Feedback Unscripted 4 of 9
In honor of our Learning Cycle Topic of Giving Effective Feedback, my friend and colleague, Angela Fucci, agreed to spend some time on zoom with me role-playing “good” and “bad” attempts at handling a variety of common feedback situations. We laughed, stumbling through some of the awkward conversations, and then discussed our key take-aways.
Confronting Someone Who Takes Credit for Your Work
One situation that feels so much like betrayal that it can completely erode trust is when someone takes credit for work others believe they contributed to. It’s hard to get out of the story of betrayal and give the person the benefit of the doubt, much less discuss the situation with them. But if you can muster the courage to lean into this conversation you have an opportunity not only to stand up for yourself but also to begin the process of repairing trust, which is not only critical to the work you do with each other, but to the entire team.
Here are some keys to confronting someone who has taken credit for your work:
DOS AND DON’TS
1. DO give an explicit example of something they said, including the exact words they used. Confirm with them what part of the work you contributed and get them to acknowledge it if you can. Do this with neutral or positive energy – give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their intentions.
2. DON’T accuse or attack them personally. If you villainize them, they will have no recourse but to defend themselves in the face of the judgment. They’ll likely turn on you and may even gaslight you, which will erode trust even further. It’s better for you to wait until you feel calm and confident to have the conversation then to confront when you are angry or hurt.
3. REMEMBER that even when people do things that impact you negatively, they usually didn’t come into the situation with the intention of hurting or undermining you. Usually, their crime is that they weren’t thinking of you at all but were wrapped up in their own insecurities and need for validation. It’s important for them to understand the impact of their behavior, and it’s definitely appropriate for you to set clear boundaries until they’ve proven themselves to you again. However, if you are villainizing them, gossiping about them to others, or refusing to work with them, then you have become a big part of the problem and your whole team will suffer.
In the video below, Angela and I role play and discuss a situation where someone takes credit in a meeting for work that was collaborated on. The video runs less than 9 minutes. Enjoy!