Identifying imposter syndrome: Types, causes, and best 14 ways to deal with it


Rachita Jain


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In a remote setting, impostor syndrome may be more severe. You tend to withdraw into your own mind when there is less human interaction. And when you lack the immediate feedback provided by others people's body language and other subtle forms of communication, your self-limiting thoughts frequently take control. That could result in confirmation bias, a dangerous trend where people look for data to support their unfavorable opinions.
The International Journal of Behavioural Science estimates that 70% of people have experienced imposter syndrome at some point in their lives. The issue becomes more serious when we discover that people like Sheryl Sandberg, Tom Hanks, and Serena Williams have also gone through it.
So what are the probable solutions to the imposter syndrome?
How to deal with imposter syndrome?
Is dealing with imposter syndrome at work even possible?
Before getting ahead and talking about solutions, let's first understand what imposter syndrome is.

What is imposter syndrome?

Impostor syndrome, also known as the belief that "I'm not qualified for this job and someday people will find out," has been linked to poor work output, low job satisfaction, and employee burnout.
It is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, accomplishments, or talents and fears being exposed as a "fraud". People with imposter syndrome may feel like they don't deserve their success or that they have somehow fooled others into thinking they are more competent than they are.

Types of imposter syndrome

  • The Perfectionist: This kind of imposter syndrome involves the conviction that people could have performed better if they were perfectly perfect. Such type of feeling makes them feel like they are not as good as they think they are.
  • The Expert: This type feels like they need to know everything, and they fear being exposed as a fraud if they don't have all the answers. They may avoid situations where they feel like they don't have complete knowledge or expertise.
  • The Soloist: People with Soloist imposter syndrome prefer to work alone and feel they need to accomplish everything independently. They may resist asking for help or delegating tasks to others, even when doing so would be more efficient or effective.
  • The Superhero: This type feels like they need to excel in all areas of their life, such as their career, family, and personal relationships. They may overwork themselves, neglect self-care, and feel guilty if they take time for themselves.
  • The Outsider: This type feels like they don't belong or fit in, even if they are in a position of authority or have achieved success. They may feel like they are an imposter because they don't share the same background, education, or experiences as others in their field.
So how do you know that you have imposter syndrome in the workplace? Scroll down to know!

How to identify if you have imposter syndrome in the workplace?

Self-doubt: Feeling unsure about your abilities or accomplishments, despite evidence to the contrary.
Fear of Failure: Fear to take risks or try new things because you fear failure or being exposed as a fraud.
Perfectionism: Setting excessively high standards and feeling like anything less than perfect is a failure.
People pleaser: You put more effort into doing what other people want from you and anticipate approval.
Unhealthy comparisons: You often complain about how others received promotions, higher salaries, or more excellent education than you. You strive for excellence.
Overachieving: Working excessively hard to prove yourself and feeling like you can never do enough.
Dismissing success: Dismissing or downplaying your accomplishments, attributing them to luck or external factors rather than acknowledging your hard work and ability.
Seek constant feedback: To find ways to develop and feel sufficient, you look for mentors' and peers' feedback that is external confirmation of your performance.
Self-sabotage: Engaging in behaviors that undermine your success, such as procrastination, self-criticism, or avoiding challenges.
Work harder than required: To mask your emotions of inadequacy, you overwork, leading to poor time management.

Why may imposter syndrome be heightened when working remotely?

1. Lack of feedback: When working remotely, receiving feedback from colleagues or managers can be more challenging, leading to self-doubt and uncertainty about one's abilities.
Working remotely implies being scattered, perhaps across time zones and various nations. Your boss or coworker might occasionally be sleeping off while you're at work. Therefore, there are fewer opportunities to give encouraging feedback when working remotely, which might lead to feelings of inadequacy.
2. Isolation: Your ideas are louder when working remotely because you are alone. Since there are no coworkers nearby to talk to, you are more inclined to speak to yourself. Despite the rise of Zoom meetings, a lot of work is still done by email, where it can be challenging to figure out tone and nuance. It will be simpler to doubt your performance if you are contributing enough or even whether you deserve that raise or promotion. This is because it is difficult to demonstrate how you are significantly enhancing your team's performance, division, and, ultimately, your organization.
3. Blurred boundaries: Remote work can blur the boundaries between work and personal life, which can cause individuals to feel like they are not doing enough in either area, leading to self-doubt and imposter syndrome.
4. Improper goal communication: When team or project goals are not clearly stated, it can occasionally lead to self-doubt. Additionally, you'll feel trapped if you're a soloist and perfectionist. You go around in circles and achieve nothing because you believe that asking for assistance or clarification is a sign of weakness. As a result, you wind up committing mistakes that you could have avoided if you had asked your coworkers, the project manager, or the project leader for help.
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5. Increased responsibility: When working remotely, individuals may have more autonomy and responsibility, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy or imposter syndrome.
6. Undue focus on mistakes: Self-criticism is a crucial characteristic of impostor syndrome. You put all the responsibility and fault for a mistake on your shoulders. You frequently have the impression that you are the only one slacking off and falling on the job. You become hesitant to try because you worry, "What if I mess up again?" You also hesitate to admit errors out of embarrassment.
7. Fear of being exposed: When working remotely, individuals may feel like they are more likely to be exposed as a fraud, as they may not have the same level of face-to-face interaction with colleagues or managers.

