Picture this: you do work for a project – a lot of it. You hustle, you lose sleep, your blood, sweat, and tears are in the project, and you finally get it done. You’re really proud of it. Presentation time kicks in and someone else is presenting your work and they take all of the credit for all of it. No mention of you, no mention of your work, or the people that your work builds on.
This is all too common and all too uncomfortable. I could end this article here with one piece of advice: give credit. Be respectful and give credit.
I won’t end it there though, because too many people don’t give credit and I think folks need some advice.
First: giving credit does not make you look bad. It doesn’t make you look less; it doesn’t make you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s not a negative.
It is effective.
It is respectful.
It is what you should be doing.
Take a moment to think if you have been that person, whether intentional or not. Have you forgotten to give credit, and then it’s snowballed out of control, and you’ve gotten so much credit and affirmation that you just feel weird saying, “Oh, by the way, [this person] came up with the original idea.”
If you need to give credit and you’re unsure about how, here are a few simple tips:
Do it in the moment, don’t let it snowball
If you’re waiting, you’re going to miss the chance. When you introduce an idea, you can say, “[Person] and I worked on this together” or “I based my ideas off of [person]’s thoughts.” If you let things get too far, it’s going to feel weird and awkward when you do bring things up. Take the chance in the beginning to credit the other person and their work.
Do not lie. I repeat, do not lie. Don’t claim creation for something you did not create. If you do, you get into a very weird situation where people either 1) know you’re lying or 2) decide you’re being strange for some reason and they can’t quite figure out why – and they don’t trust you because you’re being strange.
Again, giving credit isn’t a bad thing! It actually is great to see that you credit your collaborations! You want to be easy to work with and a good collaborator.
Nothing is original, everything is a remix
We’re in 2020 – nothing is original anymore. We don’t have a new “wheel” or a new “sliced bread” and haven’t had one for a while. Everything is a remix of everything else! Things are inspired by and combinations of and have connections to. It’s not a bad thing – it’s the truth.
When I opened my latest business, everyone asked me where I got the idea, and every time I very clearly talked about the two businesses it was based on, as well as the personal experience I had. I had a collaborator at the beginning of the project, and when we broke the partnership, she insisted I took her idea and stole it.
Here’s the problem with that: from day one, I was crediting the two businesses I had “mashed up” to make my business. Both of those businesses existed before I had even met that collaborator – and the concepts of both of those businesses existed long before either of us were old enough to vote, much less open a business!
Folks will think their idea is original. And they will be upset when they realize it isn’t because of my original statement: nothing is original.
How does this help you? Well, the more you understand that everything is a remix and a collection of ideas, the more you’re going to 1) credit these other folks and 2) learn from their mistakes (and make new ones instead of the same old ones).
Remember that the next time you’re introducing an idea to tap into your inspiration – it will be worth it!