Getting Proper Credit

Dear DW,

What do I do when someone takes credit for my work?


Plagiarized in Paradise

Dear Plagiarized,

The best response depends on who the person is and how often it has happened.

According to Janet Scarborough Civitelli, PhD, a workplace psychologist at, if the person is your boss, take it in stride the first time or two, because part of your job is to make your boss look good. But if your boss consistently fails to acknowledge your contributions, start documenting your work so that, at some point, you can submit a written report summarizing what you’ve done to help your department.

To make sure others know about your successes, communicate to colleagues what you’re doing. Find graceful ways to mention your accomplishments in e-mails, and be appropriately assertive about describing your successes in meetings. One way is to publicly thank others who helped you with an achievement, while making it clear that you led the effort.

If the person taking credit for your work is a colleague, Civitelli suggests that you chalk it up to a miscommunication the first time it happens. If the same person steals your thunder again, be strategic about how you communicate with that co-worker. Don’t give away your best ideas by being indicriminate about whom you tell. Push for clarity of ownership with big projects. Put the arrangement in writing, and copy your boss and other team members.

Finally, when taking proper credit, be aware of your company’s unwritten rules about self-promotion, so you don’t act wildly out of sync with others. DW

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