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What is the Impostor Syndrome at the Workplace?

Updated: Jan 31

The author Valerie Sawade of the article:" What is the Impostor Syndrome at the Workplace?"

Publication date: 03.10.2023

In modern workplaces, even accomplished individuals often feel persistently inadequate. This phenomenon, known as Impostor Syndrome, can cast a shadow over professional success and hinder personal growth. In this article, we will delve into the depths of Impostor Syndrome from a psychological perspective. Moreover, we will uncover its causes, effects, and practical strategies to overcome it and thrive in your career.

Impostor Syndrome cause internal struggle

Definition of Impostor Syndrome

Impostor Syndrome is a psychological phenomenon that is characterized by persistent self-doubt. In particular, it involves the belief that one's achievements result from luck or external factors rather than genuine ability.

Even accomplished professionals often feel like frauds, fearing that they will be exposed as incompetent despite evidence to the contrary. This internal struggle can erode confidence, hinder career advancement, and contribute to chronic stress.

Causes and Contributing Factors

1. Perfectionism

A common trait among individuals who experience Impostor Syndrome is the pursuit of perfection. Therefore, the fear of not meeting impossibly high standards can lead to a constant feeling of falling short.

2. Comparisons

Constantly comparing oneself to others

Constantly comparing oneself to others' achievements can magnify feelings of inadequacy. So, the success of colleagues can fuel the belief that one's own accomplishments are insufficient.

3. Attribution Error

Impostor Syndrome sufferers tend to attribute their successes to external factors such as luck or timing. Also, they are downplaying their own skills and efforts.

4. Stereotype Threat

Individuals from underrepresented groups may experience Impostor Syndrome more intensely. Actually, it can occur through the fear of confirming negative stereotypes associated with their identity.

Effects on Career and Well-being

The psychological burden of Impostor Syndrome can have several detrimental effects on both one's career and overall well-being:

1. Limited Career Progression

Individuals afflicted by Impostor Syndrome may avoid taking on new challenges or opportunities due to fear of failure. This way, they limit their career growth.

2. Increased Stress

The chronic stress of feeling like a fraud can lead to burnout, anxiety, and even physical health issues.

3. Undermined Confidence

The persistent belief in one's inadequacy can weaken self-confidence. As a result, it leads to difficulties in asserting oneself and expressing opinions.

Effects on Career caused by Imposter Syndrome

Overcoming Impostor Syndrome: Practical Strategies

1. Acknowledge and Normalize

Recognize that Impostor Syndrome is a common experience and that many successful people have faced it. So, normalizing these feelings can help alleviate their power.

2. Celebrate Achievements

Instead of attributing success solely to luck, acknowledge your own skills and efforts. Maintain a log of your achievements as a way to jog your memory about your abilities.

3. Reframe Negative Thoughts

Challenge negative self-talk by questioning its validity. Replace self-critical thoughts with more balanced and rational perspectives.

4. Seek Support

Discuss your emotions with dependable coworkers, mentors, or close friends. They can offer objective insights and remind you of your strengths.

5. Set Realistic Goals

Divide substantial tasks into more bite-sized, achievable components. Focus on the process and progress rather than aiming for perfection.

6. Practice Self-Compassion

Extend to yourself the same level of kindness and compassion you'd extend to a friend. Embrace the idea that errors are integral to personal development.

Impostor Syndrome at the workplace

Impostor Syndrome may be a persistent companion in the journey of professional development, but it doesn't have to define your career trajectory. Actually, by grasping its psychology and using practical strategies, you will work with more confidence, authenticity, and resilience. Keep in mind that you are not the only one going through this situation. Every step you take toward overcoming Impostor Syndrome is a step closer to realizing your true potential.


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