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I have been accomplishing quite a bit in my role and moving up the ranks quickly. I love my job and am proud of the work I do.

Sometimes my boss and my boss's boss make comments about my performance in casual conversation and I don't know how to acknowledge the fact that I'm a high contributor while still coming off as modest.

Do I change the subject? Just say thank you and move on?

  • Out of curiosity, why would you want to be modest about your accomplishments? Generally being assertive works better. I ca understand why you might not want to be aggressive. But waiting modestly until other people notice you are doing a great job is often a good way to not get promoted or pay raises. – HLGEM Aug 31 '15 at 21:29
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I find simply saying "Thank You! I love what I do." goes a long way toward being modest. It also shows them you are happy and engaged, which will make any boss happy.

  • Although depending on your manager and how you normally speak, 'I love what I do' may be a little strong or obsequious - or even false. Similar enthusiasm may be found with a phrase more like 'that was a fun little project' - still letting your manager know that you enjoyed it, but without sounding forced, if 'I love what I do' wouldn't normally be the way you'd speak. I find this less direct approach sometimes fits better, but obviously tailor your response to your own personality, manager and social interactions – Jon Story Aug 31 '15 at 21:51
  • The intention was to say something that was truthful and conveys your feelings. I completely agree with Jon that you shouldn't embellish or change the way you normally speak. – Brian Dishaw Sep 1 '15 at 2:30
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I agree with Brian - accepting a complement is fine if you gracefully say thank you.

Outside of that, I tend to use 'we' a lot, even when I really mean 'I'. It might not be great in an interview, but I think responding to a request with 'Oh yes, we can get that sorted for you' sounds confident without sounding cocky - it also makes you a team player. 90% of the time the relevant people know who is doing what anyway.

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Wonderful question, and my answer will depend on your culture. If by "modest" you mean "not immodest" then good. (Beware that excessive modesty can undermine your career.)

In American culture the following physical behaviors can signal confidence, according to The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide To Character Expression (a resource I use when teaching Emotional Intelligence to engineers) - this is an abbreviated list, partly paraphrased:

  • Strong posture (shoulders back, chest out, chin high)
  • Walking with wide steps
  • Strong hygiene and personal grooming
  • Direct eye contact
  • An easy smile
  • Appearing relaxed
  • A strong handshake

Obviously you will want to behave in ways that convey confidence in your culture.

While the other advice here is excellent -- saying "thank you" is always good -- I would also suggest you consider where you want to go in your career. You seem proud of advancing quickly. You might consider thanking your boss and your boss's boss, AND adding: "I've done well because I have great teammates and I love growing and pushing myself to higher levels, and you've really supported me by giving me stretch assignments. I'm hoping you'll continue." (Or whatever feels truthful to you.)

When you connect your success with the fact that they've given you increasing responsibility, you're inviting them to continue to increase their trust in you.

And THAT shows confidence. ;-)

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