What To Do When Someone Steals Your Ideas

Introvert Whisperer

What do you do when someone you know steals your ideas? I have previously outlined things you can do to either prevent idea theft or to ensure your ideas are public enough for others to realize where they came from to begin with.

But, let’s go to the next step with this problem. Let’s say you’ve done all the right things to give your ideas visibility but the “Idea Thief” has still taken your idea and ran with it.

What do you do then?

I believe you have the following choices:

  • Ignore them. Doing nothing is easy in that you don’t have to take any action and may allow you to get over it faster.
  • Let the person know that the idea came from you and then step back. This approach takes the assumption the other person may not be aware of what they did and may do the right thing once they know of their error.
  • Let the person know and ask them to stop. Much more confrontational and risks getting ugly. This sort of approach can have lingering effects of all sorts that you may not want to deal with.
  • Let the person know, ask them to stop and take the next step. Taking the next step could be escalating to some form of management or even an attorney.
Not an option or choice:

Waging a “war of words” in social media. You hear this all the time. It never turns out good so I note this only because you will never have the potential for a good outcome.

As you go through this list, the level of personal investment – especially emotional – increases exponentially. I believe you pursue a response that is proportionate to the impact or damage (or potential damage) it does to you. In other words, just because it makes you angry, doesn’t mean that the impact to you is all that great. I also don’t think you brush it off simply because you avoid confrontation. This is situation where you may need to muster the courage to stand up for yourself.

This is one time where I think you have to clear your head, let the emotion die down and then try as best you can to make a rational decision. I’d suggest you consult with one of your more levelheaded friends to help you sort it out.

The good news:

This doesn’t happen very often so you may never face it. I hope that is your situation but if it does, you’ll now know what to do.

A good defense is a good offense.

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About Dorothy

Dorothy Tannahill-Moran is the Introvert Whisperer, Career & Leadership, speaker and author.

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