Impostor Syndrome: What Is It, And How To Deal With It?

One of the most common problems in human resource management in companies is the impostor syndrome. This is so common that it is estimated that at least 7 out of 10 employees suffer from it at least once during their work performance.

This situation can cause problems within the work environment, such as excessive competitiveness, rivalry between colleagues, and work stress among employees, leading to other issues related to the integration of workers or health disorders.

This article will tell you all the details of this mental health disorder in workers and why it is so necessary to combat it.

What is impostor syndrome?

Impostor syndrome is one of the most common psychological phenomena in the workplace. This is a common disorder among employees, which causes them not to feel up to the work circumstances, even though they have achieved success in their job performance.

It is a temporary mental illness, although it can manifest at various levels. Usually, this manifests itself after some drastic change in professional or personal life and can last over time, worsening the situation of employees and leading to other problems, such as depression, work stress, and more.

History of impostor syndrome

This disorder was discovered and coined by the specialists in clinical psychology Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes at the end of the 70s. In 1978, both published an article that talked about the subject, which was called: «The imposter phenomenon in high achieving women: Dynamics and therapeutic intervention.»

In their publication, they explained their research in detail, in which they analyzed the behavior of women who achieved outstanding achievements in their jobs. Their investigation showed that most of these did not have self-confidence. They considered that their success was nothing more than a fraud and that the lie would soon be discovered, generating a complex work situation for them.

  • Perfectionists: Success is not satisfying for these people because they think they could have done better if they were successful.
  • Individualists: These individuals reject help offered by others, and they consider that asking for help is synonymous with weakness and that they do not prove their worth.
  • Experts: They consider that they were not honest when carrying out their tasks and fear being discovered once they achieve success.
  • Natural geniuses: They judge themselves, being able to suffer from anxiety, stress, and overwhelm when activities do not go as expected.
  • Superhumans: Those pressured to work hard and measure up can cause damage to their mental health and social relationships.

Causes of impostor syndrome

According to research carried out by experts, the syndrome of feeling cheated at work can be due to several factors, which we explain below:

Gender stereotypes

This disorder is more common in women than in men in many cases. This is due to their pressure to try to reconcile professional life with personal life as wives and mothers.

That the individual is too self-demanding

People who are perfectionists and have excessively high expectations of themselves and their performance but never reach their own goals tend to suffer from this disorder frequently. There may even be anxiety, mental blocks, and stress that affect their work development.

Distorted perception of success, failure, and competition

Usually, these people work too hard to achieve their goals, and the rewards they receive for doing so are not worth the effort. This also causes the disorder.

Dysfunctional family dynamics during childhood

A prevalent cause of the disorder is parental treatment during childhood. When children are placed in high demand to achieve in sports or academics, their achievements are unknown. In contrast, the achievements of a sibling or cousin are extolled, and this disorder can develop in the future.

In short, the impostor syndrome is an unconscious fear of not living up to the commitments made, even when it stands out in this area. This can create a complex work situation that will deteriorate team members’ productivity and interpersonal relationships. Therefore, it is essential to take corrective measures.

This can be determined through a test, where a specialist can determine whether or not the employee suffers from the disorder. However, it is straightforward to detect it since individuals suffer from these symptoms:

They do not accept compliments.

  • They insist obsessively and excessively on fulfilling their task.
  • They constantly compare themselves with other peers.
  • This type of disorder is treated with team dynamics and the support of a mental health professional, who helps improve the employees’ situation until it normalizes.

Also Read: Musculoskeletal Disorders: What Are The Causes?

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