Giving credit where credit is due is something that many people seem to overlook these days whether it’s in their professional lives or their personal lives. It was true when Samuel Adams wrote “give credit to whom credit [is] due” in a letter on October 29, 1777. It was true when Jesus told his disciples [Matthew 22:21], “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” It’s still true today.
Very recently I saw a situation of giving credit — or actually not giving credit — where it was due, and I’m observing how this poor decision is playing out in the business community.
What happens when due credit isn’t given
In the immediate future, the person who didn’t give due credit will benefit from that action, and the person to whom credit was due will go unnoticed for their efforts. In other words, if anyone else know the situation for what it is, most will pass over it as something that was possibly unintentional or missed in the excitement of the new connections. For some, however, they will file this information away for future reference. If it can happen to a colleague, they will reason, this person could do the same to me and my business.
What happens in the long-term
This is where the behavior will impact most. If a colleague cannot trust a colleague to do the right thing when it comes to small business matters, the line of thinking is that such a colleague can’t be trusted to do the right thing when it comes to more important business matters. While no one will go out of their way to sabotage that colleague’s business, they will also be unwilling to chance recommending that person or their business to others out of concern for other colleagues and their businesses. After all, if someone is willing make bad choices on the simple decisions, chances are that the bigger the decision, the easier it will be to make bad choices.
What if the slight is unintentional
Occasionally it happens that the slight is unintentional. The person to whom credit is due can tactfully remind the colleague of the original discussion which may have been forgotten by the colleague.
If, after being gently reminded, the colleague tosses it off or treats the matter as a minor offense that’s not worth correcting, don’t let the colleague off the hook. If he will treat you and your business disrespectfully, he will treat other professionals and their businesses with the same lack of respect.
If, after being gently reminded, the colleague apologizes and corrects the oversight, give him a clean slate from which to work. Not only will it help both parties to cultivate a positive business relationship with each other, it may foster other opportunities for both parties that will build both their businesses.
Is if worth getting even
It’s never worth it professionally or personally to get even with someone who has slighted you. If it happens to you and the offender chooses not to make amends, remember what happened and move on.
- Don’t speak poorly about the person. His actions will out him with other professionals in time.
- Don’t allow one bad apple to spoil the barrel. Building positive business relationships matter. Don’t stop helping others just because one or two people were unworthy of your time and effort.
- Focus on your business. A person who will slight you isn’t adding anything to your business. Others you will help in the future, and others you have helped in the past, will add value to your business just as you add value to their businesses.
Undoubtedly getting slighted by a peer is going to bother you for a while. It’s a human reaction. When it happens to you — and in your lifetime, it will happen at least once, and more likely more than once — remember that the situation says more about the person who slighted you than it does about you.
If you don’t get in the ditch with the person who slighted you, people will continue to have a positive opinion of you as a person as well as a business owner or entrepreneur. Rise above the slight, and keep on moving forward in business and in life. As for the other person … he’ll eventually learn from his poor behavior or he’ll wallow in a mire of poor decisions. Either way, what happens to him is not your worry once you walk away from the situation.