How to Make Your Impostor Syndrome Work for You

How to Make Your Impostor Syndrome Work for You

Up to 82 per cent of people have felt like they’re not good enough and will be “found out” at work, according to the National Library Medicine. Most of us know too well how impostor syndrome can negatively impact the way we navigate our careers, and have looked for ways to cope with or overcome it. But what if it can be made beneficial? If harnessed properly, imposter syndrome can make us more likable and productive.

How to harness your impostor syndrome to be more likable

Science has shown that asking good follow-up questions makes people like you, and according to peer reviewed study from the Academy of Management, people experiencing impostor syndrome tend to instinctively shift the attention from themselves to other people. In other words, they get other people to talk about themselves. When you think of it that way, going from “I don’t belong here” to “my coworkers love me” can come down to learning how to ask good questions.

Consider the two-question protocol. After asking a basic question like “What do you do for work,” ask two follow up questions to give your conversation partner a chance to more deeply talk about themselves. They’ll likely go into their personal lives, experiences, what they love or hate, or some other interesting anecdote. Listen for whatever sounds most interesting to inform the rest of your conversation.

How to harness your impostor syndrome at work

The same research from the Academy of Management says that impostor syndrome can also make us harder workers:

Employees who more frequently have such thoughts are evaluated as more interpersonally effective because they adopt a more other-focused orientation (that positively affects) competence-related outcomes like performance.

Most people aren’t deceiving their coworkers by faking their experience or credentials, and are capable and competent professionals. But they work harder nonetheless to prove to themselves and their peers that they belong. You can use that motivation to make yourself a better professional at your job without necessarily feeling like a fraud, though. Here are some ways to get the benefits of impostor syndrome without the negative sides:

  • Be aware of your triggers: If you know public speaking makes heightens your feelings of impostor syndrome, thoughtfully consider when to pass on those tasks. That doesn’t meant that you should ignore challenging projects altogether — you should still aim to build on your weaknesses — but be aware of your confidence levels and grow incrementally.
  • Develop your mental flexibility: Realising that you’re not a know-it-all — and you don’t need to be — allows you to approach situations in a more curious and open-minded way. It can help uncover your strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to to find solutions to problems you would otherwise have trouble with.
  • Allow yourself to make mistakes: You will have situations when you want to speak up but the fear of being wrong and “found out” might keep you from sharing them. Giving yourself permission to make mistakes can not only give you a chance to share potential valuable ideas, but if you’re wrong, it can also start to dwindle the mental illusion of being an impostor and slowly set you free from those shackles. It’s a win-win.
  • Embrace the art of “confident humility”: You may not feel like you’re not “good enough,” but you can become a better team player by embracing the art of “confident humility,” according to an MIT study. This practice means being assertive about what you know and willing to acknowledge what you don’t. You’ll ask the right questions and see blind spots in your skills, ideas, or knowledge.

Impostor syndrome is a mindset that can be shifted to ultimately make you more likable, more open-minded, more accepting of constructive criticism, more likely to ask better questions, and a better listener. If you manage to harness it, it’s not all bad.

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.

At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.


Leave a Reply