Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Lessons from a Recovering Doormat


Handling Someone Who Takes All the Credit

Whether at work or play, there are people who step up to the plate when praise is given, even if you were the key part of it and they rode your coattails. That can create bad felings if it’s done to you, plus it isn’t fair to not get the acknowledgement you deserve. And it’s hard to figure out how to address it without making a scene or causing a problem. But there are many “nice” ways to handle it.

When I was a DoorMat I thought being modest would make people like me more so I let others take credit for things I did with my efforts, or my talents. It never occurred to me to speak up or share what I’d done. I thought of myself as a team player, even if I was the only one on the team who did the work. But  deep down I felt angry when I saw praise being lavished on someone who took credit for what I did. I woke up when I did volunteer work for an organization and put their events together, mostly by myself.

Each time I sat at a meeting and heard the other volunteers congratulate each other for another successful event, it stirred anger, since none of them did anything. I still remember when someone volunteered to organize a workshop. I was happy that someone else was doing it. But then she called. She couldn’t get any speakers. Could I help? I got her all of them. The she  couldn’t get a venue to have it in. I used one of my contacts and got them to volunteer space. The event was a success but at the next meeting, everyone praised the woman I’d done the work for. She sat there glowing and never mentioned my part, which was everything except coming up with the idea.

I didn’t make a fuss but shortly after I stepped down from that committee. When they asked who would handle the events I just smiled sweetly said that since they all take credit for my hard work and don’t seem to appreciate me, they can surely actually do something. It was a big turning point for me. From then on I made sure to not let that happen again. Now if someone doesn’t give me the credit I deserve, I ask them why after. You don’t have to be hostile but it’s important to not let it slide. Otherwise it can become a habit.

This happened to Julie. Whenever she went out to eat with her parents and cousins, her sister picked up the check and everyone thanked her profusely. Afterward, she’d whisper to Julie that she should give her half the money. Julie didn’t mind splitting the check but no one ever knew she did. When she told me about it, she was seething that she was paying half the bill while her sister looked like a big shot. She had caught herself from exploding the last time but needed to do something. At my suggestion, I told her to speak to her sister in a nice tone and explain you don’t like chipping in for dinner and getting no thanks from everyone since she lets them think she’s doing all the treating.

Her sister got the message and the next time she told the family that Julie was also paying for dinner, and had each time. Julie felt better from having spoken up. Since you deserve credit for what you do, it’s important to speak up. But do it in a friendly way, assuming that the person doesn’t realize what they’re doing. If a colleague or your boss takes credit for your ideas, take the person aside and say that you were disappointed for not being acknowledged for your part. Ask how that can be prevented next time. Once the person knows it’s harder to ignore doing so.

While we don’t need to get acknowledged for every little thing we do, notice when it bothers you not to be. Then say something. Or give yourself credit. I once came up with the idea for a theme for a friend’s son’s birthday party. It was a huge success and everyone told her how clever she was. She just said thank you. So I began telling people how I came up with the idea.  Find whatever makes you feel better and do it. People won’t know it bothers you unless you tell them. It’s so empowering to speak up for yourself!
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