3 ways to deal with someone who takes credit for your idea
What's the best way to react when someone steals one of your ideas?
By Guy Vicars, psychotherapist
There’s nothing more irritating, especially professionally, when a colleague takes credit for your hard work and ideas.
Take a deep breath and consider the following response.
1. Acknowledge your own feelings about the situation. This is essential because although many people try and avoid feelings and emotions at work, perhaps thinking it makes them unprofessional, feelings actually guide our actions. In this case, your feelings may range from mildly irritated to blazingly furious. When you take time to register your feelings they almost always subside in intensity, which leaves you better able to think coherently about the situation.
2. Now, reflect on these feelings and the situation; give yourself time to really think rather than simply reacting. Consider why the situation might have occurred:
• Was it simply an oversight?
• An error?
• Was it deliberate, to gain kudos?
• Or was it malicious, to undermine you?
A pen and paper, having a coffee away from the environment or going for a walk can help you work through this process. There may be many reasons or only one – you may never know the real answer. But the key is using this time to contemplate your options.
3. Determine what action to take. Healthy relationships require healthy but direct communication. Find a time to raise the issue with your colleague. Don’t use blame. Rather, couch your problem in terms of a dilemma and use “I” statements (rather than “you”). Explain what outcome you are looking for. This frequently works and can be used to build a working relationship. If you suspect your comments will fall on deaf ears, have a third person present who will keep you both “honest” in the conversation and prevent matters getting worse.
Remember: being attacked or accused will almost invariably result in a defensive reaction and response. Making “I” statements makes it easier for your thoughts to be heard, especially where a complaint is being made.
About the author
Guy Vicars is a psychotherapist and relationship therapist. He also lectures for undergraduate and postgraduate programs in counselling and psychotherapy.