Game Theory, Cheap Talk and Bragging

 “To brag the right way is to talk about yourself (interests, ideas and accomplishments) in a conversational story-like manner with pride, enthusiasm and passion. Telling a short story―or what I call a “bragologue”―is far more compelling and interesting than rattling off your accomplishments in laundry-list fashion.”

-Peggy Klaus, Forbes Magazine

Asymmetric information market is a situation in which one party in a transaction has more or superior information compared to another. One way to bring about symmetry is to send signals ex. qualifications from premier university is a strong signal to employer about your qualifications. Signalling has lot of applications in game theory.


Signalling is expansive as person incurs cost of training. Cheap talk is opposite of signalling. In game theory, cheap talk is communication between players which does not directly affect the payoffs of the game and does not cost anything. This is in contrast to signalling in which sending certain messages may be costly for the sender depending on situation. While signalling has its own advantages, yet most information sharing is done through ordinary, informal talk.

brag 2

One way to benefit from cheap talk is to indulge in bragging. Leadership Coach Peggy Klaus gives lot of importance to bragging in your career growth. She differentiates bragging in crude way from bragging in polished way. Polished bragging is must from your own growth. Example given below shows the difference.

Bad bragging: “I’m a great sales manager because I am good with people. At the end of the month, I always get the top numbers.”

Good bragging: “You know when I was first hired as a sales manager; I never knew what a great fit it would be for my skills and personality. The job brings together my organizational skills, an ability to bring out the best in people through coaching and mentoring, and years of hands-on industry experience, which helps me really understand what my team is going through.”


In today’s corporate world responsibility of selling yourself lies with you, you cannot expect your boss or peers to do selling for you, as it may not be on top of their priority list.

“I think it’s really important for everyone to credit the people that they work with (boss, colleagues, direct reports) but you have to weave in what you are responsible for—what you have done, what your job is—because if you don’t, no one knows what you have done.”

-Peggy Klaus, Author of “Brag”


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