Employee Comms

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome as an Internal Communications Pro.


 — March 11th, 2022

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome as an Internal Communications Pro.

Have you ever doubted yourself or not felt good enough when you’ve pitched your recommendations or given comms advice to a senior leader? 

Maybe you’ve found it difficult to speak up and share your ideas or views in a meeting - you listen to others and they sound so smart and experienced. 

Perhaps you feel paralyzed by perfectionism as you draft your communication strategy or leadership blog.  Or are you constantly going on courses, seeking qualifications in an attempt to feel like you’re ‘expert’ enough?

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If any of these scenarios resonate, you’re not alone.  These are classic signs of Imposter Syndrome and it’s rife amongst the successful and professional communities.

Imposter Syndrome is where someone feels like they’re not good enough, regardless of their achievements, status, or successes.  They doubt, undermine, or cannot recognize their capability, competence and intellect and don’t believe they’re worthy of success. 

They think and worry that they’ll be discovered as the fraud they believe themselves to be. In a nutshell, they think negatively of themselves.

It’s debilitating and is one of the biggest things limiting your life and happiness.

It’s the cause of:

  • Crippling unworthiness, self-doubt and discontent
  • Critical, unsupportive thoughts about yourself or in comparison to others
  • Staying out of the limelight, not speaking up in meetings, holding yourself back
  • Feeling stuck, frustrated, and unfulfilled
  • Stress, anxiety, burnout, worry, insomnia
  • Perfectionism, working long hours, and overcomplicating work
  • Trying to do things on your own to prove you can do it
  • Not seeking input, help, or support from others
  • Not putting yourself forward for promotions, opportunities, or new challenges

And it’s all grounded in fear.  Fear of failure, fear of being excluded, fear of disappointment, fear of rejection, fear of shame … the list goes on. 

Being an emotion, it means fear drives how we think and behave.  It can be really helpful to keep us safe, to keep us alert, but in modern times what we fear often isn’t ever going to happen or cause us real harm.

In the case of Imposter Syndrome, the fear is subconscious or unquestioned, clouding your judgment often without you realizing it.

So how can you overcome it?

Build your self-awareness. 

Notice your thoughts and feelings - become more conscious of what’s going on inside of you.  Know that thoughts and feelings are not facts, so if they don’t serve you, change them. 

The choice is yours.  You can reframe any negative thought you say to yourself, or choose to ignore or dismiss it.  Make a commitment to yourself to switch the critical, disempowering narrative to a kinder, supportive, appreciative one. 

At a bare minimum, you’ll feel better than you do right now!

Recognize that everyone else is human too. 

We all have our insecurities, worries, self-doubt, but we all have a job to do.  You have a contract of employment right? 

So someone selected you to do the job, they believe you have the right experience and they also know, as everyone else does in their role, that there’s much to learn and develop. 

Your CEO — they’re human, trying their best, making mistakes, learning, and growing.  Your boss — the same.  The senior leader you’re supporting - the same.  We’re all the same. 

So just be you and fulfill your role to the best of your ability - that means speaking up, sharing your thoughts, recommendations, and advice, by the way!

Become your own biggest champion. 

Notice the disempowering untruths you attribute to your successes to date, like ‘I got lucky …’ ‘I had a lot of support to get here.’ ‘Anyone could do what I do, it’s nothing difficult.’ 

‘People are just being kind, they don’t really mean it (the great feedback).’ Own your successes.  List them out.  Get into a habit of writing out three good things you did each day. See what you’ve achieved.  Notice your qualities and character.  Allow yourself to feel good about them all. 

YOU got yourself to this point in time, not anyone else.  You made the decisions, put in the work, overcame, found courage, kept going.  You need to focus on becoming your own biggest champion.

Watch out for comparisonitis!

Next time you catch yourself comparing yourself, feeling in awe or inadequate in another person’s presence, notice the qualities in them that you’re wishing you could be more like — realize that’s what you’re being called to work on. 

Remember however to see this work as an expansion of yourself, rather than using it as another stick to beat yourself up and not feel good enough. 

Then take a leap of faith, try out that thing,. Act now.

Recognize and accept that perfectionism doesn’t exist.

Don’t even try for it. Take the pressure off yourself to be perfect and instead see every opportunity as a way to learn and grow. 

And if thoughts like ‘I can’t let my standards slip’ or ‘What will others think of my sloppiness or lack of knowledge?’, or some other such limiting belief comes to mind, go back to reframing your thoughts. 

Try involving another person or ask for help or input and begin to see how valuable it is to develop things together.  Two minds are better than one!

Imposter Syndrome is something that can be overcome. If it’s not serving you, then it is your responsibility to change it. 

You can work through these tips, get a supportive colleague or friend to hold you accountable, or find a great coach to help you.

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