#300: How to Talk About Achievements in English | Plus Your Good News

Jan 17, 2024 | Communication Skills, How To Develop Skills

Today I’m celebrating! 

On June 21, 2016, I posted my first Confident English lesson on YouTube and my Speak Confident English website.

I’m not going to lie. I’m not too fond of that video. At the time, I was terrified. Terrified of public speaking. I didn’t like the way I spoke, especially on camera.


Fast forward to today…

I’m posting my 300th Confident English lesson! Plus, I have become a much better, more confident public speaker. (Thank goodness!)​

(Want to know how I become more confident? I share my top strategy in my How to Get the Confidence to Say What You Want free training. You can also get my top tips to become a confident English speaker.)

It feels great to celebrate this accomplishment. And it helps me realize how much I’ve grown as an English teacher and public speaker.

There are several good reasons to share your achievements, milestones, and good news with others including

  • highlight your value to employers & interviewers
  • honor your hard work and boost your confidence
  • invite the people who care about you the most to celebrate with you

But getting it right is important. Of course, what you share and how you share will depend on who you’re speaking to and how close you feel.

For example, imagine you hear someone say, “I’m the best accountant this company has ever had.

Yikes.

Comments like that make most of us cringe — that particular facial expression when we have an inward feeling of embarrassment or awkwardness.

Instead, you probably prefer modest, humble statements of success and achievement.
Or not all.

Talking about achievements can be uncomfortable. You don’t want to sound arrogant or boastful. And you don’t want to make others feel bad if they haven’t experienced the same success.

So how can you share wonderful news when…

  • You become a grandma for the first time
  • You get that job promotion
  • You finally succeed in growing a house plant
  • You start a conversation in English for the first time
  • You pass a certification exam
  • You complete your first marathon

These are important milestones. Whether large or small, you should be able to share them with others.

The people who matter in your life want to celebrate your achievements with you.

In this Confident English, you’ll learn how to talk about achievements in English. That means having the right authentic approach and the right vocabulary so you can feel great inviting others to celebrate with you or share your professional achievements in performance reviews and interviews.

WATCH THE LESSON

How to Talk About Achievements in English | Plus Share Good News

5 Tips for an Authentic Approach

Not all of these tips will be applicable every time you share a particular milestone or successful outcome. However, typically, one or two of them will be helpful to professionally highlight your work achievements and to humbly share your successes.

Tip 1: Acknowledge the contribution of others

In English, we say ‘give credit where credit is due.’ This means to praise others and recognize the ways they may have contributed to your success. This might be fellow team members who worked on a project with you. Someone who mentored you when you just started your career. Or your family who supported you and made it possible for you to spend extra time studying for an important certification exam.

Tip 2: Express gratitude

A focus on gratitude maintains a sense of balance, a recognition that a particular achievement wasn’t just luck or good fortune.

Tip 3: Emphasize effort or hard work when appropriate

This doesn’t apply to ALL achievements or milestones, of course. But when appropriate, people tend to appreciate or respect others for putting in the effort.

Tip 4: Maintain a positive tone

You can do this by staying focused on the facts of the achievement along with your role and the role of others rather than comparing your accomplishment to someone else’s or making it sound like a superiority competition. As a result, you sound confident but not arrogant. What’s the difference? 

Confidence is a belief in your abilities, your strengths.

Arrogance is an overestimation of your abilities and strengths.

Tip 5: Turn it into an opportunity for others to share

If appropriate, after sharing your success, turn it into a conversation to give others the chance to share. For example, 

“Oh my gosh, after months and months of training, I finally completed my first marathon! I can’t believe it’s done. And I’m so relieved it is. I’ll keep running, but I’m glad I don’t need to spend so much time training. What about you? When was the last time you felt super relieved to be done with something?”

12 English Phrases to Use When Talking About Achievements

I want to briefly highlight specific vocabulary and sentence structures we use to talk about achievements. And when I share specific scenarios with you, you’ll hear many of these.

Professional/Formal

  • I’m grateful/thankful that…
    • I’m grateful that I was selected for this position.
  • I worked really hard to…
    • I worked really hard to pass the exam.
  • I’m pleased to say/announce that…
    • I’m pleased to say I was promoted to the position of Marketing Director.
  • I have some exciting news to share with you. I’m [x-ing…]
    • I have some exciting news to share with you. I’m moving into the Marketing Director position.
  • I’m fortunate…
    • I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with this team.
  • I had the opportunity to…
    • I had the opportunity to interview for a promotion at work and I just found out I was selected. I’ll start my new position next month.
  • I want to highlight…
    • I want to highlight the efforts of the entire team in this success.

