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The imposter syndrome is the feeling that you are unworthy of your accomplishments at work and that you will be exposed as a fake. People who experience imposter syndrome perceive it as harmful to their success.
But the behaviours that the 'imposters' show to compensate for their self-doubt can make them better at their jobs and motivate them to outperform their non-imposter peers in interpersonal skills.
Over 70% of people are affected by imposter thoughts at some point in their careers.
'Imposters' have perfectionistic tendencies. They often feel overwhelmed and disappointed if they are unable to fulfil their perfectionist goals. A cycle starts where imposters can't accept positive feedback on their work. A gap develops in how individuals perceive their own competence compared to how competent they really are.
In a study, workers experiencing imposter thoughts were rated more interpersonally effective and better collaborators. There's no significant difference in competence between those who have imposter thoughts and those who are not.
Self-doubt leads 'imposters' to put extra effort into their interpersonal connections and may lead to outperforming their non-imposter colleagues.
Imposter syndrome is widely assumed as debilitating, but imposter thoughts can be a source of fuel. It can motivate us to work harder to prove ourselves and work smarter to fill the gaps in our knowledge and skills.
The best way to harness this new potential is to move past the negative emotion and lean further into the imposter feelings. Focusing on the perceived competence gap between you and your peers and putting your energy towards closing it might give you the edge.
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