How to deal with imposter syndrome

1. Recognize and acknowledge your feelings

The first step in dealing with imposter syndrome is to recognize and acknowledge your feelings of self-doubt or inadequacy. Be aware of your negative self-talk and try to challenge it with more positive and realistic self-talk.
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2. Reframe your thinking

Try to reframe your thinking from a negative mindset to a more positive one. Instead of focusing on your mistakes or failures, focus on your successes and accomplishments.

3. Challenge your doubts

Do you genuinely have any evidence to support your doubts?
Find evidence to refute your beliefs! If you feel like you're not doing a good job, consider whether you routinely receive praise and acknowledgment for your efforts. If you do, you're probably taking every precaution in the right way. Talk to your employer about creating a "support" channel if your team doesn't already have one so you may express your gratitude to one another.

4. Communicate with your team

Make an effort to communicate with your colleagues and managers regularly. Schedule video calls or phone meetings to discuss your work and progress and to ask for feedback.

5. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness techniques such as meditation, yoga, pranayama, or deep breathing can help you stay focused and calm, even in stressful situations.
  • You don't have to start with long meditation sessions. Start with a few minutes of mindfulness each day, and gradually build up over time.
  • Guided meditations can be helpful for beginners who are new to mindfulness.
  • Many apps and websites offer free guided meditations to help you get started.

6. Connect with others

Find ways to connect with others who share your interests or work in your field. Join online communities or attend virtual networking events to meet new people and learn from others. Share your issues with them. It will help you get good guidance. And if not, at least it'll help you release negative thoughts.

7. Ask for help

Resist the impulse to handle things on your own! Reach out to your coworkers who are located far away for aid and guidance; you never know, they might realize they need your assistance as well. Instead of making it public, you can do this by using a private chat channel. Your coworkers can help you out, affirm your qualities, and support your efforts to develop.

8. Focus on your strengths

Identify your strengths and focus on them rather than dwelling on your weaknesses. Use your strengths to your advantage in your work and personal life.
  • Remind yourself that you are valuable and bring unique skills and perspectives to your team.
  • By recognizing your value, you can build your confidence and feel more secure in your role.
  • Surround yourself with humans who will help you enhance your abilities and support you.

9. Avoid comparing yourself with others

This one can be challenging, but remember that everyone is unique and has a range of abilities. People who are more productive, creative, or articulate than you will be found at work, but they will also have weaknesses. So focus on your growth and not others' strengths.

10. Keep learning

Take advantage of opportunities for learning and growth, such as training or professional development courses.
  • It will help boost your confidence and enhance your skills. Moreover, constant upgradation will not only keep you busy but will also help you stay updated.
  • Rather than shying away from challenges, embrace them as an opportunity to learn and grow.
  • Remember that mistakes and setbacks are a natural part of the learning process. The world around you is dynamic, and so should you!

11. Set realistic goals

  • Set more realistic and achievable goals for yourself, and celebrate your successes along the way. Avoid setting excessively high standards that are impossible to meet.
  • Use the SMART framework when setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals. SMART Framework will help you create clear, attainable, and realistic goals.
  • When setting goals, focus on the things you can control rather than those that are outside your control. It will help you avoid feelings of self-doubt and imposter syndrome.

12. Celebrate your successes

Take time and make some effort to celebrate your victories, no matter how small. Write them down or share them with someone else to help boost your confidence and remind yourself of your strengths.

13. Learn from Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes, even if it sounds cliche. How successful professionals react to making mistakes is what sets them unique. Do you dwell in your misery? Let it ruin your day entirely? Or do you see a mistake as an opportunity to improve and learn? Every time you make a mistake, stop for a moment to consider what went wrong. What went wrong, exactly? What should you learn to prevent this error from happening again? What can you alter going forward to increase your chances of success?
If you apply this attitude to making mistakes, eventually, you'll be the one assisting others who are learning from their mistakes since you have already learned.

14. Get help if needed

  • If imposter syndrome is causing significant distress or interfering with your daily life, consider seeking help from a mental health professional. A good mental health professional can provide support and guidance to help you manage your feelings and build confidence.
  • Connecting with others who are experiencing similar feelings can be a helpful way to combat imposter syndrome. Look for support groups online or in your community that focus on building confidence and overcoming self-doubt.

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