Are You Getting the Credit You Deserve?

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Communication Skills—How to View It
Men are really good at taking credit for everything. Women are not so good at taking credit for what they deserve.

When I give workshops on secrets to getting ahead for women, one of the hardest exercises for participants is what I call “the owning your own worth exercise.” It actually is very simple. The participants have a few minutes to write down their thoughts about what makes them great or valuable in a specific work context. Then she must stand in front of the group and tell the group in a first person declaration. “I am a great sales person because …” For many women, this task might as well be walking on hot coals.

On the other hand, it is also very common that when a woman is given a compliment at work about her success, her immediate reaction is to say something like, “Well, I could not have done it without Jenny and the team.”

A common and pleasant ritual among women is the “No, it’s not me, it was you.” The exchange goes like this:

MANAGER: Great job, Beth!

BETH: Oh, I could not have done it without Kim. She is the best.

KIM: Oh no, you, Beth, deserve all the credit.

BETH: No, no , no, really you were great!

This goes on for a while. It is a pleasant way to give each other compliments.

The problem is when a woman attempts this type of exchange with a man.

MANAGER: Great job, Beth!

BETH: Oh, I could not have done it without Ken. He is the best.

KEN: Well thank you very much (as he stands up straighter)!

Many women have an unspoken or even unconscious belief that they should not have to advertise their accomplishments. Managers should notice without being told. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. You need to become more comfortable giving yourself credit where credit is due.

How to Do It
First, recognize this is just a skill like any other. Take an honest look at how comfortable you are at accepting credit as well as describing your worth.

Second, write a brief elevator speech (thirty seconds to one minute) about how competent or great you are at your job (or any other area for that matter). Then say it out loud (this is very important), preferably in front of mirror, looking yourself in the eyes. Keep doing this until you can sound like you mean it. This next part works requires that you get at least one if not several other women to do this same exercise that you have just done. Let’s call this your credit acceptance team. Say your elevator speech in front of your team three times. After each time, your team should applaud and cheer you on. It is hard work. But you will feel the difference.

Third, you should practice accepting credit without immediately giving it to someone else. You can use your team for this. You first want to simply say thank you and almost literally breathe it in and feel that you do deserve the credit. Learn to acknowledge what you have done. (See the second example below.)

Remember, someone just took the time and energy and attention to compliment you. If you brush it off, you are actually brushing them off! Now if, in fact, other people were part of it, practice sharing the credit that does not hide yours. Here are some examples:

  • “Thank you. I know you were counting on us. The team and I are so pleased that you like the work.”
  • “Thank you. It was a challenging task. I am proud of the work that I did and the work that Mary, Alicia, and Brad did.”
  • “Thank you. It was great to be part of a wonderful team effort.”

By Dr. Robert Schwarz, National Director of Mars and Venus in the Workplace

Photo courtesy of w2wlink


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