How to Deal with Imposter Syndrome at Work

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Simran Srivastava

06 March 2023

6 Mins

Key Takeaways

At some stage in life, most of us have felt uncertain and unworthy. However, if you still feel insufficient despite your knowledge, diligence, preparation, and successes, you may be experiencing impostor syndrome. This article helps you identify the tell-tale signs you must watch out for and how to deal with them in the workplace.

Have you ever believed that you lack the skills necessary to perform the job for which you were hired and that your boss could discover this at any time? Or perhaps you've thought that everyone else you know has it all figured out while you're just pretending to be an adult who is capable of purchasing a home or raising a child. Learning how to deal with impostor syndrome at work can feel incredibly challenging, but we've got your backs.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

People who suffer from imposter syndrome are very critical of themselves, feel inadequate, and downplay their accomplishments. Because they frequently harbour the false belief that "I am a fraud," they frequently lack a clear understanding of how competent they actually are. The impostor phenomenon, which was first researched in the 1970s by psychologists Suzanne Imes and Pauline Rose Clance, typically affects high achievers who are unable to accept their success. When you're trying something new, like working at your first job, imposter syndrome symptoms are frequently at their worst.

Why does impostor syndrome occur in people? There isn't just one explanation. Some experts think it has to do with personality traits like anxiety or neuroticism, while others place more emphasis on familial or behavioural causes. Childhood experiences that left you feeling like your siblings were always better than you in certain areas or that your grades were never good enough for your parents can sometimes have a lasting effect. External factors, like a person's environment or institutionalized discrimination, can also significantly contribute to the development of impostor feelings.

types of imposter syndrome

How Can You See Instances of Imposter Syndrome in Life?

The signs and symptoms of imposter syndrome can take many different forms.

At work, people who have an imposter mindset frequently blame luck rather than their own skills and work ethic for their success, which may prevent them from asking for a raise or submitting an application for a promotion. They might think they must put in excessive effort to meet the absurdly high standards they have set.

For fear of appearing ignorant to teachers or peers, students may be reluctant to speak up in class or ask questions.

Some people in relationships fear their partner will realize they are not really that great because they feel unworthy of the affection they receive from a significant other. Sometimes people intentionally damage their own relationships in order to end them before the other party can.

8 Ways to Spot and Combat Imposter Syndrome at Work

Recognizing your own potential and accepting responsibility for your accomplishments are the first steps in overcoming imposter syndrome. Building your self-confidence and self-awareness is essential for overcoming imposter syndrome at work. It will be simpler for you to lead your team toward your goals and celebrate the victories you've had along the way the sooner you can accept who you are as you are.

Here are 8 ways that explain how to get over impostor syndrome at work:

  1. Recognize the difference between feelings and reality and accept that not all of your beliefs are true.
  2. One way to overcome a self-defeating attitude is to ask your managers or your coworkers for feedback on how you're doing. The other is to make a note of your accomplishments and comments from others to refer to when you are uncertain.
  3. Instead of comparing your accomplishments to those of others, concentrate on measuring your own.
  4. Interrupt a larger psychological thinking pattern rather than attempting to solve it right away. When you are doing something for someone else, you cannot think about yourself. Offer your services in a concrete, practical way.
  5. Your imposter feelings may occasionally become more understandable if you have a good conversation with a friend or supporter who knows you and believes in you.
  6. Stop holding yourself to unreasonable standards and expectations, and stop attributing your success to luck or other people's assistance. Additionally, it would help if you stopped blaming your own constraints for errors or failures.
  7. Increase your self-assurance by avoiding imposter syndrome in the beginning. Improved self-awareness will enable you to recognize the early warning signs and replace them with thoughts that will help you feel more confident.
  8. A therapist can assist you in identifying imposter syndrome-related emotions and developing new coping mechanisms. At Therapy&Me, we have a range of qualified mental health professionals to help you with your challenges.

imposter syndrome can manifest at the workplace as the following

Although overcoming imposter syndrome won't occur instantly, there are practical ways to fight impostor syndrome from ruining your efforts. It is simple to become preoccupied with your to-do list, overflowing inbox, errors, and flaws to the point where you lose sight of your accomplishments and strengths. Develop strong bonds with your colleagues so that you have people to have lunch with and rely on for support, and even more so as you adjust to being a newcomer.

Share your experience on Now&Me, a peer-support network for you to explore. Talk about your struggles, seek support, and be vocal about your story. You never know; you might find someone struggling with the same thing – and it's always easier to not struggle alone.


Imposters frequently experience overwhelming overwhelm, disappointment, and overgeneralized failure when they are unable to achieve their perfectionist goals. Thus, in the workplace, a cycle develops whereby imposters forbid themselves from accepting praise for their work.

Despite not having a formal diagnosis in the DSM, psychologists and others agree that the impostor phenomenon is a very real and distinct type of intellectual self-doubt. Anxiety and, frequently, depression are frequently accompanied by impostor feelings.

When taking on new responsibilities, it's possible that you won't immediately be successful. You might start to doubt your professional skills as a result and feel incompetent. You can take the time to understand that everyone faces professional challenges and discover ways to deal with these feelings rather than criticizing yourself. Remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes and take small steps toward change.

Remind your friend or colleague of the importance of putting in the effort to combat imposter syndrome as you assist them in taming their inner critic and developing confident humility. Being more self-aware, confident, and resilient on the inside is just as significant as being successful on the outside.

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