Tackling imposter syndrome in the workplace


The overwhelming feeling of crippling self-doubt and dread known as Imposter Syndrome has impacted a whopping 62% of people at work, according to a report by Access Commercial Finance.

The survey of over 3,000 adults in the UK shows over two-thirds of women (66%) have suffered from the condition compared to over half of men (56%) within the last 12 months.

This raises a significant question: are women more likely to experience feeling inadequate in the workplace?

International Women’s Day may have come and gone but Instant Offices, an office broking service, delved further into the data.

They looked into why many women experience this adverse phenomenon, and why UK industries have the highest ratio of self-doubters and how employees can beat imposter syndrome at work.

Over the last 20 years, the number of women-owned firms has increased, yet despite the growing number of female entrepreneurs and major global progress towards gender equality in the workplace, more and more successful women are speaking out about the burden of imposter syndrome.

Despite evidence of success, women experiencing this paralysing self-doubt are more likely to believe they are intellectual frauds.

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Don’t let imposter syndrome hold you back from being productive and happy at work

This level of stress – waiting to be found out by peers – can lead to anxiety, burnout and increased unhappiness among everyone from entrepreneurs to employees moving up the ladder.

As research suggests, men suffer 10% less than women, and when considering why women sometimes experience imposter syndrome at a higher rate, factors like workplace inequality and the pay gap may come into play.

Statistics from YouGov reveal that, when asked whether they have had the opportunity to lead on a project at work, only 44% of women said yes, compared to 59% of men. Women are also less likely to have experienced a pay rise or a bonus not connected to promotion, at only 40% compared to 53% of men.

In addition, women say they are also more likely to be asked about their personal lives compared to men.

Even though so many people have experienced imposter syndrome, the good news is that it’s not a permanent condition but rather a reaction to a set of circumstances, unrealistic self-expectation and stress.

Some of the most popular suggestions on ways to turn it around are listed below.

Accept praise and know your self-worth

Don’t shy away from praise and compliments; accept your achievements and, if need be, write them down. When you try to talk yourself out of feeling confident in your role, all the proof is on paper. Knowing your worth means allowing your work to speak for itself and letting others see it, too.

Stop thinking like an imposter

Learn to recognise self-defeating thought patterns and replace them with more positive affirmations. The only way to stop feeling like an imposter is to stop thinking of yourself as one.

Don’t seek perfection

Stop believing that if you don’t excel at every facet of your job that you’re a failure at all of it. Facing challenges and losses is a key part of growth, so recognise that you don’t have to be good at everything.

Know you are not alone

Imposter syndrome tends to be the domain of overachievers, while underachievers tend to internalise less when faced with failure, or the prospect of it. If you’re constantly worried about not being good enough, chances are you’re in good company – most successful people constantly over analyse themselves.