Seed World

Imposter Syndrome is the Fraud, Not You

Have you ever entered a new role, taken on new responsibilities or looked at your professional career and doubted yourself? If you’ve sat wondering if you’re a fraud, questioning if you deserve accolades or showcased other feelings of self-deprecation, you’re displaying sure signs of imposter syndrome.

These feelings of self-doubt are common, but don’t need to be a hinderance to your career. There are simple tips to help yourself, your peers and your employees overcome imposter syndrome and perform to their highest potential.

“It’s this kind of doubt, just ever-present doubt about whether you truly belong where you are, if you’ve achieved what you think you’ve achieved,” says Lynn Sosnoskie, assistant professor at Cornell and a weed scientist. “It’s focusing on the negative thoughts in your mind.”

Disable Your Inner Critic

It’s easy to focus on limiting factors, there’s not enough time, resources, information, skillset, etc. without realizing the factors that do make you qualified. It’s a practice of negative self-talk to try to avoid.

“Recognizing those feeling and powering through,” says Portia Stewart, owner of Mindful Creatives, a business consulting company. “If we can say I can do this, and even though your inner critic is on one shoulder, listen to your inner counselor on the other who is saying you are good enough and you can be successful.”

You can be successful but it’s important to remember failure will still happen, the important issue is how you react.

“Stop defining it as a failure and define it as a learning experience,” Stewart continues. “Look at all of the companies doing the biggest and greatest things, they have 50 failures for everything that is even marginally successful. Think of it as experimentation and learning.”

For Indiana farmer, author, podcaster and blogger Jenn Campbell, imposter syndrome is a reality in her life, but she tries to help her children and employees understand a more positive way to look at experiences.

“I’ve tried to teach my kids that if you don’t experience the ‘bad’ or those hard times in your life, you might not appreciate the good as much,” she explains. “It’s like social media, no one announces their failures, only the good things. They aren’t going to say it took 15 tries to get one idea to work, so you can’t compare your experiences to someone else’s.”

Encourage Employees

Simply acknowledging employees and giving them praise for their work are a couple steps employers can take to encourage employees. In addition, supporting employees through training and providing good communication can bolster their confidence.

“When I’m working with students, I like to focus on them as human beings and not just cogs in some sort of wheel to achieve something,” Sosnoskie says. “I want them to know they are unique and important, and they shouldn’t focus on what they weren’t successful at.”

Thinking about how the other person is feeling, which is natural in your personal life, is invaluable in the workplace, too. Support can help your employees overcome imposter syndrome and therefore make them more productive.

“One of the things I value most when on a team is volunteering to be the person who says I am happy to talk to you anytime you have concerns,” Stewart says. “Letting people share their ideas and being open to hearing them and giving them your best advice and being supportive and encouraging.”

When sharing criticism with employees, Stewart shares it’s important to find a balance during these tough conversations. Consider finding a positive, ask questions to understand if there was confusion and work together to figure out what can be done in the future to avoid issues.

“I also think about how people want to be spoken to,” Campbell advises. “For example, the way I want to be spoken to is not the same as my husband and my kids communicate differently, too.”

Communication in a positive way that encourages empathy goes a long way to encourage employees.

Learn more about how you can be a supportive manager:

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