When the Imposter in the Office Is You

Sometimes seemingly successful people suffer from imposter syndrome, which is the belief that one's accomplishments are due to breaks or good luck, instead of natural talent and learned skill.

lonely traveler

(Photo Credit: JD Hancock/Flickr)

It is not an uncommon experience: you have a new job; you may even be steering your career path in a new direction. You no longer know what you are doing. Everybody else around you does a much better job than you. As you are leaving the office with your head held low, your new boss calls out, "Nice work today!" You look around, curious to see who is the intended recipinet of a well-deserved compliment. To your surprise, no one else is there but your boss.

Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome happens to many people. Some are students who can't believe they belong in the program to which they are accepted. Others are starting a business, or embarking on a new career path.

Imposter syndrome can really hurt you, especially during salary negotiations. If you can't believe you are capable of your job, you will have trouble asking for what you are worth. Instead, you will settle for what you think you are worth.

Perfectionists

Sometimes those with imposter syndrome come across as insecure and lacking self-confidence.

Other times, however, imposter syndrome shows up as perfectionism. The guy who works late every night making sure his work is perfect may suffer from a sense of being incapable. He is compensating for his perceived faults by becoming a workaholic.

"Imposters" Are Normal

The key here is that imposter syndrome, either short- or long- term, is a common experience. If you have it, rest assured that you are normal.

You can help yourself during times of feeling like an imposter by remembering that it is not unusual. Don't overwork yourself; finish projects, but don't stay late polishing each one. Take compliments from others seriously; don't tell yourself the person is just being nice. Nobody is perfect, and if you haven't been fired you are probably doing just fine at your job.

Tell Us What You Think

When have you experienced imposter syndrome? Tell us about it! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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