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8 ways to deal with Imposter Syndrome

Tanya Livesey from the Talent Business shares her insights for how to beat Imposter Syndrome at work

Tanya Livesey helps senior C-suite clients and leaders overcome leadership struggles in the workplace. As a result, she has a plethora of sound advice for how to manage Imposter Syndrome, how to build confidence at work, and learning how to make a good impression at work. The key is to change the way you think.

1. Talk about it
“One of the best things you can do to challenge your thinking is to talk about it and realise you’re not alone. This can feel challenging as it may feel like you are exposing yourself. However, talking to mentors or peers, and hearing that they feel the same, can often make you feel better and allows us to share a common experience.”

2. Change your inner narrative
“We often say things to ourselves that we wouldn’t say to our worst enemies. Negative thoughts are normal but it’s how you respond to them that matters. Become conscious of your inner voice and what it says. Next time you’re feeling anxious about a challenge ahead of you, try catching your negative thinking and switching it to something positive instead." Consider thinking to yourself, 'actually, I can do this', or perhaps, 'it's okay, think how much much I'll learn.' Catching, switching and reframing self-talk may seem artificial at first, but regularly challenging unhelpful thoughts "can make a big difference".

3. Give yourself perspective
Anxious thoughts can often lead us to predict the worst and blow things out of proportion. All we need to do is give ourselves a little perspective. "Top tip: get a pen and draw a ‘scale of catastrophe’ and give yourself a score, from 0 at one end to 100 at the other, for how bad the situation is (with 100 being the worst thing that could possibly happen to you). The chances are your score won’t be as high as you thought, so it will help give you the perspective you need.”

4. Recognise your strengths
“Too often we don’t recognise our unique value and strengths. It’s unthinkable you’ve got to where you are today on sheer good luck alone, so it’s okay to deserve the success you have and to acknowledge that you’ve got here on your own merit.”

5. Act confident
“When we experience self-doubt, we often make ourselves smaller: we minimise our presence, lower our gaze, make ourselves invisible.  If you’re feeling uncomfortable in a given situation - be aware of your body posture and how you could use it more openly and confidently and your feelings of self-confidence will follow.”

6. Embrace failure
“Our desire for perfection can make us highly risk-averse. The danger with this is that we remain in our comfort zone and accept living at less than our potential. History is littered with geniuses from Mozart to Darwin who were prolific in their failures, but the key to their success is that they simply did not let failure hold them back.”

7. Be proud
“Make a list of all the things you’ve achieved in the last couple of years. They can be big or small. Sometimes we don’t give ourselves credit for all the little things we achieve every day. Get down as many as you can think of and don’t edit the list. When you need to, look back at this list and remind yourself of all that you’ve achieved and know that you are capable and you deserve your success.”

8. Accept praise
​“When someone compliments you or gives positive feedback, don’t launch into an explanation of why you don’t deserve praise, just say ‘thank you’ and take a moment to accept it and take it in. It’s difficult to do, but so important to recognise and appreciate when others see strengths and capabilities in you.”

Tanya Livesey is a Creative Leadership Coach and Global Head of Creative for the Talent Business, advising some of the industry’s most senior talent with creative career advice. If you are feeling like it’s time to put some of your thinking into action and develop your leadership skills to future-proof your business, sign up to our Leading in Creativity course. Check out our full range of D&AD Masterclasses to see how you could consolidate your own creative skills.

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