Lately, my work-life balance has seriously gone down the drain. On top of that, my boss has been taking all the credit for my work. Even though I've tried working even harder to get noticed, somehow, she still manages to present my work as her own. Should I just grin & bear it, or is it time to speak up?
Routh Chadwick, Licensed Master in Social Work
"This is a common dilemma among women — much more so than men — so you’re not alone. Women are famous for selling themselves short in the workplace. Often, they wait to be given credit where credit is due, but that can mean going years without promotions, raises or recognition. Don't let this happen to you. Women have historically been cast as supporters of other people, and often don’t realize just how much they are putting everyone else ahead of themselves, sabotaging their own success. I hate to quote every awful reality show ever, but you didn't get that job to make friends, you got there to be number one! (Or whatever, they used to say on Top Model.)
So, my answer is: It's time to have a conversation with your boss. It doesn’t have to be accusatory, but can simply outline your accomplishments, how you are an asset to the team, how you have gone above and beyond, and that you would appreciate being more involved in the execution of the ideas. The worst that can happen is that she ignores you, but it sounds like you're being ignored anyway, so why not take the shot? Everyone deserves to have her hard work acknowledged through compensation, verbal recognition, or otherwise. If you're nervous about approaching her, practice beforehand with a co-worker or a friend who has been through something similar. Ultimately, asking for what you deserve will get you what you want more often than you would think. If you don’t ask, you will never know, and your resentment will continue to build. This is an opportunity for you to practice what is one of the most important kinds of conversations you can have — at work and in life."
"Let's break this into two separate things: life balance and the issue with your boss. While it's fair to want to act out your frustration, it is also important to imagine the end goal of having 'the talk' with your boss. Coming into her office crying won't get you very far, but there is an art to getting what you want in the work place, so let's strategize about the best way to make your move.
First, while you're probably ready to kick her door in by now, it would be best to wait until the anger has subsided before addressing the issue. Set up a time for you guys to talk, instead of waiting until it happens again and you get even more upset. Often, a calm discussion about expectations can address some miscommunications and allow the parties involved to forge a new working relationship. Lead with a compliment and enthusiasm: "I'm so glad that you value my ideas and feel lucky that I actually get to make a difference here!" She'll be more receptive to your concerns and will hopefully acknowledge your drive. That said, if she isn't open to a discussion, or doesn't stop stealing your thunder, it might be time to start looking around to see what else is out there.
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Second, though a mindful balance of work and life is important, your job is a part of life, not something completely separate, so it's up to you to not let the stress dominate your time. Plus, you actually sound pretty connected to your job, and most importantly, good at it! The fact is, your job will eventually leak over into your personal life, so if your work dynamics or your boss is making you miserable 8-plus hours of the day, something has to change. I'm not saying pack your plant and kick in the door to the HR office (what is it with you and kicking in doors?), but really think about what might make the idea exchange with your boss more equitable, and also whether it's even worth trying to make better. Remember that you're not alone — almost everyone on the corporate ladder goes through this at some point or another — so learn your lessons, earn your stripes, and rent Working Girl with Melanie Griffith. Also, breathe, take a step back, and welcome a new perspective... one that reminds you to keep calm, carry on and stay employed!"
Have a burning question? Leave your dilemma in the comments, and we'll get our therapists on the case!