Claim Your Work

assertive innovation Aug 03, 2021

So, there I am sitting in a conference room listening to this guy share an idea for how we can improve a process. Okay, that’s wasn’t out of the norm for me, but what he’s talking about was an idea I had shared a couple of weeks prior, and one he poo-pooed with that hated phrase “that won’t work”.

My temperature is climbing as my blood boils. How dare he dismiss my idea and then present it as his own. This is so not fair. I’m sitting there plotting my revenge and totally missed that he actually took a piece of my idea and made it better. Sigh.

At the time I was so angry and frustrated that this guy had dismissed my idea and was really rude in doing it. He never liked anything I suggested. In reality he had a serious case of the not invented here syndrome. He spent close to two years attempting to prove me wrong at every turn. It was exhausting. All of this explains why I was furious that he was using my idea.

Now, being the very direct person I am, I wasn’t going to let him get all the credit. When they opened the discussion up for comments and input I brought up an idea that addressed on area of risk that he had downplayed. My boss, and his, loved the add on step and it was incorporated into the changes. I still got my say in the process, and I was recognized for making his idea better. 😉

It’s really tempting to push back when someone is sharing your idea as if it’s their own. Be careful doing that openly. You will look petty and vindictive. I know this from personal experience. Your organization is less concerned with whose idea it is and more concerned with will the idea work. Arguing that it was your idea detracts from the conversation and makes you look like you are not a team player.

Here are a few quick tips to help you get control of your anger and frustration when someone presents your idea as their own.

  1. Take a moment to listen closely before speaking up or sending an email. It’s not worth ruining your reputation to prove a point.
  2. Take several deep breaths so you can get your heart rate down and flush the adrenaline out of your system. It will help calm the fight or flight response that is hijacking your common sense.
  3. Pay close attention what is being presented. Often they have tweaked the idea some and maybe made it better, as in my story. Also, listening closely can give you ideas on how you can build on the idea.

Staying professional and showing respect for others will help you be seen as an asset to the team. Temper tantrums never help you gain respect or build your credibility. If your confidence is taking a hit because it seems like others steal your ideas, staying in control of your response will help you maintain confidence that you can handle anything they throw at you.

If your idea wasn’t a good one, they wouldn’t be stealing it. Focus on supporting your team / project / organization. Improve the ideas that people steal from you in public, so you are visibly adding value.

See more tips on my Tuesday Tip video on YouTube at


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