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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Getting Credit

Dear Sue: Why don't people understand the value of a good idea? I've been the brains behind many profitable ventures, but have never received any compensation for any of them. A friend of mine told me about a book she read that predicted that in the future people will be paid for their ideas and thinking. When that day comes, I will be rich! 

I've been ignored over and over again for the contributions I've made. It was a joke in high school because whenever a project I had worked on was mentioned, acknowledgments would go to someone else. It happened so many times, it got to be a running joke, but now it isn't funny.

This has carried over into my jobs in which I am rarely acknowledged, and even in my personal life. Whenever I do receive a compliment, people still fail to give me credit. For example, I hear many comments on the excellent behavior of my dogs and my kids, but no one seems to realize that I trained the dogs, and have worked with my kids; they didn't come this way. For some bizarre reason, people think I am just lucky because my dogs and kids are so great. I've done a lot of thinking, introspection, and creative problem solving to get lucky. The same thing is happening at work. Is it something I'm saying?

- Donna

Sue Says: I am willing to bet that this has nothing to do with what you are saying; it may have more to do with what you are not saying. Perhaps people don't really know what you've done or what to acknowledge you for.

There is a big difference between coming up with an idea and implementing an idea. Some people are full of ideas; yet never see any of them executed. Perhaps you are too free with your ideas, and need to keep more of them to yourself so that you can be the one to implement them.

The people responsible for putting ideas in to action generally are the ones who will be recognized for their accomplishments. Some people prefer to work behind the scenes, and others want and need to be in the spotlight. Some people, as you have seen, appear to be lucky. Luck often is a result of lots of hard work and the ability to make the right decisions.

Ultimately, your sense of satisfaction needs to come from within. For example, you say that you do receive compliments on the behavior of your children and dogs. Accept those comments graciously and savior them. It shouldn't matter if other people think you are lucky; the fact is that the result of your efforts (italic) is being recognized, and that is what you say you crave.

If other people take credit for something you are a part of, you can and should speak up and take the credit you deserve. However, if you depend upon and look for the approval or recognition of others, you may never feel satisfied. 

Dear Sue: My sister is working at a retail establishment and practically runs the place. She is asked to do most of the training, including training the new boss. However, when a management position was available, she was overlooked. 

When she asked about it, she was told that she needed to work on her people skills. I've seen her at work and know her personally, and I do not agree with this assessment of her. I think that she may be experiencing discrimination because she is overweight. What can she do, and what can I do to help her? 

- Sister in distress.

Sue Says: Why do you assume that your sister is being discriminated against because of her weight? The fact that she has been asked to train others indicates that she has an understanding of the details of the business, but it is quite possible that she lacks skills in dealing with people effectively, which someone in a management position needs. To deny the information she has been given is a mistake.

Is her weight an issue for you? If it is, by all means talk to her about it, but if you want to help her, start by helping her identify what she needs to do to develop the skills her boss is talking about so that she can move beyond this hurdle. 

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
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