By Maryam Minhas – Sales and Partner Manager (Business) and Harriet Lynas – Digital Solutions Specialist (Business)
Imposter syndrome refers to unfounded feelings of self-doubt and a belief that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be and it is likely to affect everyone at some point in their career.
To help us understand the concept better, our Women’s Network ran a fantastic session with Veronica Soorma, a senior marketing analyst from Moonpig, who gave us tips on how we can support others who are experiencing these feelings, be it as a line manager, colleague, friend or even a partner.
It was a great session with some useful tips, and we wanted to summarise what we personally took away from it.
Why can work trigger imposter syndrome?
Sometimes people get it during university or when learning something new, but work triggers it for a lot of people as there’s pressure to do well. Studies show that work is often important to people, it is often part of their identity; their purpose so therefore there is a lot of value placed on it.
Should we value our work so highly?
It is not necessarily a dreadful thing to value work highly, it is about managing the relationship you have so you do not let it affect your feelings negatively. A tip given was that it would be better to re-evaluate what we mean by success.
What does success mean?
Everyone measures success differently and to help deal with imposter syndrome we discussed it is important to recognise what success looks like for you. Could be lots of small wins, small positive changes that are consistent.
The word failure, what does it even mean?
It was first used as a financial term to describe bankruptcy, not really to describe humans. It signifies a financial end, but humans do not end, they can ‘fail’ and bounce back, and they can learn from failure.
In fact, we need failure to learn from our mistakes and create something new, to try something in a different way. If we only succeeded, humans would never do anything different, there would be no creativity.
So, if we need failure, how do you help someone who feels imposter syndrome?
1. Communication is critical – key questions to ask are, how do they feel, how do they want to feel?
2. Challenge their reality by asking further questions – ‘what made you think you did a bad job?’ You will get more useful feedback from them because they must be specific, and you will be able to address their concerns about themselves directly. Build a strong open relationship with them, give them the time they deserve to talk about how they are feeling.
3. Get feedback from the person, how easily can they talk to you? What is going on for them, how do they like to be communicated with?
4. Praising effort – that’s where company culture becomes important.
It was an enjoyable session with lots of opportunities to ask questions and to reflect. It really got us thinking about the topic and what we could do to help support someone who is going through this.
Thanks to our Women’s Network for organising and helping us around the education of Imposter Syndrome.