Many business executives have experienced “imposter syndrome” at some point in their careers. Comparing yourself to colleagues and feeling like you don’t measure up can breed paralyzing self-doubt, which can have a negative impact on your business operations.
Although imposter syndrome is frequently linked to employees in high-pressure tech and commercial contexts, it affects a far broader range of people. Imposter syndrome affects up to 82% of people, including college students, medical professionals, teachers, accountants, and others. Imposter syndrome affects everyone, but according to a report by KPMG, 75% of women in senior positions have experienced imposter syndrome at some point in their professional careers.
Nobody likes to feel like an imposter at work. But the truth is imposter syndrome exists for real. If you’ve ever felt like you don’t fit in or that you don’t deserve your work, you’re not alone.
To combat imposter syndrome at work, you must first believe in yourself and your talents. The sooner you accept yourself for who you are, the easier it will be to celebrate your accomplishments along the way.
This article presents a comprehensive guide about imposter syndrome in the workplace and how to deal with it. Let’s understand what imposter syndrome in the workplace is.
What is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome occurs when you doubt your capacity to execute your work, contribute toyour community, or achieve personal goals. It frequently affects people who feel unworthy of their accomplishments and the high regard in which they are held. People suffering from imposter syndrome frequently worry about being “found out.”
Imposter syndrome was initially described by psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978 while exploring why high-achieving women believe they are inadequate. Although this initial study focused on women, anyone, regardless of gender or professional status, can experience imposter syndrome. And it’s far deeper and more subtle than any single definition can capture.
Signs of Imposter Syndrome
- You’re giving everything you’ve got until you’re exhausted. For example, you could stay late and/or come in early every day.
- Beating yourself up for little faults–when it comes to yourself, you can’t “let the little things go.”
- You may be afraid of being “found out” by your coworkers or employer. Likewise, you may believe you’re deceiving people and feel like a fraud.
- You are unable to accept compliments because you never believe your work is good enough.
- You think your job or career defines your life.
How do you Feel When you Suffer From Imposter Syndrome at Work?
As per an article in the New York Times, this is how you may feel when you suffer from imposter syndrome.
- You feel like a fraud
- You devalue your worth
- You undermine your experience or expertise
Types of Imposter Syndrome
Impostor syndrome manifests itself in five different various ways in humans. Each person’s experience with imposter syndrome is unique. However, there are some characteristics that people may share.
A. The Expert
According to Young, professionals will not be pleased with a task until they believe they know everything about it. This person may spend so much time looking for knowledge that completing activities and projects becomes difficult.
B. The Perfectionist
Perfectionists frequently suffer significant levels of anxiety, doubt, and worry, particularly when they set extremely difficult goals for themselves that they cannot meet. Rather than celebrating their accomplishments, a perfectionist would focus on areas where they could have done better.
C. The Natural Genius
Natural geniuses can learn many new talents quickly and readily, but when faced with a difficult goal, they may feel ashamed and inadequate.
D. The Soloist
The soloist is a dedicated individualist who wants to work independently. The soloist may be afraid that asking for help will expose their inadequacy. They may refuse and discourage help in order to show their self-worth.
E. The Superhero
The superhero frequently shines because of tremendous effort and overwork. This person is more prone to burnout, which impacts physical and mental health and interpersonal relationships.
How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome?
Forbes Coaches Council shares 15 ways to deal with imposter syndrome. Let’s discuss them one by one.
#1 Never go away from the reality
The first step to getting over imposter syndrome is to become aware of your negative beliefs. You know, the ones where you assume your coworkers think you’re stupid and take every scowl or lack of lunch invitations as confirmation of that truth.
When this type of thinking arises, it is critical to acknowledge it as a thought rather than a fact. Rather than getting drawn into negative thinking, make it a self-affirming statement.
Our emotional state impacts our perception. If you’re worried about a tight deadline or a difficult assignment, worry and self-doubt may be your go-to emotions. You must accurately notice your own feelings and triggers in order to develop effective coping techniques.
#2 Understand your strengths and weaknesses
It’s easy to become so preoccupied with your to-do list, overflowing emails, blunders, and flaws that you overlook your own talents and accomplishments. Make another list, this time of all the abilities and accomplishments that make you particularly qualified for your job, so it’s at the forefront of your mind when you’re having a terrible day.
Another technique to protect yourself from negative thinking is to keep a work notebook in which you record any good comments you receive. According to Steve Pritchard, a human resources consultant for the clothing brand Ben Sherman, creating an email folder to organize all the positive emails you receive from colleagues and clients is a good idea.
#3 Create a support network to get over imposter syndrome
The worst thing that people suffering from imposter syndrome can do is isolate themselves from honest and affirming comments from others. But that doesn’t help much. Instead, work hard to develop relationships with your coworkers so that you have somebody to go to lunch with and count on for advice, especially as a newbie.
