How do you cheat on imposter syndrome at work and show up with confidence?

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The tech world is moving forward and it can be easy to feel like your skills aren’t improving fast enough. The feeling of impostor syndrome is common. Not burdening these thoughts and controlling them takes practice.

Here we look at what imposter syndrome is and how to manage it. We spoke to psychologist Dr. Pauline Yeghnazar Peck to give you advice on how to handle this difficult feeling.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is self-doubt that doesn’t match your achievements. This phenomenon will make you feel like you don’t deserve your position, or someone will find out that you’re not really qualified for your job.

Professionals can feel imposter syndrome when: apply for new jobswhen opportunities are presented, or when it is time to negotiate salary† Imposter syndrome can prevent talented professionals from getting ahead if they miss opportunities because of it.

You can also develop impostor syndrome if there is poor communication, unclear expectations, or fierce competition in your workplace.

ZDNet: Why do high performers still feel imposter syndrome?

Pauline Yeghnazar Peck, a woman with blond curly hair, poses for a photo on a chair.

Pauline Yeghnazar Peck, Ph.D.

dr. Pauline Yeghnazar Peck: Imposter syndrome is an internal experience that is separate from what is happening externally. Anyone – even high performers who have achieved a lot – can experience it.

High performers often assume that everyone is like them, which is why they may reject their unique skills and traits.

In addition, since the imposter syndrome is an internal experience, there is no threshold that once reached will alleviate these feelings. High performers often believe that if they just get to “X” – whatever that next level is – the feelings they have will disappear.

We know from research that those feelings don’t go away after reaching a new goal, because we acclimate and quickly pick a new goal as the next threshold, continuing the cycle.

Am I experiencing imposter syndrome at work?

Recognizing imposter syndrome is the first step towards a cure. Feeling that you are not good enough for your job can lead to overwhelming stress, a feeling of burnoutand even resignation from your position.

If you suffer from imposter syndrome at work, you may:

  • Downplaying your achievements
  • Not finishing projects
  • Doubt your decisions
  • Avoid feedback
  • Beat yourself for small mistakes
  • Feel like a scammer
  • Not being able to accept praise
  • Fully committed to the point of exhaustion

ZDNet: How can an employee share with his manager that he suffers from impostor syndrome?

dr. Pauline Yeghnazar Peck: That really depends on the culture of your workplace. There is no perfect way to talk to a manager about imposter syndrome. If you trust them and have been emotionally open with them in the past, I would encourage you to open up.

Even if you don’t necessarily talk to your manager about the ‘impostor syndrome’, it can also be helpful to ask for immediate feedback on your work so that you have some concrete, objective measures to test the reality when you feel like a cheater .

Often the positive feedback alone will not improve the feelings, but it can help you find some ground if you feel repelled by your thoughts and feelings.

In addition, if you are going to talk to your manager, think about some useful items you may need from them or why you are sharing this information with them so that it still feels relevant to the professional context.

If you do not have a transparent and vulnerable relationship with your manager, I also recommend that you seek the support of colleagues. Ultimately, you want to go to the well that has water for you.

Tori Rubloff/ZDNet

How to deal with imposter syndrome in your career

The following tips can provide relief from impostor syndrome feelings. Some tips may be more effective than others, depending on the individual and the situation.

Remember: thoughts are not facts.

If you have a song stuck in your head, don’t blame yourself. The best way to “untie” a song is to listen to it. When the song is over, continue.

This principle applies to repetitive negative thoughts: don’t blame yourself, let the thoughts have their moment and move on without them.

Introspective thinking and self-awareness are signs of emotional intelligence† While anxious and negative thoughts are normal, they are not always accurate for the situation. Uncertainty and the unknown may convince our nervous system that there is danger and threats, but that doesn’t mean it’s true.

Reframe your thoughts.

Start checking your internal narrator for negative thoughts and trying to reframe them. When your internal narrator says you’ve failed, try to remind yourself that this moment is a learning moment.

