You may have heard of imposter syndrome before, you may have experienced it yourself, or you may be suffering from it without knowing what it is.
Imposter syndrome is about believing that you are not qualified for the role you’re performing, and fear being exposed as a “fraud”. Despite there being plenty of evidence that you are good at your job, you’ll convince yourself that you do not deserve your achievements and they are down to luck or deceiving others. Unsurprisingly, this can lead you to hit a wall in your career.
Clare Josa, an expert in imposter syndrome, has conducted some research that demonstrates how prevalent imposter syndrome is even in those who do not believe they have it. Having surveyed people in senior positions who said they never get imposter syndrome, every person showed signs of it in their actions and self-talk. Of those surveyed who didn’t know what imposter syndrome was, 75% showed clear signs of it.
The good news is, if you find yourself suffering from imposter syndrome, you can use emotional intelligence to override your cognitive distortions. Emotionally intelligent people employ methods like the ones below to rationalise and manage their thoughts.
Stop and think
If you find yourself feeling insecure or inadequate, it’s important to take a moment to think about and assess the situation. Everything that we think and feel is not necessarily the object of truth, it’s a version of how your brain is initially reacting to something.
Before you react and jump to conclusions based on your initial thoughts and feelings, you should think calmly and rationally about the situation.
Ask for help
It can be difficult to feel confident about yourself and your abilities when you’re in the grip of imposter syndrome. If you’re a high achiever who often helps and advises others, it can also be especially difficult to reach out and get a confidence boost elsewhere.
Emotionally intelligent people are prepared to be vulnerable in order to get the help they need. Do you have a mentor, trusted colleague or friend who can help you process what you are feeling, rationalise and build your confidence? A problem shared is a problem halved.
Build a case against your negative thoughts
While your emotional reactions may be telling you that you’re not good enough, there’s likely to be plenty of evidence that proves otherwise. Take a look at what you have achieved, training you have completed and your track record of success to determine whether what you are feeling is really the case.
Creating your own personal development plan (PDP) can help you to track your progress and achievements. Sometimes a new challenge can spur imposter syndrome, so taking a look back at what you’ve done so far should believe that you can do it.
Give yourself a break
Nobody’s perfect and everyone has feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy from time to time. Don’t beat yourself up because at the end of the day, you’re human and there are millions of people who feel the way you do. There will be things that scare you and emotionally intelligent people recognise this and continue to give it a go. You’re going to get further in your career if you push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Stop chasing perfection
When it comes to your career, there’s always more to learn. There will be new technology, trends and skills that will help you to improve and grow, but no one can know everything. We can’t be good at everything and emotionally intelligent people recognise this, play to their strengths and build on their weaknesses. Those that believe they are a leader who needs to know it all, are much more prone to imposter syndrome.
Stay curious and continue to develop yourself and you will enhance your performance.
Bringing it all together
Emotional intelligence is a valuable skill to develop and it’s highly sought after by many companies. When you feel like you are suffering from imposter syndrome, remember that it’s a common malady and use your emotional intelligence to help you overcome it.