5 Ways to Take Credit & Not Be A Dick

Betsy talbotGuest blog post by Betsy Talbot

“Be a white man. Take credit.”

So says Jack Donaghy from the TV series 30 Rock.

Unlike many women, Donaghy has no trouble taking credit when credit is due (and even sometimes when it's not!).

This may sound crazy, but when it comes to gaining recognition, women can learn a few things from the likes of Jack Donaghy.

Let me ask you this: How long does it take for you to realize a woman you just met is amazing – 5 minutes, 5 days, 5 months, 5 years? You're struggling to come up with an answer right now for good reason.

Many of us hide our talents, accomplishments, and dreams from everyday conversation. We've been taught it isn't polite to brag.  

We are the hyper-competent Liz Lemons toiling in obscurity while the Jack Donaghys of the world take credit (and before you cry sexism, be aware that not all Jack Donaghys in this world are male).

I believe all women are amazing, but only the ones who tap into it and own it are able to rock it. And when you rock it, you get much of what you want in life, make positive changes to the world, and serve as a role model for the young women who follow in your footsteps. 

Take credit without being a jerk

You don't have to have a penis or be a dick to be proud of your talents and tell the world what you want to do with them. You do, however, have to speak up so people will know what you want and how they can help you (or how you can help them).

1) Keep it short and sweet

When you finish a project at work and someone asks about it – your boss, your mate, or a coworker – lead with the positive result. 

You finished it. The client was happy. You came in under budget and on time. 

The same holds true for our talents and personal achievements. 

I wrote a book. I trained for a year and just completed my first marathon. I tiled the bathrooms myself.

Too often we want to hash through the problems we had throughout the project with a batshit crazy client, last-minute hiccups, or problems that didn't get resolved to our personal satisfaction. (Have you pointed out all the unnoticed problems with your home improvement projects to everyone who visits and admires your handiwork?)

There is a time and a place to hash out the details, like over wine with a good friend, but it is not when someone is evaluating or complimenting your competence or performance. State the results plainly and succinctly and own your accomplishment without justifications or unsolicited details. Make it easy for them to remember.

Jack Donaghy: "...and then attended Harvard Business School where I was voted, Most. I once hit a stand up triple off Fidel Castro. I was the first person ever to say, 'I need a vacation from this vacation.' The song 'You're So Vain' was in fact written...by me."

2) Know your audience

Are you talking to your mom, your new boyfriend, or someone you just met at a business conference? The way you tell your information depends on the audience. 

Your mom wants to hear every detail because she's proud of you. 

Your new boyfriend may only want to hear the highlights and share similar accomplishments of his own as part of a still-getting-to-know-you conversation. (This is also a great test of a new relationship, when you see how interested he is in your life outside of him.) 

Someone you just met at a business conference may only be interested in work accomplishments, not the time you climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro or learned to play Stairway to Heaven on the ukelele. (Though I'm totally impressed you did that.)

Jack Donaghy: "I'm already not liking some of these people. It reminds me of being on the bus."

3) Share the love

Give credit by sharing credit. When you worked on a team, it is easy to talk up the group effort. If your charity half-marathon team raised more money for cancer research than any other team, you should be proud and tell people about it. When you make it a practice to promote other people when deserved (and not just because they showed up), they have a tendency to do the same for you. 

The dicks of the world are notorious for not sharing the spotlight or giving credit to subordinates on a project, so by doing so you automatically escape dick-dom, no matter what else you do.

Criss: "I don't understand your relationship with Liz..."

Jack Donaghy: "She's my subordifriend."

4) Brag to solve problems 

If you have had an amazing result, show others how you did it. When I landed a great gig on a national radio show through a creative press release strategy, I offered to share it with other women business owners in a Facebook group. Sure, I was proud of my book and the spot on the show, but I also wanted other women to have those kinds of experiences, too. 

In the example from #3, sharing the way you raised so much money instructs other teams on better fundraising efforts. Your bragging helps other people follow in your successful footsteps. 

When you are vocal with your accomplishments, you lead the way for other people.

Jack Donaghy: "I believe that when you have a problem, you talk it over with your priest, or your tailor, or the mute elevator porter at your men's club. Then you take that problem and you crush it with your mind vice. But for lesser beings, like curly haired men and people who need glasses, therapy can help."

5) Let people know there's more where that came from

Over-giving is a problem. When you gush out everything you know, you overwhelm the other person with detail. In your race to impress or do a good job, you cover up your best effort with a lot of extra crap. Good crap, to be sure, but still crap in the eyes of your audience because it is not necessary.

When you learn to give only what is needed, it is easier for other people to value your contribution. One terrific suggestion is better than 10, especially if it can be implemented quickly or easily. Once the other person finds success with your one idea or contribution, they'll be back for more.

For example, I just wrote a book about confidence and speaking up, but in this blog post I focused on the simple aspect of taking credit to gain confidence. Want to know more? Check out my website Married with Luggage, and/or buy the book (Hey there it is !! =>).

Let them know you have far more to give but you want to address the major needs first, circling back as they get resolved. People will appreciate your ability to prioritize and give accessible and actionable bits of information.

Jack Donaghy: "In my defense, every April 22nd I honor Richard Nixon's death by getting drunk and making some unpopular decisions."

Speak Up

People want to look for leaders and experts for help, reassurance, and information. When you truthfully state what you know, what you've done, and how you can help, you are doing the world a service. Stop thinking of taking credit as something only dicks or penised humans do. 

The world needs you to proclaim your brilliance and do great things.

Betsy Talbot is the author of Strip Off Your Fear: Slip Into Something More Confident, available on Amazon. She and her husband Warren write about Living the Good Life on your own terms on their website Married with Luggage and with insanely embarrassing pictures on Facebook. They are currently traveling in China, where they would like to brag about their fluent Mandarin but sadly cannot.


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