Help! I'm an Imposter at Work!
A familiar term (first coined in the late 70’s) which essentially describes a person perfectly qualified for their role, yet doesn’t believe that they are up to the job. For some people, this form of ‘intellectual self-doubt’ may be experienced as the occasional confidence wobble, but for others it can have a more profound and consistent impact on their working lives. People with imposter syndrome tend to be intelligent and high achievers. Often perfectionists, the feelings of self-doubt can creep in when things don’t go as planned. Putting off a task due to a fear of not being prepared is very common, as is a worry that they will look stupid if they don’t have all the answers.
The first step to dealing with imposter syndrome is to admit that you have it.
In a recent article by Bupa, some of the classic signs that you have Imposter Syndrome are:
- Feel like a fake or a fraud
- Never feel good enough
- Feel like you don’t belong
- Are filled with self-doubt
- Feel uncomfortable when people praise you
- Have a habit of playing down your strengths
- Find it hard to take credit for your accomplishments
You may focus on:
- Your mistakes rather than your successes
- Your weaknesses rather than your strengths
- What you don’t know, rather than what you do know
- What you can’t do, rather than what you can do
The article by Bupa also goes on to share some really useful tips on how to overcome these feelings of inadequacy and even turn them to your advantage.
Below is an excerpt from the article:
Raising awareness of imposter syndrome in the workplace can help to normalise it – and help people to recognise it in themselves. If you have imposter syndrome, there are things you can do to change how you think about yourself. You can also help other people by offering support and helping to boost their self-esteem.
5 ways to overcome imposter syndrome
1. Recognise self-doubt
Make a note of when you feel any self-doubt, inadequacy or other signs of imposter syndrome. Think about what led to these thoughts, what you were doing and who was there. Recognise that these are your feelings rather than actual facts – they’re not ‘real’.
2. Talk about it
Talk to people you trust about how you’re feeling – at home, with friends or at work. You could arrange a professional appraisal to speak to your manager about your feelings, or speak to a colleague more informally. Other people may be able to reassure you and help you realise that your feelings of inadequacy are irrational. You may be surprised to find that they feel the same way about themselves too. If you don’t feel you can talk to someone you know, find a counsellor.
3. Recognise your strengths
Write down your strengths and achievements. Think about how your qualifications, experience and expertise have led to where you are now. Keep a record of positive feedback from others, too – read this back to yourself whenever you need a boost.
4. Give yourself credit
When things go well, praise yourself and challenge any negative thoughts. It’s all too easy to attribute success to others, or just to good luck. So when someone gives you a compliment or praises you, accept and enjoy it.
5. Accept perfection is impossible
If things don’t seem to go so well, don’t give yourself a hard time. Mistakes are a natural part of life and learning. If you’re not sure about something, ask for help, rather than beating yourself up for not knowing. Remind yourself that no one – and nothing – is perfect, and that everyone has a different perception of success and perfection. So what you think of as failure or ‘not perfect’ may be a success, or perfect, to someone else with different goals.
You can read the full Bupa article here: Overcoming imposter syndrome | Workplace Wellness | Bupa UK
Finally…recognising imposter syndrome as an advantage
There is also an interesting article written by Peter Rubinstein for the BBC, which suggests that whilst imposter syndrome can shake your confidence, being underqualified for your job may actually give you an advantage over your more confident peers! If you’d like to find out more, you can view the article here:
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