Another relationship you should cultivate is with your boss. Don’t wait until your yearly performance evaluation to acquire your boss’s opinion on your job. Inquire about what you’ve done well and what you could improve on.
It is normal to not know everything whenstarting a new job or a new career. Managers value someone who is curious, eager to learn, and asks insightful questions.
Once you’ve established a trustworthy network, you won’t be hesitant to seek advice from your coworkers if you’re unclear on how to approach a task. Instead of being stuck and feeling like an imposter, seek assistance if you are unsure what to do.
#4 Gather as much knowledge as possible
Overcoming imposter syndrome will not happen quickly, but there are definite steps you can take to avoid it. Do you know the expression “knowledge is power?” That is correct. The more you understand about your job and industry, as well as your professional development, the more power you will have at your disposal. And when you have power, you won’t allow imposter syndrome to hold you back any longer.
#5 Find ways to boost yourself on your own
“Nothing succeeds like success,” they say. You can regain your confidence by recalling all the ways you’ve made a difference. List your most significant achievements. Where have you made an impact? When was the last time you contributed significantly? What was your most recent big win? This will assist you in seeing yourself as others view you—as a valuable contributor who deserves to be in the room.
#6 Look for a mentor
At some point in their work, everyone finds themselves in a new scenario. Finding a competent mentor who has experienced it before can make all the difference. As an experienced person, the mentor can offer strategic ideas, support, encouragement, and constructive criticism based on their own experience, as well as act as a sounding board.
#7 Develop Self-Awareness
To begin, boost your confidence by not succumbing to impostor syndrome. By increasing your self-awareness, you can detect the early signals of impostor syndrome in your thoughts and replace them with confidence-building notions. Without a high level of self-awareness, self-defeating thoughts will invade and take over your mind before you know it.
#8 Look for Confidence Outside of the Workplace
Everyone may boost their confidence in a variety of ways, not only at work. They can participate in extracurricular activities through professional organizations, children’s sports, nonprofits, and so on. They can establish teams, hone their leadership skills, and acquire confidence by organizing and directing programs, initiatives, and events. These abilities translate nicely back into the workplace.
#9 Acknowledge the feelings, validate them, & then let them go
Just because your interpretations of an incident are stories (rather than facts) does not invalidate your sentiments. Ignoring your emotions isn’t the answer to overcoming imposter syndrome. Rather, the best method to combat this sensation is to accept that you’re feeling bad, verify that it’s okay, and then let those sentiments go if they’re unfounded.
#10 Face it
Sometimes confronting imposter syndrome is the best way to combat it. Celebrate the next time you feel you’ve performed something well! Share your accomplishment with your team if you feel comfortable doing so.
When you accomplish an excellent job, it does not confine you to doing this. Make a list of the traits and skills you have. These can be specific to your role, such as being an excellent salesperson, or more general to who you are, such as always being available to your team members.
What Must Organizations do to Avoid Employees Experiencing Imposter Syndrome?
- Employers must promote affirmation and recognize achievements in the workplace.
- Create an inclusive culture in which people feel safe speaking up without fear of being labeled as inept.
- Show your staff what it’s like to work as a human being by demonstrating good stress management, self-compassion, and empathy.
The Upside of Imposter Syndrome
There are a number of existing recommendations to help workers try to overcome their imposter syndrome feelings. However, an article titled “The Hidden Uupside of Imposter Syndrome” on the BBC shows that the true purpose should be to challenge the underlying belief that imposter syndrome is harmful.
The article further states that imposters can surpass their non-imposter peers in interpersonal skills by leaning into emotions of inadequacy. Instead of resisting or overcoming imposter syndrome in the workplace, they put extra effort into communication, which ultimately benefits them in the long run.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What is an example of imposter syndrome?
Here is an example of what it’s like to experience imposter syndrome: You’ve been in a certain role for a few months, but when others refer to you by your formal title, you feel like a phony since you haven’t mastered it.
Q2. How do I stop feeling like an imposter at work?
Discuss it. There is no award for coping with imposter syndrome alone, so seek help from reliable friends or coworkers. Many people suffer from impostor syndrome, although it is usually kept a secret. Use those in your trusted circle as sounding boards for your own impostor beliefs.
Q3. Should I tell my boss that I have imposter syndrome?
According to a recent HubSpot study, 69% of employees who suffer from imposter syndrome seek positive and useful comments about their performance. Speaking with your boss/manager can assist you in working toward your goals and breaking them down into small tasks to tackle one at a time.
Q4. What triggers imposter syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is most likely caused by a combination of variables, including personality qualities and family history. According to one idea, imposter syndrome is found in households that place high importance on accomplishment above all else.
Q5. How do you treat someone with imposter syndrome?
First, validate your coworkers/employees as human beings with inherent worth and accept them unconditionally. Second, acknowledge and applaud their accomplishments.
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