Dear People Ops,
Not sure if this is an "HR" question, but hoping you could help. I have a coworker who is always taking credit for my ideas. It's driving me nuts. Recently, he repeated the exact idea I shared five minutes earlier in a meeting like it was his own! What can I do?
Ouch, there is nothing more frustrating than someone taking credit for your awesome ideas. Luckily, the solution is pretty simple. Lets walk through three simple strategies.
Take a Stand
Now is the time to stick up for your ideas. In the next meeting when Jim brings up the idea you suggested ten minutes ago as his own try "Yes! Thank you Jim. That's exactly what I was suggesting a few minutes ago. To elaborate further, I think we should......." I like this response because it both asserts claim over your idea and then allows you, not Jim, to be the one to move it forward.
Make a Joke
If you're not comfortable with direct confrontation, use a joke. "Gosh, Jim, are you reading my mind? That was the exact same idea I shared in last week's marketing meeting!". This strategy allows you to assert ownership over your idea without being directly confrontational.
Enlist an Accomplice
If you're not comfortable taking a stand, or are unable to due so due to office dynamics, loop in a colleague to help. The next time Jim tries to steal your idea, that colleague can have your back with a quick "I think that's the same idea Sarah had just a few minutes ago. Sarah, could you walk us through it?". Be sure to return to the favor for your new comrade in arms the next time the opportunity arises.
Now you're armed with three strategies to keep the idea thief away. With a little bit of pre-planning and practice, you'll be prepared to always get credit for your kick a** ideas!
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