, you’re lucky if you have the chance to share a few “war stories” of your exploits, and give the idea that it’s just the tip of your heroic iceberg.

There are a couple of tricks I’ve heard of. Generally, I feel like anything which seems too gimmicky is to be avoided, but to each his own. One item in particular has gotten a handy nickname courtesy of Twitter: humblebragging. Stuff like “Sometimes I work too hard,” or “I can be too much of a perfectionist.” The Dilbert comic strip had a classic example, years before Twitter even existed-the interviewee claimed to sometimes work so exhaustively that he forgot basic hygiene and sustenance.

But enough of such fond recollections-that writeup still awaits me. I suppose it’s time to put on my egotistical blowhard hat and get to it.