You may not know exactly what imposter syndrome is, but you’re probably familiar with its symptoms, which include feelings of unworthiness that plague you, despite the praise you receive from others.
That was the topic of this month’s Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce Women in Business Program, which took place yesterday. The guest speaker was Triyoko Boatwright, senior talent management and diversity, inclusion, and belonging specialist with Textron Specialized Vehicles, who discussed “Imposter Syndrome in the Workplace.”
Boatwright defines imposter syndrome as “chronic feelings of fraudulence, self-doubt, and inadequacy.”
She said the syndrome, which affects both male and female business professionals, is much more common than many realize. Boatwright cited a study conducted in California, in which 75 percent of female executives reported suffering from it.
“It’s not just low self-esteem; normally, imposter syndrome is seen in competitive environments,” she said.
The syndrome is often seen in college students, particularly those in professional programs, such as medical school. It can have dire consequences in the workplace, including burnout and missed opportunities.
Boatwright said some won’t apply for jobs or promotions because they feel unqualified for those higher positions.
“We talk ourselves out of being promoted,” she said.
In those who already struggle with mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, imposter syndrome can only make them feel worse. Many sufferers are afraid others will discover their perceived inadequacies, and they’ll lose their careers.
“Imposter syndrome often begins at home at a very young age,” she said.
Parents often have high expectations for their children, which include excelling academically and athletically.
Boatwright said there are various types of people who suffer from imposter syndrome, such as The Natural Genius, who learns new skills quickly but develops self-doubt when he/she doesn’t.
Combatting the syndrome in the workplace often involves being authentic, developing greater emotional intelligence, asking for help, and understanding that no one is perfect.