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:
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.”
This may not be the case for everyone, however, and some workers may have experienced intensified feelings of self-doubt combined with feeling deflated and isolated when working from home. Working remotely for significant periods of time can impact company culture, social integration, and being in the general swing 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 your feelings of imposter syndrome have subsided, you might be worried about them flaring up again upon return to the office following Boris Johnson’s roadmap to normality. We’ve got some tips to help you overcome imposter syndrome when you get back to the office while donning your smartest work suits!
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, congratulate 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 make assumptions about how other people feel about you, for example assuming your boss thinks you’re rubbish at your job. You are projecting your own misconceptions about yourself onto others.
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 we start a new job or try something new, we want to master it on the first try. 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.
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 ourselves than there is about anyone else. Keep that in mind the next time you feel like you’re not learning fast enough.
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 and theirs.
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.
Avoid putting pressure on yourself and take a break from social media, including LinkedIn – unless your job relies on it. Ease yourself back into it when you’ve settled back into office life and you 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. 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.