Feel Like A Fraud At Work? How To Deal With “Imposter Syndrome”

By Amy @BubbleJobs

Unless you’re supremely confident, at some point or another you’ll probably have had doubts about your ability to do your job and to deliver what’s expected of you. Now, whilst this isn’t uncommon and these feelings of self-doubt normally shift after a few weeks/months, for some people those feelings are much more overbearing and can be extremely hard to shake.

For a lot of people, they just can’t seem to get rid of the feeling that they’re actually not that talented – and that they’ve just landed their current job as a result of luck, timing or by tricking someone into thinking they’re more intelligent/talented than they actually are. In these cases, a lot of employees feel like they’re frauds and are constantly worried that their lack of suitability for the role will be revealed and they’ll be exposed as a fake at any second.

It might sound extreme but this is actually a real condition. It’s known as ‘Imposter Syndrome’ and is extremely common, particularly in women – and in fact some of the biggest names in digital, such as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, are thought to suffer from it.

If any of the above sounds familiar, there’s a chance you might have the condition – and while there’s no quick fix, there are a few things you can do to deal with these feelings of severe self-doubt in the workplace.

1. Remember That You’re Not Alone:

OK, that sounds a bit cheesy – but what I mean by that is that Imposter Syndrome is extremely common and just because you don’t see any of your colleagues doubting themselves and their abilities, it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. A lot of people with Imposter Syndrome ‘fake it ’til they make it’ – and by that I mean they fake the confidence until they actually get it – so this is something that your colleagues could be doing.

If you put on a confident face, there’s a chance that you’ll feel more confident and your feelings of self-doubt might start to disappear. Remember, if you can’t show that you have confidence in yourself, how can anyone else have confidence in you?!

2. Remember That No One’s Perfect:

Can’t stop thinking about that mistake you made on your last campaign? It’s time to get over it. Seriously, no one’s perfect – and mistakes get made (that’s why keyboards have delete/backspace buttons after all!) – so you need to stop beating yourself up and move on. Remember, being wrong about something doesn’t make you a fraud, it makes you a human being with your own opinions. Your boss knows that you’re a human and not a robot so at some point or another they’re going to expect you to make a mistake – and when you do, they’ll probably accept it and move on – so you should too.

Like I said on the last point, everyone makes mistakes and just because you don’t see your colleagues shouting about their screw-ups, that doesn’t mean they aren’t making them!

3. Look At What You’ve Achieved:

When you’re seriously low on confidence it can be easy to just dwell on your mistakes and all the times you’ve done something wrong in your career – but you need to stop and start considering everything that you’ve achieved. While you might be able to attribute one or two of your successes to luck or flukes, there’s no way they can all be attributed to that – so you need to remember that it’s your talent, hard work and skills that have attributed to the rest.

Make a list of all your successes and achievements and keep it close to hand eg. in your desk, in your bag or even on your desktop – so you have it ready and waiting next time those intense feelings of self-doubt start to creep in.

On the bottom of this list, you could also add some recommendations or some previous positive comments that you’ve received either from your boss or a previous employer/co-worker/client. The important thing to remember with these comments is that no one forced them to say these nice things about you. They said them because they wanted to – so try and keep this in mind!

4. Re-Assess Your Goals:

Another way to deal with the dreaded Imposter Syndrome is to re-assess your goals and your expectations. If you set yourself unrealistic goals, it’s no wonder that you feel like you’re failing all the time – because you’re essentially setting yourself up to fail. Take a step back and have a think about what it is that you genuinely want to achieve. When doing this it’s important not to look at anyone else when setting your career goals. Why? Because everyone’s different and everyone has a different career path – and by comparing yourself to others, you again run the risk of doubting your ability and expertise and thinking that you’re not as good as everyone else.

5. Talk About It:

Think talking about feeling like a failure is another sign that you’re a failure? It really isn’t – and it could do you some good. If you talk to someone about the way you’re feeling, you might be surprised to find out that they feel the same way too. By talking through your concerns, you might find that it’s actually quite therapeutic – and if you talk to your boss about it, they might end up throwing lots of compliments your way – which is never going to be a bad thing for your self-esteem!


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