By Leigh-Ann Athanasius

Doubt in the workplace, and self-doubt specifically, is a familiar feeling to most of us.

Before we dive into it, listen to this snippet of a conversation between PPA and a guest about their own experience of doubt in the workplace.

Imposter Syndrome

The elephant in the room when discussing doubt is often imposter syndrome. This is a term that many Millennials and Gen Z understand and are familiar with, but this is also doubted by those who belong to previous generations. In a nutshell, imposter syndrome is the feeling that you aren’t as capable as those around you believe you to be.

Initially, imposter syndrome (and self-doubt in the workplace in general) was associated with high-achieving women and that’s why, even as mentioned in the clip, a lot of people assumed that men don’t go through the same feelings. However, doubt in the workplace is not a gender specific occurrence. Almost everyone has experienced doubt about their work/performance and/or their work environment at some point in their career. 

People also tend to experience this kind of doubt regardless of the level of success that they have achieved. In fact, as cruel as it may be, many people feel it more the more successful they become.

How do we feel imposter syndrome at work

Imposter syndrome manifests itself in different ways, but here are two simple examples:

  1. There are pressures that come with doing things well. Once you have one project go exceptionally well, you may start thinking that every subsequent project needs to meet the same level or surpass the success of the previous endeavour. Like the story of Icarus flying to close to the sun, your success may ultimately lead to your downfall.
  2. Another form of imposter syndrome that can come up in the workplace is the feeling that everyone else is more qualified than you are. When you join the workforce, you encounter all sorts of people. Some will have more qualifications, others more experience and some may have gone to ‘fancier’ schools than you did; and this can be intimidating. How can you compare with those who are seemingly ‘better’ than you.

Millennials especially, seem to communicate their self doubt and discuss imposter syndrome more than previous generations. But this begs the question, did millennials just give it a name and speak more freely about it compared to the previous generations? Was this something that was always happening or is it a new ‘fad’? Realistically, previous generations must have experienced doubt but probably were not as open about it. It was the norm to just power through these feelings and get the job done.

You can take this imposter phenomenon/syndrome scale test to give you an idea of the level of imposter characteristics that you experience (if any). This is not to be taken as any kind of diagnostic information, but can be a tool you use to explore whether your feeling imposter syndrome in your workplace.

So how can you keep your doubt in check

In a previous post we talked about expectations and how when these are not met, it can lead to you doubting yourself. As was said in the clip and in that post, you were hired for a reason. You are in that job because you have what it takes to do that job and excel. All it takes is a little confidence and trying to see in yourself what it was that initially got you the job.

Create a strong support network for yourself. Have a few people that you trust that you can reach out to whenever you start to doubt yourself and your capabilities. It is important to be mindful of the people that you share this with. However, having that support system that can support you when the self-doubt is overwhelming can really bring you back to your centre. 

Understand that no one has it all figured out. Yes, even that person on your Instagram feed that is posting all the cool things, they are also more than likely having days where they doubt themselves. We’re all faking it till we make it in one way or another. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This field is required.

This field is required.