Do you sometimes feel like you are a fraud and fear that at any moment, everyone else will realise your secret? Well, you are not alone.
According to a new study 20 percent of individuals suffer from imposter syndrome and although they do not feel capable, they still perform well when working.
To combat these negative feelings, researchers have suggested ‘reaching out’ to friends and family outside the workplace – because they help you see the big picture.
The latest study was released by a team from Brigham Young University (BYU), who found imposter syndrome is actually very common in the workplace and among college students – 20 percent of students in the study suffered from this issue.
The team conducted interviews with students in elite academic programs with the hope of finding was for people who suffer from imposter syndrome cope.
Following their study, it was determined that the best way to tackle this issue was to seek support from individuals outside of their academic program.
When students ‘reached in’ to others within their major, their feelings of being a fraud had increased.
However, if the student ‘reached out’ to family and friends outside their major, or even professors, perceptions of impostorism were reduced.
‘Those outside the social group seem to be able to help students see the big picture and recalibrate their reference groups,’ said Jeff Bednar, a BYU management professor and co-author on the study.
‘After reaching outside their social group for support, students are able to understand themselves more holistically rather than being so focused on what they felt they lacked in just one area.’
Along with seeking social support, the study also uncovered negative ways students coped with impostorism.
In an attempt to take their mind off schoolwork, some students looked to video games, but spent more time playing than they would actually studying.
Other students tried to hide how they really felt around their classmates, pretending they were confident and excited about their performance when deep down they questioned if they actually belonged.
A second study asked 213 students to describe how they felt after seeking support either within their peer group or outside of it.
Those who reached out to individuals outside the major proved to be more effective than reaching in to individuals within the major.
What surprised the experts was that they found the perceptions of impostorism lack a significant relationship with performance.
This has revealed that even though individuals may not believe in themselves, they are still capable of doing their jobs well.
Researchers also explain that social-related factors impact impostorism more than an individual’s actual ability or competence.
‘The root of impostorism is thinking that people don’t see you as you really are,’ said Bryan Stewart, an accounting professor at BYU and co-author on the study.
‘We think people like us for something that isn’t real and that they won’t like us if they find out who we really are.’
Although the study was conducted with university students, researchers believe that their finds can be applied to the workplace.
‘It’s important to create cultures where people talk about failure and mistakes,’ Bednar said.
‘When we create those cultures, someone who is feeling strong feelings of impostorism will be more likely to get the help they need within the organization.’