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How to counter a fellow idea thief

Some say that being copied is a form of flattery. But when it happens at work, by a colleague who steals ideas, it’s all very well to rant and rave. How do you respond to set the record straight without threatening labour relations?

You have to balance things according to the situation,” says Louise Charette, a certified human resources consultant and president of Multi Aspects Groupe Inc, a consulting and training firm for organizations. If you brainstorm an idea as a group, it’s a gift to the team and it becomes a collective design. It is important to adopt a cooperative attitude and not to fall into egocentricity. »

If, on the other hand, the idea is put forward in a corridor discussion, for example, and our colleague takes credit for it in a meeting, Ms. Charette recommends a few steps to take before panicking too much.

One-to-one communication

Talking about it alone with the person concerned remains the first initiative to be taken. We therefore give the runner a chance and opt for the presumption of honesty. It is important to be frank and direct, to give feedback in the rules of the art by talking to the first person: I feel wronged because …

Two reactions are possible: the other one apologizes; he did not realize his attitude and he takes the time to rectify the situation at the next meeting. Or the person denies and proves to be in bad faith. In the second case, we move on to step 2.

Communication at senior level

Always using the I, we talk to the boss with ethics. The idea is not to shoot the other, but to express our state of mind and open up the discussion.

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Communication with the group

One can also decide to quickly try to set the record straight. This avoids exploding and ideally waits until the end of the meeting to state the facts in a calm manner and thus avoid including emotions in the equation.

It could also be decided to have an item added to the next agenda to allow time for thoughtful argument and evidence.

Opting for prevention

If this happens to us regularly, it may be good to ask questions about our ways of doing things. If we take the example of the corridor discussion, we can wait until there is a witness before revealing an idea, or we can simply avoid going into detail about ideas face to face with a colleague.

As a group, Louise Charette advises contextualizing the idea and thus giving anchors to the memory. This can be done by creating an unusual event around the unveiling of the idea. For example, standing up, handing out a document, writing on the blackboard, or integrating the idea into an anecdote.

“In any case, this feeling of being wronged increases with the importance attached to professional recognition, and the conflict may simply stem from a misperception on both sides,” concludes Louise Charette.

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