imposter syndrome in the workplace.
Updated: Jun 25
Defined as "a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success", imposter syndrome affects 62% of UK adults.
the difference between imposter syndrome and self-doubt.
Self-doubt is a characteristic of imposter syndrome so it is easily self-diagnosed, but there are more signs that you're experiencing more than self-doubt in the workplace.
don't ignore the signs.
You might not experience all of the signs below, but they're a good indicator of imposter syndrome. If you have the majority, make sure you read our advice to help combat your feelings and speak to loved ones or a professional for extra help.
Difficulty accepting praise
a feeling that you aren't worthy of the praise you're receiving. Not to be confused with false modesty, this is a true belief.
Discounting your success
relating your success to others or external factors.
a constant investment of time and energy into your work, longer than acceptable by others.
Compulsion to be the best
you may have left education being a high achiever and entered the workplace feeling intimated by the talented people around you.
you hold yourself to an impossible standard of perfection, expecting to complete every task flawlessly.
Paralyzing fear of failure
failure is not an option and the more successful you get, the stakes of failing get greater.
Lack of exuded confidence
a more common sign in women. You believe if you express confidence, people will judge you and you don't believe you have the intelligence to back the confidence.
you recognise success may lead to more responsibility and advancement which you don't believe you're worthy of in the first place.
A focus on what you haven't done
you create your own milestones which you can't meet.
Convinced yourself you're not enough
you believe you're a phony, a fraud. You think people are suddenly going to realise you can't do your job.
combatting these feelings.
The first step to overcoming imposter syndrome is to acknowledge these thoughts and your chronic self-doubt. By reframing how you see yourself you can put things in perspective better and observe your feelings from an outsiders viewpoint.
Record your successes
everytime you achieve something at work, no matter how small your mind tells you it is, write it down. Even if it was just a really well-worded email, write it down. Review these successes at the end of every work day, and then every month, until you start to understand you're not constantly failing.
Focus on yourself
stop spending so much time looking at others achievements, try to focus solely on you, even if you think you're falling behind. When you stop comparing yourself, the pressure to reach everyone else's level of working is eradicated and you can work at your own pace.
Talk to your coworkers, friends and family
Chances are that the majority of your peers are experiencing, or have experienced, feelings of self-doubt at least. By sharing how you feel, others can both understand the pressures your facing and can help you through it. By talking to your coworkers, they may help you notice the successes you are achieving and give you the credit you deserve.