77% of the UK suffers from imposter syndrome: how to work out whether you do, too

  • Marie Claire is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
  • Learn how to identify - and counter - the condition

    You’ll likely have heard the phrase imposter syndrome – it’s bandied around more than Line of Duty memes at the moment, but do you know what it really means, or how to do an imposter syndrome test to figure out if you’re suffering from it?

    New stats have revealed that 77% of people in the UK suffer from imposter syndrome. And the changing work landscape doesn’t help – working from home, for many, has intensified feelings of self doubt. This, paired with, how isolating WFH can be, can lead to serious mental health conditions.

    So, what is imposter syndrome? 

    Imposter syndrome is defined as the persistent inability to believe that your successes are down to your own abilities. In other words, failing to feel like you’ve ‘earned’ your success or constantly feeling like a fraud in the workplace.

    Sound like you? You’re not alone. Other surveys have found a whopping 90% of women in the UK suffer from this, yet only 25% are actually aware of it. In a remote and distributed work environment, feelings of imposter syndrome are even more challenging to tackle.

    Many have begun to return to offices now, but as many as 74% of companies are planning on permanently shifting to remote and distributed work in the future. If this is true, organisations need to start doing their bit to ensure employees – and female employees, in particular – aren’t letting imposter syndrome undermine their day-to-days.

    Your imposter syndrome test

    So, you want to know if you’re suffering from imposter syndrome? You can start by asking yourself the following.

    • Have you ever felt like you don’t belong in your workplace?
    • Do you ever feel inferior in your line of work?
    • Have you ever felt like your colleagues have done more to deserve their positions than you?
    • Have you ever second guessed yourself at work, on the basis that you don’t know enough?

    Or, there are plenty of sites that offer quizzes and questionnaires that will calculate the result for you. Head to PsychTests, Psycom, Grammarly or IDR Labs for more.

    5 tips to avoid imposter syndrome altogether

    As a champion of diversity and female empowerment in the workplace, Asana‘s Terri Burden reveals how remote work can act as a trigger for impostor syndrome, and shares five action points to take on overcoming this feeling.

    1. Get clear on expectations

    It’s more important than ever to perfect communications between distanced team members. For individuals suffering from imposter syndrome this is particularly challenging, as you’re more likely to avoid asking for help.

    To avoid this, you need to get clear on what you need to achieve. But this responsibility not only lies with you, but with your company. According to an Asana survey, only 16% of employees say their company is ‘very effective’ at setting and communicating company-wide goals.

    This is an issue, as it causes confusion about priorities, a lack of motivation, and even a lack of alignment within teams. From daily to annual targets to those outlined for yourself, your team and your organisation – setting goals can provide the clarity you need and ensures you stay focused on the tasks that matter.

    2. Don’t compare yourself to others 

    Focusing on developing your individual strength will be most beneficial for your career progression and your mental health. One person’s strength is another person’s weakness, and accepting that your skill lies elsewhere means you can focus on getting ahead in an area that you excel.

    Nonetheless, be sure to seek opportunities outside of your comfort zone. For example, join in with a brainstorm outside of your usual remit. This is a great opportunity to listen in and learn from others, whilst providing value to that group by offering an outsider’s perspective.

    imposter syndrome

    Terri Burden, Customer Success Manager at Asana

    3. Establish how you want to receive feedback

    In the absence of facial cues and non-verbal means of communication, it’s often easy to mistake a simple comment for a harsh critique. To make sure you don’t misinterpret a message over email or otherwise, you need to take the initiative to ask for a quick chat via phone or video call.

    On the call, you can gain greater clarity on what the other person meant and more easily verbalise your response. This is also a great opportunity to establish ground rules. While not always possible due to time constraints, you could inform your colleague/ boss that verbal communication is preferred when receiving feedback. This’ll provide you with greater ease of mind and demonstrates your desire to learn and develop.

    4. Build confidence for video calls

    If you’re struggling with transitioning to video conferencing, you’re not alone. But this form of communication is here to stay. So take some extra steps ahead of the call to make yourself more comfortable. This can be as simple as writing a little script of items you wish to cover or contribute. Or even reach out to a teammate beforehand to check a point you’d like to make. Having this clarity ahead of the video call can make it easier to make your voice be heard.

    5, Finally, remember you’re human

    As cliche as it sounds, we are all human and mistakes are inevitable. So don’t be afraid to make an error, just be sure to turn it into a learning experience. Applying this insight to your future work can not only be beneficial to yourself, but to your teammates and junior colleagues.

    Reading now

    Popular