Imposter Syndrome is the persistent feeling of self-doubt or inadequacy despite accomplishments, intelligence, and external evidence of competence. Many people experience this feeling of being a “fraud” in various aspects of their lives. In a work setting, imposter syndrome can be particularly harmful, as it can hold individuals back from taking risks, pursuing promotions or pay raises, and contributing their unique perspectives to their team. In this article, we will explore five different types of imposter syndrome that individuals may experience in the workplace and provide tips for overcoming them.
Type 1: The Expert
Individuals who experience the “Expert” type of imposter syndrome often feel that they are not knowledgeable enough in their field or job. They may constantly seek out additional training, certifications, or knowledge to feel more competent. They may also shy away from applying for jobs or promotions because they do not feel qualified enough.
If you are experiencing this type of imposter syndrome, start practicing just-in-time learning, which involves acquiring knowledge or skills when they are needed rather than hoarding information for false comfort. Becoming a mentor to colleagues or training junior colleagues can also help individuals to share their expertise with others and realize their own value.
Type 2: The Super Woman/Man
Individuals who identify with the “Super Woman/Man” type of imposter syndrome often push themselves to overwork and overachieve. They may be workaholics and addicted to the validation that comes from working rather than the work itself. They may feel restless or find it hard to switch off when they are not at work.
If you are experiencing this type of imposter syndrome, it is important to gain clarity and notice any working-harder behaviors. Ask yourself questions such as “What is my motive behind staying late?” or “Am I seeking outside validation?” Delegating tasks can also be helpful, as it allows individuals to share the workload and help others upskill.
Type 3: The Perfectionist
Individuals who experience the “Perfectionist” type of imposter syndrome often have very high standards for themselves and others. They may find it difficult to accept making mistakes and feel like frauds when they do. They may engage in over-planning, over-preparing, and over-thinking to avoid making mistakes.
If you are experiencing this type of imposter syndrome, focus on progress rather than perfection. Celebrate accomplishments and try to avoid being overly critical of yourself. Stop criticizing yourself and start complimenting yourself instead. Think about positive feedback and compliments you have received from others, and start writing them down to look through on days when you are feeling particularly hard on yourself.
Type 4: The Soloist
Individuals who identify with the “Soloist” type of imposter syndrome may be afraid to ask for help, believing that asking for assistance means they are a fraud. They may find it hard to trust that others are as competent as they are or feel threatened if they share the win with others. Even though they know there are other experts in certain areas, they try to do their own research to avoid appearing incompetent.
If you are experiencing this type of imposter syndrome, try to acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses. Recognize that it is okay to ask for help and that others may have unique perspectives that can contribute to the team's success. Accepting help or guidance does not make you any less competent.
Type 5: The Natural Genius
Individuals who identify with the “Natural Genius” type of imposter syndrome often believe that they should be able to excel at everything naturally. They may find it hard to accept that they may need to work hard or practice in order to succeed in certain areas. When they encounter a challenge, they may give up easily, believing it's not worth the effort.
If you fall into the natural genius category, you might believe that success should come easily and quickly to you. You might be used to getting high grades or excelling in areas without putting in too much effort. You might think that if you have to work hard at something, it means you’re not smart or talented enough. When you do face a challenge, you might feel like giving up, as if it’s not worth the effort.
How To Deal With It?
Recognize that you are not alone and that everyone struggles with something at some point. Start setting goals for yourself that are challenging but achievable, and focus on the process of learning rather than just the outcome. This will help you to develop a growth mindset and see challenges as opportunities for growth, rather than threats to your intelligence or talent.
Remind yourself that it’s okay to make mistakes and to struggle with something. This is part of the learning process, and it’s how you grow and improve. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or seek out resources to support your learning.
Help Through Mentorship
If you relate to any of these categories, know that you are not alone. Impostor syndrome affects people from all walks of life and can have a significant impact on their mental health and well-being. If you are struggling with impostor syndrome in your work environment, it’s important to seek support and guidance from others.
One way to do this is through mentorship. A mentor can provide guidance, support, and advice as you navigate your career and work through impostor syndrome. They can help you to identify your strengths and areas for growth, set achievable goals, and develop a plan for overcoming self-doubt and building confidence.
If you are interested in finding a mentor, reach out to someone in your field or company who you admire and respect. You can also consider joining a mentorship program or networking group to connect with others who can offer support and guidance.
In conclusion, impostor syndrome is a common experience that can have a significant impact on our mental health and well-being. By recognizing the five types of impostor syndrome and taking steps to overcome self-doubt, we can build confidence and achieve our goals. Seeking support and guidance through mentorship can also be a valuable resource as we navigate our careers and work through impostor syndrome. Remember, you are not alone and it’s okay to ask for help.