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What You Should Do When Someone Takes Credit For Your Idea

Source | FastCompany : By LAURA VANDERKAM

The scenario: You share an idea in a meeting. No one acknowledges it. Then a colleague suggests the same thing. He gets praised. What should you do?

It’s a tricky situation to negotiate, especially since many women feel it is more likely to happen to them than their male colleagues. Anything having to do with workplace dynamics and sexism can get contentious quickly. But staying calm is the key to getting results. “You want to emotionally engage everyone else and make room for yourself at the table,” says Daniel Shapiro, founder and director of the Harvard International Negotiation Program and author of the forthcoming book Negotiating the Nonnegotiable: How to Resolve Your Most Emotionally Charged Conflicts. “Part of the delicate dance is to raise your status without lowering the status of others.”

Here’s how you can do just that.


Your first impulse may be to stab the colleague who got credit for your idea with a pencil. But keep in mind two things. First, while he repeated your idea without acknowledging it, he didn’t control everyone else’s reaction. That’s a different matter that also has to be dealt with. And second, anything combative you do in the moment will probably backfire. “That’s not going to fix the issue. It’s only going to provoke the issue,” says Shapiro. Instead, indulge in a redemption fantasy. The best possible outcome is that your colleague comes to realize what happened and becomes a champion for your ideas. That’s not completely crazy. After all, he’s already demonstrated that he thinks your ideas are good ones!


Being undercut in a meeting can make you feel disempowered, but the truth is that you have lots of options. Some are good and some are bad (storming out of the meeting is probably a bad one). But you can change your feelings about the whole situation, Shapiro says, by telling yourself, “I’m not a victim. I’m a powerful person who has the opportunity to help reshape our meeting process to make sure everyone has a voice.”

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