How to speak more modestly

Sometimes I don’t notice my faults until I see the same fault in another. For some reason it’s easier to see the mistakes of others than our own mistakes. I think the most difficult mistakes to track are mistakes regarding kindness and modesty, because don’t we all think we’re kind and modest? But how often do we think people are truly kind or modest? I think you get my point. We are often blind to our flaws, and because of that we don’t always speak in a modest manner. After all, showing off is not just about telling everybody how much money you make. Modesty of the tongue is a glorious attribute that requires a humble attitude, empathy and reflection. Let’s talk about that.

A humble attitude

Not only are braggers annoying, they also don’t fit an Islamic character. I think it all starts with a humble attitude. A humble soul results in more deen, a modest way of speaking and also more generosity and altruism. No wonder humbleness is so important in Islam.

Here are some tips that can help you create a humble attitude.

Step 1: open your eyes.

A no-brainer, but an essential first step. Look at the beauty and shadows of this world. Look at poverty and let it bring out the humane side of you. But also look at nature and be awed. Notice how small you are in this gigantic universe. Open your eyes and you should naturally become a more humble person.

Step 2: practice gratitude

I think that making a habit out of saying alhamdullah will truly make you a more humble person, because it’s a constant reminder not to be arrogant. Every show of gratefulness is like a seed of humbleness being planted in your soul and it’s good for your scale too. The best deeds are the continuous and I think this one is truly a gift since it’s so easy yet powerful. Alhamdullah!

Step 3: know your strengths

Make a list of all the things you are good at. Say what? Yes really. You need to be aware of your strengths for two reasons. First, you need to know when to be modest and what to be modest about. Second, you need to have confidence so that you won’t feel the need to convince people of your strengths.

Step 4: gain more knowledge.

The irony of life is that the more you learn, the more you learn how little you know. Humbleness of the mind is modesty of the tongue!



I never consciously wish to brag, but that doesn’t mean I am free from this fault. It’s easier to notice signs of showing off when you are listening than when you are doing the talking. That’s why I think awareness is so important. Be aware of mistakes in order to prevent showing off as much as possible! It’s something I have to work on myself.

Here are 5 common mistakes:

Mistake #1: lecturing people

Imagine two people are talking about random things. One of them is a linguistics student and notices some kind of linguistic phenomenon in their speech. This person starts rambling about this phenomenon using jargon while the other person clearly knows nothing about linguistics and isn’t interested in the topic either. What the student doesn’t realize is that this way of sharing knowledge is actually just bragging. This is an easy trap. We pronounce our thoughts not thinking about how the other person will receive these words.

How to prevent it: before you say anything take just one second to think about how the other person  will receive these words. It’s that simple. How would you feel about listening to stuff about installation techniques, or any boring topic for that matter? Also, ask yourself if your intention is really just to help another learn something. Maybe you didn’t mean to brag, but you still didn’t think enough about your conversation partner. If you really just want the other to learn something, you need to make sure to make it appealing somehow, because we get the best learning results when we’re interested in a topic.

Mistake #2: bringing up the faults of others

‘’He never donates money even though he’s much richer than I am.’’ This way you imply that you are not like him. Bringing up other people’s mistakes is a bad thing anyway, both in Islam and in a social context. This is a very common mistake, so watch out. Note to self.

Ask yourself: will I really gain something by pronouncing these words? The answer is surprisingly often ‘’no’’.

Mistake #3: complaining about things other people don’t have

It is important to know your audience. Complaining about work to an unemployed person can be painful to the unemployed person and may seem like showing off, even though you didn’t think of it that way. It’s important to be considerate of others when you speak.

Ask yourself: is this the right time to get this off my chest? Should I talk about this with this person?

Mistake #4: talking about your ‘hubby’ and your great relationship

What’s the added value of talking about how in love you and your partner are? There are a lot of people who are unhappily single or in a bad marriage and they may not be thrilled to hear about your fantastic relationship, so again: know your audience. But there are also people who are happily single or in a good marriage and I doubt they are interested in hearing how much your ‘’hubby’’ loves you. The same counts for referring to your partner as ‘’my hubby’’, ‘’my baby’’, etc. when talking to someone. 1% will think it’s sweet. 99% will think it’s cheesy and that you’re showing off, so just avoid it.

Mistake #5: giving the bad kind of advice

This one is a lot like mistake #2, only not about someone but to someone. ”You went over to his place? Don’t do that again! Like I would never do that. I’m wise enough to know better.” *snob face* Giving advice is not about telling another that you are better at whatever. That’s not helping; that’s just praising yourself by criticizing the other. It won’t be effective either.

If you want to give advice you can calmly explain why she should be careful. You can do this without projecting anything onto yourself. Think about helping the other.



You may have noticed that these mistakes have one thing in common: they show a lack of empathy. Empathy is the foundation of almost all good traits. The bottom line is that if you want to speak more modestly, you need to try to be more empathic. Before you do or say anything, think about how others will feel.


Some last tips:

  • When you accomplish something you are proud of, share it with the people you love. Only they will be happy for you anyway.
  • Don’t try to be modest so that people will admire you.
  • Are you naturally a modest person? Great, but don’t feel too great about that. You still have other flaws, as we all have our flaws.
  • Basically talking less about yourself helps a lot!

Any other tip?

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