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Do You Suffer from Imposter Syndrome at Work? Part Two

Updated: Oct 27, 2023

Do you find it hard to believe in your own capabilities at work? You may be suffering from a legitimate condition called Imposter Syndrome.

In Part One, we looked at what Imposter Syndrome is and how it can completely debilitate your confidence in the workplace. We’re looking at the causes, the effects, and how you flip the narrative in your favour with a few simple strategies.

One of the most common causes for Imposter Syndrome is to have a constant feeling of not wanting to ask for help. It’s a vicious circle. You don’t want to appear like you don’t know what’s expected of you, so you never learn properly and therefore underline and reinforce your Imposter Syndrome identity. Don’t be shy about admitting when you don’t know something or that you made a mistake. Here’s the counterintuitive thing about this: It makes you look more confident and in control. If you can’t do this, you signal that you’re insecure and battling to protect your reputation - because you don’t really trust it and feel it’s precarious. People who are truly confident in what they have to offer have no problem asking for advice, or admitting they don’t know something or that they made a mistake. And it makes them a lot more credible. Think about experts who you really respect. The chances are they have no problem speaking out when they don’t know something or asking for other’s input. Real experts know they don’t need to have all the answers; people don’t expect them to. Model yourself after them. Makes sense, right?

Are you the sort of person who is so afraid of making mistakes that you over think everything – then get it wrong anyway? This thereby perpetuates the myth that any forward strides you make are flukes and down to your own talent. You need to step back. Perspective matters. It’s like a Van Gogh field of sunflowers painting — up close, it seems like a bunch of wild brush strokes that don’t seem to make sense, but from a distance, their true beauty and value are revealed to us. So, it can be with our own lives and careers.

We often de-value the positive impact we have on others. If it was someone else’s life, we could see it objectively. Try and gain some subjectivity on your own. Take the time to look at the overarching objectives of the task in front of you. Know that you can do it or you wouldn’t have been given it to do in the first place.

Another strategy you may want to consider is putting your best forward even if that little voice in your head insists you’re a fake. Even if you aren’t feeling totally sure of yourself and your abilities, it’s important you present yourself otherwise. That means shifting your body language to portray confidence. So, while you may be so nervous before your big interview or meeting that you want to curl into a ball, resist the temptation to cower or make yourself smaller, and walk in with your head held high. The best news is that simple shift in body language can not only trick others into believing your confidence, but it can change how you perceive yourself as well. There is research into body language and how simply tweaking the way we carry ourselves can significantly change the way our lives unfold. There is evidence to show that by ‘power posing’ for just two minutes, people were able to raise hormones associated with leadership and perform significantly better in high-stress situations - meaning it’s possible to use powerful body language to not just act more confident, but to actually be more confident.

The thing about impostor syndrome is to realise that just like everything else we do – it’s a choice. If you choose to believe that you are a fake when you know deep down you have the talent for the job you are in – then that’s a choice you’re making, and it’s a terrible one. Whatever we focus on the most will intensify over time, so focus on the good. It’s what we tell ourselves that really matters, so stop running yourself down. Challenge and change those thoughts, so you can change your life. As we said in Part One, you’re not an imposter, you’re the real deal.



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