Reframing your thoughts doesn’t mean forcing yourself into positivity. It is a method of challenging thoughts and seeking a more useful perspective.

dr. Pauline Yeghnazar Peck: Get into the habit of responding to your deceptive feelings and thoughts as you would with a close friend. If they came up to you and said, “I don’t feel like I’m smart enough and I can’t make this happen,” you wouldn’t respond with, “Yeah, you’re right. You need to stop.”

You would probably encourage them by reminding them of their strengths and times in which they have endured, letting them know you believe in them, and reassuring them by assuring them that many people feel this way from time to time.

Learning to talk to yourself in a self-compassionate way (and often much more accurately, rather than being completely hijacked by emotional thinking) can be a great long-term exercise in keeping impostor syndrome at the right size.

List your skills, strengths and achievements.

It can be helpful to look at your resume if you suffer from impostor syndrome. Don’t be afraid to list your achievements and remind yourself that you are qualified for your position.

Your accomplishments could include things like organizing the office book club or recommending a business software switch. These achievements make you a valuable worker and are worth celebrating.

dr. Pauline Yeghnazar Peck: I suggest that people keep track of their achievements, strengths and efforts, literally or figuratively. These things can be so easy to forget when we feel like an impostor.

By enjoying those positive experiences, we can hold onto the intense and difficult emotions more gently.

Share how you feel with a loved one.

Don’t let negative thoughts float around in your head. Find someone outside of work you can talk to about imposter syndrome. By speaking thoughts out loud, you realize that they are not right and you can move on.

Find someone who has dealt with imposter syndrome to help you see that you are not alone in your feelings.

Set reasonable expectations for yourself at work.

You can do everything, but you can’t do everything. Setting unattainable standards leads to disappointment and even self-loathing.

Choose realistic personal goals. Don’t set yourself up to feel like an impostor.

Make a schedule for yourself and spend specific time on the projects you want to complete. Be sure to add extra time for pauses and padding. Does your completed schedule look like something you can do while maintaining your sanity?

Embrace a growth mindset.

Embracing a growth mindset will reframe the way you view your shortcomings. Remind yourself that you are still learning and that it is okay to make mistakes. Focusing on shifting your self-talk can make a huge difference in how you view your current success.

Try these simple swaps:

Instead of…

Think…

“I can not do it.”

“I’ll figure this out.”

“I have made a mistake.”

“I have learned something.”

“I don’t know.”

“I do not know yet.”


At the end of each workday, write down at least one success.

If you are at the beginning of your career or if your past successes do not inspire you, try to focus on smaller, daily victories. At the end of each workday, write down at least one success.

Keep your list somewhere you can reach it if you need a boost. Put everything on your list that you are proud of.

If you led a successful meeting, write down what worked and what tips for public speaking for you in the future. Don’t forget to add any kind Slack messages you’ve received or positive comments about a performance review.

Focus on what you can give others.

If you see someone struggling at work, try to help them. It may feel counterintuitive to help others when you’re overwhelmed, but this method can remind you that other people struggle too.

Helping someone else when they need it will likely make you feel more valuable to the team. These gestures can create a culture of helpfulness in the office that can return to you.

Talk to a therapist.

These methods of overcoming impostor syndrome can be helpful, but sometimes you need the advice of a licensed professional.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can help explore negative emotions and create personalized methods of managing them.

Your GP may be able to put you in touch with a therapist. If that’s not possible, try an online service like Betterhelp or Talkspace. These sites offer fast availability of appointments.

More about Dr. Pauline Yeghnazar Peck, MA, MMFT, Ph.D.

Pauline Yeghnazar Peck, MA, MMFT, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist in California and New York with a private practice in Santa Barbara, California. She works with Millennials and Gen Z individuals and couples to create the love, work and life they want. She specializes in fear, life transitions, trauma and multicultural issues.

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