The danger of imposter syndrome

In my career as communications person, I was often privileged to attend meetings with the executive board, command group and senior management, political leadership.

But did I always add my two pennies worth?


Sometimes, because I was too in awe of the bling and brass.

In other cases, it was made clear that my views were not welcome.

And sometimes, when I spoke up, I perceived surprise and even depreciation. So, I stopped again.

But mostly, I did not add my voice because I felt I have nothing to offer and that my opinions are worthless.

In particular, I felt my "expertise" was not sufficient because I don't hold a degree or other kind of certification in the discussed field (that's maybe a bit "German", without certificate, one cannot do a job).

I suffer(ed) from the imposter syndrome.

So, I share this blog post to encourage you.

Make your voice heard when you have an idea, a solution, knowledge that is missing in the discussion you are witnessing, and (after reading this) participating.

(Shut up, if you really have nothing to contribute, no clue about the issue.)

The danger of imposter syndrome

Source: Do You Suffer From Imposter Syndrome?
The problem with imposter syndrome is that it can be self-fulfilling.
It knocks your confidence, and so you come across as somebody unsure of yourself, which makes others doubt you.
In the worst cases, you stop speaking up at all for fear of being ‘found out’ or ‘getting it wrong’.

You have a unique perspective

But here is the thing, it is not about being the smartest person in the room or even knowing all of the answers.
It is about having a unique perspective that nobody else has.
Your life experience means nobody sees the world like you, thinks like you or approaches a problem like you.
That unique perspective has value.
There are people out there who will value your perspective and your voice.
There will be clients who value your way of thinking and bosses who like how you approach problems.

A lack of experience is not the issue

You may feel you don’t have enough experience or that you don’t know the right terminology, but those facts can be an advantage.

In my current job, it's impossible to really know about all the subject matter I come across. And in my school of thinking and my job, I see it as advantage.

The "curse of knowledge" negatively influences communication. If I don't get it, how can I expect our audience to get it (easily, quickly).

Maturity brings with it blinkered thinking and jargon that may sound intelligent but is impenetrable for many.

Especially for communication, jargon is really bad (see EC web writing rules on jargon & clear writing alternatives).

In short, your voice has value to certain people, just not everybody, and that is okay.

But you won't find out who values your voice until you speak up.

You don’t have to appeal to everybody

Once this fact sinks in it is incredibly freeing because you realise that
you don’t have to appeal to everybody, just people who like your
perspective for what it is.

The cynic working longer in the Commission in me chimes in, 'of course, not everyone - just my head of unit, director, director general'.

But don't underestimate the power of feeling support from others to continue with your line of thought, argument, no matter who dismisses your idea.

You are sharing your opinion and your experience. People can disagree with it, but it is still yours.
Just be sure to express it as your perspective and not absolute truth!

Don’t be afraid to speak up

In short, I shared this with the same intention as the original author: to...

...encourage you to speak up and have confidence in yourself.
People will not always accept what you say, but that is okay.
That doesn’t make your perspective any less useful or valid.
it is in that meeting, at that meet up or even online, your voice can
bring value to your clients, your organisation and the broader web
Never be afraid to speak up, simply because you feel there are more valuable voices in the room.
That is just not true.
Every voice has value in different ways.
Be encouraged!

Change can come from all of us!

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