Ask Marie: Taking Credit For One’s Own Brilliance

In this weekly series, Marie Antoinette answers questions on love, life and other complications. To have the queen weigh in on your dilemma, email whatwouldmarieantoinettedo at gmail dot com.

If you do a good deed, like the alms-giving in this painting, and nobody knows, will it ever come back to bite you? Photo from Tea At Trianon.

Dear Marie,

At a meeting at my work, my boss presented my project as her work. I kept thinking she’d mention my role but she never did. The other managers loved the idea and think she’s brilliant and I’m the dead weight beside her. It feels braggy to want the credit, and though I really respected my boss, now I can barely look at her. What do I do?

—The dead weight

My Darling (I refuse to call you Mlle. Dead Weight),

Humility is lovely but not particularly helpful. People who are not burdened by such noble attributes will find a way to exploit those who are.

During my day, the Duc d’Orleans (a cousin of my husband Louis XVI) was so dark hearted he saw the brightside of France’s famine. For several years, the French people suffered from horrible droughts, hail storms and brutal winters that destroyed the  crops. Many good-souled royals always helped, but stepped up to this particular crisis, including: the Duc de Penthièvre, the Duchesse d’Orleans, the Prince of Condé and Princess Lamballe. The King, from his private monies, even purchased one and one half million hundredweight of wheat. But since they didn’t make a show of it, it was as if it never happened.

The Duc d’Orleans did some good works, but only when they’d be visible. He opened soup kitchens and gave money to beggars. The people didn’t imagine he had an ulterior motive (like, say, the throne), they only saw him doing what a leader should, like helping the people.  A later pamphlet accusing the monarchy of hoarding grain seemed perfectly logical since as far as the people knew, we were heartless despots who coolly watched their people starve and led to the march on Versailles in October 1789.

You cannot stop evil people from doing evil, but you can make it more difficult. At the next meeting, speak up when your ideas are presented and make your role in the project clear. If your boss stands up to present, make sure you stand up, too.  If a memo is sent on the project, make sure you write it and you send it. Eventually, your boss will realize that you won’t stand idly by to that sort of treatment. While it’s noble to stand back and let your boss reap your rewards, remember you won’t be at the company long if they don’t realize your value. A little self-promotion never hurt anyone, but none (as I discovered) can be disastrous.

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