"Imposter Phenomenon is related to context. If the context changes, so can experiences of Imposterism. Its socially constructed, so change the social circumstances and the experience may change too."
Professor Dr Terri Simpkin
You may read the phrase “imposter syndrome” and be surprised that there’s a term for something you feel without realising it’s a common thing. Have you ever felt like you’re not good enough for the career you have? Do you doubt yourself and feel like an imposter in the workplace? Do you have a nagging feeling that you’re winging it? You’re not alone.
A huge 77 per cent of the UK experiences imposter syndrome.
Signs of imposter syndrome include:
- Doubting yourself
- Being unable to accurately assess your competence and skills
- Attributing your success to external factors
- Criticising your job performance
- Being afraid of disappointing
Has the pandemic made imposter syndrome worse?
Interestingly, research has found that working from home can mitigate these feelings. According to the University of Nottingham, there was a 75 per cent decrease in feelings of imposter syndrome in 2020 compared to the year before, when we were in the physical office.
Associate Professor Dr. Terri Simpkin, from the University of Nottingham, commented: “Imposter Phenomenon is related to context. If the context changes, so can experiences of Imposterism. It’s socially constructed, so change the social circumstances and the experience may change too.”
Overcoming imposter syndrome
If your feelings of imposter syndrome have subsided, you might be worried about them flaring up again. We’ve got some tips to help you overcome imposter syndrome when you get back to the office while donning your smartest work suits!
Facts over feelings
Focusing on facts over feelings can apply well to many different areas of our lives, but particularly imposter syndrome. When you perform well, are given praise, or are generally getting things done, congratulate yourself for your achievements that you’ve worked hard for. Occasionally, there’ll be times where things don’t go to plan for everyone, and that can be disappointing. But when you perform well, don’t gloss over the moments or downplay it.
We’ve all got to start somewhere
If you’re doing something new at work or are given a new responsibility, don’t put pressure on yourself to master it first time. Everyone has to start somewhere and learn.
Needing additional guidance can make us feel like we’re weak, especially if there was an audience. Clearly, it’s unfair to put that kind of pressure on ourselves, which is why it’s important for us to flip the script.
We need to remember that we all have to start somewhere. We all try and fail before we succeed. There’s nothing worse or more flawed about ourselves than there is about anyone else. Keep that in mind the next time you feel like you’re not learning fast enough.
Talk to your colleagues
If you have friends you feel comfortable opening up to at work, confide in a colleague. If not, speak to your friends outside of work. Chances are, saying your thoughts out loud may help you realise how wrong you are when there’s no evidence of you underperforming at work. Others could be going through the same thing as you.
Take a break from social media
Returning to the office? Cue an influx of LinkedIn posts as workers race to post optimistic and motivational posts about getting an ounce of normality back. Like all social media, LinkedIn can be tough on us if we’re feeling down. People only posts their best and highest achievements rather than the times they’ve failed on a huge project or are struggling to keep up with their workload.
Overcome feelings of fear and anxiety and recognise your successes. Sometimes, this might be difficult. But with 77 per cent of the UK experiencing imposter syndrome, you can take comfort in the fact that the majority of people around you also experience this totally normal feeling. You are not alone, and you are not an imposter.