Do You Keep Score at Work?


Have you ever worked with someone who “keeps score” with you? You know, that person who always seems to remember the people who owe them something, or who did something bad to them, or how many people they need to get even with? Scorekeepers are people who keep track of how many good things they have done for you, and whether you have reciprocated to their satisfaction. Some scorekeepers will keep an actual list of people who will eventually receive retribution for a perceived wrong. I know this… I used to work with one.

Scorekeepers are brutal to work with. It is exhausting to work with them. And that kind of behavior is completely dysfunctional.

In some ways, having a scorekeeper in your personal life can be even worse. It can be brutal to have a friend in your life who always seems to know what the ledger is between you, who owes whom, who made the last outreach on the phone or text, or whose turn it is to return the favor. It can be brutal to have a friend who always seems to remember how many times he/she has been invited over to your house, and how many times you have been invited to theirs.

Professional or personal relationships with scorekeepers is exhausting… and toxic.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, because one of the pillars of friendship and partnership is forgiveness, and simply giving others a break. If we are going to be a great teammate or colleague, we have to assume the best intentions from others. We have to extend to others the same graciousness we want them to extend to us.

The reason this is in my head this week is not appropriate to share here. Let’s just say that if you are friends with someone, then that’s the end of it. You are their friend. And that means you should be understanding, supportive, gracious and forgiving. Because when you do that for others, they are much more likely to do that for you. And believe me, we all need that kind of understanding at some point. I know I have… many times.

You want to be a great leader in the workplace? You want to be a great teammate? You can certainly hold people to high standards. But holding them to high standards does not require that you also hold a grudge or keep score.

Give them a break… at some point, you’ll need them to do the same for you.

Have a great day.

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Photo by Gerry Dincher used under the following license.


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Dean Brenner

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.