I’m talking about what to do when someone copies you on The Goal Digger Podcast today. Being copied totally stinks, in fact, it’s far more common, now more than ever thanks to social media and all of the easy access we have to content. Every day we are scrolling and consuming ideas and sometimes we are more influenced than we think or recognized by that consumption.
If I were paid a quarter every time I was copied or ripped off, I’d be sitting back on the beaches of Hawaii and retired – BUT, I know without question that I have also made bad decisions, imitated, duplicated and copied others both consciously and subconsciously throughout the years. So I first want to preface this with the fact that I am guilty as well, but I think it’s time to have an uncomfortable conversation about what to do when someone copies you (or you’re convinced they did!) because if we are being honest, it feels icky.
First, you notice someone copied you:
You notice someone copied you, even worse, that someone is a friend. Before you jump to conclusions, I want for you to take a step back, sign off, and go on a walk. When we get out in nature, sometimes it helps us see that we are just a tiny speck on this planet and that some of our biggest problems are actually pretty small. You need to determine if this is something that requires legal action (Is it impacting your bottom line? Your ability to do business?) if that answer is yes, seeking legal advice would be your first step, if not, proceed with caution below.
Next, I want you to draft an email:
I want for you to draft an email – I would tell you that an email might be the best route instead of a text or a Facebook message or anything of the sort. Put YOUR name in the “to” field and type an email to the person you feel has copied you. First express that you noticed, next explain why you are hurt or frustrated, then propose an action plan. Trust me, I didn’t always address things like this, but instead of pointing fingers, lead off your sentences with “I” and not “you” because no one can tell you that you aren’t feeling certain things.
Then, sit on it for a solid 24 hours:
Sit on it for a solid 24 hours or have someone close to you (specifically outside of the industry) read your message to make sure you aren’t too emotionally charged or accusatory. After that 24 hours, heck, you might feel better and be able to let it go without clicking send. That waiting period is important because it’s easy to let our emotions take over in the heat of the moment. My tip here is this: if you know you will feel bitter, your heart is hardened, or your relationship will be different if this isn’t addressed, it’s important to follow up and face it. IF you feel like you can let go, move on, and do the work, then do that. You might need to take small steps in “hiding their posts” or unfollowing BUT that’s on you, that’s not on them if you choose to not take action.
Here’s what happens next:
I feel like we can go in the direction of choose your own adventure here (did anyone else read those books?)
- They respond, apologize, and you two can work together to formulate a plan: this has happened to me on numerous occasions. The person apologizes, acknowledges the mistake, and then shares an action plan to remedy the situation. Depending on the extent of the copying or what material was actually recreated, there are a few directions this can go.
- They respond and deny the act of copying. Hey, there have been way too many times in my life that I have had the exact same idea as someone else and to be honest, I think this happens a LOT, especially because we are all consuming a lot of the same things these days. In this case, you at least expressed how you were feeling and it’s time to put your head back down and do YOUR best work. What a challenge to truly differentiate yourself.
- They don’t respond at all. Yup, the evil crickets take rest in your inbox and goodness, that’s hard. This is where you’re really tested in your ability to move the heck on. Your life is too short, your business needs YOUR attention, and you’re faced with some decisions on where to leave your heart in this. My prayer is that 1 or 2 will happen so you at least hear back, but if this is where it stands, this might be the end of the conversation (one that never really happened!) SO, your only option here is to put your energy back into your work.
For me, I get copied all the time (and like I said, I know without question I have also copied people.) I have learned that if I know it’s going to change the way I feel about someone, harm my business, or stream roll my ability to move forward with MY idea, then I need to address it. Once I put how I am feeling out there to the person who I believe copied me, I have to let it go. The longer you fester, the longer you are pulled from doing your best work.
Trust me, it’s hard, it really is, but the longer I’ve been doing this and the more this happens, the more I realize and understand that my energy can do two things: dwell, wish, be bitter, OR it can focus on putting out the best work I can do and making sure it’s mine and mine alone. Being copied straight up sucks! If you’re not sure if you’re copying someone or if someone inspires you to do something (that might be somewhat similar to what inspired you in the first place) my advice is this: reach out, tell them, and share your idea. Be up front with your plans and open to feedback.