Neutral/Casual

  • I [did X] and I’m so proud of Y.
    • I took the board exam and I’m so proud of my certification.
  • I’m really proud of…
    • I’m really proud of passing my board exam after months of study.
  • I’ve been [doing X] and…
    • I’ve been training for months and I was able to set a personal record in the marathon.
  • I took a leap and [did X].
    • I took a leap and entered my writing into a contest. 
  • Guess what? [X]
    • Guess what? I FINALLY have a house plant that has lived for more than 3 months. I don’t have a green thumb so this is pretty exciting.
      • To have a green thumb is an idiom that means to have the ability to make plants grow and be healthy

6 Common Scenarios in Professional, Social, and Casual Situations

Category #1: Professional Settings

Without a doubt, professional success comes from hard work and the contributions or mentoring of others. As a result, these are ideal opportunities to emphasize your efforts and to acknowledge others who have contributed to your success. 

Let’s look at how to do that.

Scenario #1: Imagine you recently got promoted to a managerial role at work.

To share this with your coworkers, you might say:

  • Before we end our meeting today, I’d like to share some news. I’m pleased to say that I am taking on the role of Marketing Director after 10 years in the marketing world. I look forward to contributing my skills and working with the team in this new way. 

The tone in this example is professional in its language choice. The announcement is brief, emphasizes your efforts, and ends with a positive outlook in working with the team. 

 

Scenario #2: You successfully presented an idea to upper management and they plan to move forward with your proposal. Preparing the presentation took a lot of time and a team effort to prepare.

To share this achievement with your team, you might say:

  • I want to highlight the hard work and efforts that led to the success of this presentation. Each of you played a crucial role and I’m grateful for everything you did.

This achievement also maintains a professional tone. And in this example, the focus has shifted to teamwork, indicating that the sense of achievement should be shared by all who were involved.

 

Category #2: Social/Semi-casual Settings

When in social settings — with coworkers, friends, and acquaintances — your tone will shift to more informal than formal. Moreover, in social conversations, it’s likely that you’ll share more personal achievements. 

For more personal achievements, it’s natural to share additional details. An ideal way to do so is through one simple word: because.

Adding ‘because’ provides context and gives the other person an opportunity to join in on your celebratory feeling. 

 

Scenario #3: Imagine your son/daughter recently graduated from university despite a tough year.

You might say:

  • I’m so proud of my daughter because she graduated with a high GPA despite falling behind in her first year of university.   

In addition, when talking about your achievements, stick to talking about yourself or those who were involved.

Comparisons can unintentionally introduce negativity to the conversation. 

Scenario #4: Maybe you successfully hosted a workshop in English about a topic you’re passionate about and it was well-received. 

Rather than say:

  • I recently took on the challenge of hosting my first workshop and I think it had more energy than the others’.

You could say:

  • I recently took on the challenge of hosting my first workshop and I was thrilled by the energy I got from everyone!

Not only does this eliminate the comparison and a sense of competition, but the positive tone also keeps the focus on the hard work behind the achievement and the contribution of the participants.

 

Category #3: Casual Settings

Finally, when you’re among friends or family, don’t hold back on the specifics. Share your achievements with details and focus on the positives. 

The truth is, the people who are close to you already know what’s happening in your life. They will want to know all the details and celebrate with you.

Scenario #5: Your son’s wife had a baby and you recently became a grandmother.

To share this news with friends you might say:

  • Oh my goodness! I have some exciting news — it happened! I’m a grandma now! My heart is melting over her. Is this how you felt too?

Alternatively, you could say:

  • Guess what? My son’s baby was born last night and I’m officially a grandma. I wanted to be the first to tell you!

Scenario #6: Imagine you reached a significant milestone by exhibiting your artwork at a local gallery for the first time.

You could say:

  • I took a leap and I’m going to exhibit my art at the gallery next month. I’ve been working hard to refine my skills and curate the pieces I want to showcase, but honestly, I’m terrified. I don’t know what to expect.

In this example, your achievement is grounded in the time and effort in getting to this milestone. 

Practice What You Learned

After you watch, I want to hear from you.

Using the tips and one of the phrases from today’s lesson, tell me about something you achieved recently.

Keep in mind, achievements can be big or small; they could be anything from learning a new recipe to leading a new project at work. 

Share your thoughts and personal strategies for overcoming the myth. As always, you can share your comments and questions with me below.

~ Annemarie

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