Imposter syndrome is more than feeling like you don’t quite cut it at work – it is a deep-seated feeling of inadequacy which can affect aspects of life far beyond the office. Research from media outlet UM suggests that 77 per cent of adults in the UK suffer from imposter syndrome, but also that only 15 per cent knew what the syndrome was before they were surveyed.
With so many people feeling this way, it is important to understand what imposter syndrome is, and how to face it. According to a report assembled by Charles Tyrwhitt, the primary signs of imposter syndrome are self-doubt, attributing one’s success to external factors, being overly critical of one’s own performance, and being afraid of disappointing bosses and colleagues.
Research from the University of Nottingham suggests that imposter syndrome can be mitigated by working from home in some cases, away from an overly stressful office environment. They measured a 75 per cent decrease in cases of imposter syndrome from 2019-2020, despite the lockdowns and possibly due to working from home. Dr. Terri Simpkin who is an Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham explained why this can be the case.
“Imposter Phenomenon is related to context,” Simpkin says. “If the context changes, so can experiences of Imposterism. It’s socially constructed, so change the social circumstances and the experience may change too.”
For some, working from home can increase feelings of self-doubt. It depends on if you are someone who needs the community element of office-based work to keep in “the groove” and feel like part of a team, or if you are someone who prefers to avoid the natural comparison between employees which happens in an office setting. Some need the camaraderie, but with it can come competition.
The report suggests that one of the best ways to combat imposter syndrome is to examine your achievements objectively. This means not only recognising the tangible things that you have achieved, but also avoiding qualifying those achievements with mental statements which remove your role in that success. These could come in the form of statements such as, “Yes, I was part of the project, but the others contributed more than I,” or, “It went OK, but I still feel that another employee would have done a more thorough job.”
Imposter syndrome can affect all workers, young and old, new hires and long-time employees. A general rule of thumb is this; If you have a job, they wouldn’t have hired you for that position without reason, so therefore you must have been the best candidate. Sometimes doubting the quality of one’s work can come with a healthy sense of drive to improve, but once it becomes debilitating, it is time to take a step back and address the issue.
Credit: Charles Tyrwhitt (https://www.charlestyrwhitt.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-CTShirts-EU-Site)