Updated: May 27, 2019
It can be particularly frustrating & annoying when a workplace colleague steps in and claims to be the mind behind your hard work. Whether it is a deliberate attempt made by the coworker to steal your credit or an accidental claim of the work, the situation needs to be addressed carefully. You don’t want to sound desperate, claiming an undeserving credit but at the same time setting the record straight is important too! The situation might be tricky, but that does not mean that you have no way out.
Here are three possible ways you can deal with this situation without creating any bad blood between you and your coworker:
Avoid being impulsive
When you witness your colleague taking credit for an idea that you initially pitched in, it is natural to want to confront them right away. However, if you take some time to process the situation and think with a cooler head, the matter can be solved much more efficiently. To quote Brian Uzzi, the leadership professor of Northwestern University, “If you’re emotionally piqued at being ripped off, it’s not the time to talk about it. Neurologically your mind is not working at its best, and you may get out-argued.”
As per the Harvard Business Review, you are suggested to take a day or so to think about the matter before confronting the said colleague to reach a peaceful solution. However, taking too much time is also discouraged. “Don’t stew about it for so long that, by the time you talk to the person, you’re ready to explode. You also want to make sure the incident is still fresh in everyone’s mind.” Says HBR.
Try to Understand the Coworker’s Side of Story Before Involving Higher Management
Escalating the matter straight immediately in the eyes of higher management might seem like an easy way out of the situation. However, the problem can be more maturely handled if the offending colleague is talked to first. Expressing your concern to the coworker can further strengthen the working relationship between you and them while also making clear whether the act was intentional or not.
This opinion is supported by Forbes which says, “In this type of situation, it is best to go to the person first and resolve the situation directly with them because sometimes it can be a simple oversight on their part. Gain their agreement that this will never happen in the future.”
Act at the moment and Correct your Coworker Immediately
Giving that you act tactically and sensibly, correcting your colleague on the spot when they attempt to steal your “moment” is acceptable, as remarked by career guru Alison Green of ‘Ask a Manager’. You can’t entirely rely on your coworker to present your side of your story. If you see your coworker pitching your ideas, you can interrupt him and say something like, “Oh yes that is the idea I was discussing with him right before this meeting. I would also like to add…” It is vital that you have something fruitful and essential to add to the discussion so that your interruption is justified.