It IS my own work

Has someone ever insinuated that the work you are doing is not your own? How did it make you feel? Did you want to dive over the desk? Did you want to yell at them and possibly use bad words?

I’ve been in such a situation. When the insinuation was made, I was speechless. I really did not know how to react. No one had ever said or insinuated such a thing before. I mean, I was an English major – footnotes and bibliographies are well-known entities.

Background: I was assigned a project. Develop a strategy for implementing a social media tool into the overall communications plan. Show how it would create leads and opportunities as well as build brand awareness. In addition, it would help with HR’s recruiting. Show how we’d measure it, etc.

What would your first step be when assigned this project?

Me? Research to validate what I already know what can be done but to see what others are doing and possibly identify a new way of doing things in addition to what is currently being done.

I read and read and read. I engaged with colleagues and acquaintances. I even asked if I could borrow or review or even use pieces of other people’s presentations (see Geoff Livingston and his book “Marketing in the Round” with Gini Dietrich.). That book is an inspiration to me and to how I wanted to approach the overall project. (It is called “pay it forward” and “social media” for a reason.)

I ended up submitting six different presentations around this one vehicle, as each review resulted in new direction.

Finally the day came when any and all items had been checked off the list. The result?

“I don’t feel this is your work.”

Excuse me? Would you please clarify?

The discussion moved forward as I pointed out where any information I had used with permission had been blatantly designated as such with the reference plainly shown on the slide. Out of 36 slides, there were five.

This meeting resulted in the fact that I did nothing wrong and was absolved by the other side of the desk. Let’s say I didn’t lose any sleep, but it did make me mad that my reputation would be up for discussion. My father was an attorney; it’s not possible for me to claim someone else’s work as my own.

As a professional, I did what I thought was best. I discussed the presentation and research in detail, showing that I had given credit where credit was due. I held my head high and did not get publicly rattled. I stayed calm. I recognized the politics and didn’t react by trying to play a game I don’t play very well (and don’t like).

At the end of the day, any work I do has my name on it. I’m the one that has to look in the mirror every morning and evening. I always want to know I did the best job I could, without cutting any corners.

Are there people who don’t care like I do? Yes. I cannot help you change them. I can share my experience and hope that it helps you survive a similar situation.

What would you do?

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Susan Cellura is a marketing communications professional with over 20 years of experience. She is a dynamic communications professional and enthusiastic team-builder, with a progressive history of success in designing and implementing communications programs for global organizations. A strategic thinker with the ability to understand the needs of multiple audiences and deliver solutions, Susan is a results-oriented problem-solver with exceptional interpersonal and negotiation abilities. Having worked in a variety of global industries, she has grown business communications in her current position via a strong mixture of strategic resources, including social media.

2 thoughts on “It IS my own work”

  1. I was once unfairly accused of doing something unethical and in retrospect I have to conclude the accusation said more about the unhealthy office in which I was working more than it said anything about me. Even still, it was incredibly painful at the time.

    I recently saw a quote from Anthony Hopkins that went something like, “Other people’s opinions of me is really none of my business.” Has become my new mantra.

    So glad you didn’t lose any sleep over it! Anybody that knows you would find the suggestion that you plagiarized ABSURD. Am very proud of you.

  2. Hi Kristen, Thanks for a very insightful comment. I think you hit the nail on the head with your statement about an unhealthy office environment. Very key. And I love your new mantra.

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