Imposter syndrome: Do you suffer from it?

Is public speaking difficult for you? Do you attribute your professional success to luck? You may suffer from impostor syndrome.

Imposter Syndrome: Do you suffer from it?
© Narisara Nami / Getty Images
Imposter Syndrome: Do you suffer from it?

According to a survey conducted by HR News, 85% of British workers suffer from imposter syndrome.

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Imposter syndrome or phenomenon?

The disorder was first theorised in 1978 by American psychologists Suzanne Imes and Pauline Rose Chance, who then named it ‘impostor phenomenon’. The subject has since fuelled hundreds of research studies on the subject.

Whether it is a ‘phenomenon’ or ‘syndrome’ has yet to be decided. Is it something that lasts for a lifetime, that you have to live with, or is it a disorder that manifests itself at certain stages of your life? This is one of the questions that has yet to be answered.

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Imposter Syndrome: Do you suffer from it?  KatarzynaBialasiewicz / Getty Images

Do you suffer from impostor syndrome?

Do you feel you are deceiving others about your skills at work? Do you believe you're only successful due to luck? Do you find it difficult to speak up in meetings?

Impostor syndrome is difficult to define precisely because it is based on personal feelings of doubt. Therefore, it is sometimes hard to know if you are affected by it. In fact, according to HR News' survey, only 25% of people are aware they have imposter syndrome.

If you think you might have imposter syndrome, here are the best methods to overcome it:

  • Don’t confuse the way you feel for facts—you might feel bad at your job but that doesn’t mean you are.
  • Consider that many other people feel imposter syndrome too, those who you believe to be entirely competent—perhaps that's the way they see you!
  • Try not to second guess yourself when people ask for your opinion. You were hired for a reason!
  • It’s ok to say 'I don’t know'—it's impossible to know everything and you can always try to find out the answer.
  • Be kind to yourself–you are human and humans make mistakes. Try to learn from it and move on.
  • List and celebrate your successes, even the small wins. Focusing on your achievements is an important way of overcoming imposter syndrome.
  • Fake it until you make it - the best way to become an expert is to pretend to be one until you are!
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