What You Should Do if Someone Takes Credit For Your Work (No, Screaming Isn't Allowed)

September 10, 2018

How to respond if someone else takes credit for your work.

It’s the worst. You work hard on a project, you are really proud of the outcome – and someone else who barely had anything to do with it publicly takes all the credit for its success.

You want to scream.

The problem is, all of us get frustrated when that happens, but many of us keep that frustration inside. That’s the wrong move, according to Lisa Earle McLeod in her LinkedIn Learning course, Navigating Awkward Situations at Work.

This is a time for action.

“Your gut reaction is usually to stew about it,” McLeod said. “But your stewing only contributes to dysfunctional team dynamics. Addressing this problem head-on is the only way to solve it.”

How to respond if someone else takes credit from your work, according to LinkedIn Learning Instructor Lisa McLeod.

How to Confront Someone Who Took Credit for Your Work

If someone takes credit for your work, you need to confront them about it, McLeod. And she gave three steps for doing exactly that.

    1. When you confront them, give them an easy opportunity to apologize.

Often people don’t mean to intentionally take credit for your work – they just got excited in the moment or don't think about it. If you confront them about it, they’ll often feel bad and go out-of-their-way to give you credit.

So, start the conversation by giving them an easy opportunity to apologize. Say something like, “If I recall correctly, several of us contributed to that project”, or something along those lines.

That'll give them that chance to save face and apologize. Hopefully, they take it.

    2. Next, emphasize the importance of teamwork.

Regardless of if they apologize or not, next, make it clear the importance of teamwork and sharing credit.

Let them know that the best teams are collaborative and have a “we” mentality, not an “I” mentality – and that should extend to celebrating successes as well. This should ideally stop the behavior.

“The goal here was not to make the person feel horrible, just to make sure this moment doesn't happen again,” McLeod said.

What if it doesn’t, and the person takes credit for your work for a second time? Talk to your manager about it. If your boss is the one doing it or they do nothing to stop it, talk to their boss about it or HR – that's unacceptable.

Want to learn how to handle other sticky office scenarios? Watch Lisa and Elizabeth McLeod’s full LinkedIn Learning course, Navigating Awkward Situations at Work.

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