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Feel Like a Fraud? 5 Ways to Be More Confident at Work

5 minute read

This article originally appeared on Levo.com.

According to a new study from UK fashion brand Hobbs, when it comes to bosses, everyone wants a man. A third of women said they preferred a male boss, the survey of 2,500 employees found. It found that only ten percent of women preferred having a female manager, with 34 percent saying that they would rather work for a man.

So why the lack of love for women? Well, a big problem seems to be that women in management positions don’t feel comfortable to let their lighter, more humorous sides come through at work. They are afraid to show their personality, in some ways, because they feel like frauds or what is more commonly known in the corporate world as impostor syndrome.

Impostor syndrome is rampant even amongst the most successful of women. ”There are high-achieving celebrity impostor syndrome sufferers including Tina Fey, Maya Angelou, and Sheryl Sandberg, who have all openly admitted to feeling like an impostor at some point during their careers,” wrote Caroline Dowd-Higgins on The Huffington Post. Tory Burch said she still looks over her shoulder to see who they are talking about when they call her the “most influential designer in America today”. Nicky Dulieu, chief executive of Hobbs, told The Telegraph, she suffered from impostor syndrome early on in her career. She expected someone to come along and “expose” her for being clueless about her role.

It is this insecurity that can lead to women coming across as authoritative, personality-less robots. It makes it harder for people to like them. It is not going to be easy and will take some time, but overcoming your impostor Syndrome will be worth it in the end. Here are some starting tips:

Promote yourself

Women tend to refrain from promoting themselves because in the back of their mind they are still always remembering who is better than them. You may even go back as far as high school and remember that you may have been in Honors English but someone else was in Honors English andHonors History. You are voluntarily putting yourself in the pecking system. Larry Chiang, CEO of Duck9, wrote a brilliant article on getting over imposter syndrome for Women 2.0. You need to base your new strategy on the current environment you are in, not the previous one, he wrote. Cisco founder Sandy Lerner told him, “First rule of a game is to know you’re in one.”

(MORE: FOMO: Does It Get Better?)

Fake it ’til you make it

It is a super old cheesy saying, but it can be a life saver. Pretending that you absolutely belong there and no one should doubt it, can lead to you convincing yourself this is true. Laure Lee wrote on Leaders In Heels:

When we see that we can actually achieve something we didn’t think we could, it acts as an instant shot in the arm to our self-esteem and self-belief. This one’s scary because the confidence comes after we take that leap of faith, not before. Try it next time something comes up that you would normally avoid, such as a public speaking engagement or when your manager asks for volunteers on a tough new project.

Set your own standards

Joyce Roché, Avon’s first African American female vice president, COO of Carson Products Company, and author of The Empress Has No Clothes: Conquering Self-Doubt to Embrace Success believes that coming up with your own set of standards is the way to go. You have to stopcomparing yourself to your coworkers. She wrote:

Stop worrying about whether you’d be admitted into the specific club to which your colleagues belong. Instead, create your own club, with admission standards unique to you that play up your own strengths. This means you must stop concentrating on being a replica of them, and embrace being an original.

You are not as bad as you think

As we all know, women tend to blame themselves when they make a mistake or do something wrong while men, well, don’t. Research shows that women have imposter syndrome more often than men and it is because of this natural tendency to internalize everything. Dr. Valerie Young, author of The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer From the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive In Spite of It wrote:

While the impostor syndrome is not unique to women, they are more likely to agonize over tiny mistakes and blame themselves for failure, see even constructive criticism as evidence of their shortcomings; and chalk up their accomplishments to luck rather than skill. When they do succeed, they think ‘Phew, I fooled ‘em again.’

This attitude is exhausting, draining, and will result in these women never having confidence. But Young says if you just ride out this feeling of being a fraud and embrace it in a way, you will get over it. “The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of: ‘I’m a fraud! Oh God, they’re on to me! I’m a fraud!’ So you just try to ride the egomania when it comes and enjoy it, and then slide through the idea of fraud,” she wrote.

Look at this as a rite of passage

Hey, if Sheryl Sandberg and Tina Fey feel this way sometimes then maybe you are doing something right! In fact, research shows that it usually very smart and competent people that tend to feel like fake losers. Lazy slackers aren’t usually concerned about what other people think.

(MORE: The Power of Faking It ‘Til You Make It)

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