You may read the phrase “imposter syndrome” and be surprised that there’s a phrase 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.
77 per cent of the UK experience imposter syndrome.
Some signs of imposter syndrome are:
- 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
Did the pandemic make 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 compared to the year before, when we were in the physical office.
Associate Professor Dr. Terri Simpkin at the University of Nottingham commented: “Imposter Phenomenon is related to context and so if the context changes so can experience of Imposterism…It’s socially constructed so change the social circumstances and the experience may change too.”
This may not be the case for everyone, however, and some workers may have intensified feelings of self-doubt combined with feeling deflated and isolated when working from home. Remotely working for significant periods of time can impact company culture, social integration, and being in the general thrall of it all. You might feel out of the funk and start to doubt your skills when you’re out of the swing of things.
If you feel like your feelings of imposter syndrome have subsided, but you’re worried about them flaring up again upon return to the office following Boris Johnson’s roadmap to normality, we’ve got some tips to slip back into the swing of things.
Overcoming imposter syndrome
Being so critical of your work performance, even when you do well, can make it hard for you to get some perspective. Here, we look at some steps you can take to overcome imposter syndrome when you get back to the office donning your smartest work suit.
Facts over feelings
We can be prone to letting emotions override logic. 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, praise yourself for your achievements that you’ve worked hard for. Due to your competence, you’ve succeeded, not because of luck or a fluke. 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.
Try not to assume how other people feel about you, for example assuming and feeling like your boss thinks you’re rubbish at your job – you are projecting your own misconceptions about yourself onto others.
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.
Whenever I’ve started a new job or tried something new, I’ve wanted to master it on the first try. Needing additional guidance made me feel like I was weak, especially if there was an audience. Clearly, it’s unfair to put that kind of pressure on ourselves, which it’s why it’s important for us to flip the script.
Instead of feeling as though we need to prove our worth, 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 us 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. Plus, others may be going through the same thing – being honest and open about your feelings to those close to you can have tremendous benefits on your wellbeing.
Take a break from social media
Returning to the office? Queue 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. And like all social media, everyone only posts their best and highest achievements rather than when they’ve failed on a huge project or are struggling to keep up with their workload.
Avoid putting pressure on yourself and take a break from social media, including LinkedIn – unless if your job relies on it. Ease yourself back into it when you’ve settled back into office life and feel ready to see what other people are posting about.
Look at what you’ve accomplished so far in your career and be grateful for all you’ve achieved. Overcome feelings of fear and anxiety and recognise your successes. After all, you’ve kept your job during a pandemic, so continue working as hard as you are!