Updated: Jun 30
As we emerge from the pandemic, many of us have insecurities and anxieties about what our future work lives will look like. Will I need to go back to the office full-time? If I continue to work from home, will I have access to the same opportunities as those who are in the office? What will the new normal mean for my career path?
These are very valid questions and concerns. They’re also likely to trigger self-doubt. Times of change and uncertainty are prime triggers of Impostor Syndrome – that feeling that you’re a fraud, or less competent than others think you are. Each time we find ourselves in a new situation, we become susceptible to the common fear that “I’m not doing it right.”
The good news is that we are all in the same boat. There is no precedent for the changes we’ve navigated over the last year and there is no blueprint for how we move forward from here. A lot of the questions we have will be answered over time. In the meantime, we can empower ourselves by focusing on what is within our control.
So excited to have Kim Meninger share her expertise with us this week. I met Kim on her Impostor Syndrome Files podcast and connected with her mission to coach women, introverts, and other often marginalized groups to become their best. Kim's views and solutions for impostor syndrome certainly can resonate with many introverts today. -Steve Friedman
If you struggle with self-doubt and uncertainty about the post-pandemic workplace, here are three tips:
1. Humanize your workplace connections
Whether you’re working from home and interacting via Slack, email or Zoom, or you’re in the office communicating with co-workers in person, remember that everyone you engage is another living, breathing human being with the same fears, hopes and dreams that you have. It’s easy to feel intimidated or frustrated by mythical figures that we create in our minds. But if we take the time to deepen our connections, empathize and better understand each other, we will find our own experience more rewarding. And our confidence will grow because we’ll feel a greater sense of belonging.
For introverts, the idea of networking may feel overwhelming or undesirable. But this form of connection doesn’t come from “working the room,” or socializing in large groups. This is a natural extension of your existing superpower. This form of connection comes from engaging in meaningful, one-on-one interactions and listening to understand, not just waiting for your turn to speak. A recommended action step is to identify one new person (per week, month, etc. – you decide the frequency) to engage in a deeper conversation. As you begin to reap the rewards of this approach (psychologically and professionally), you’ll be motivated to continue to connect.
2. Be vulnerable
Those who identify as high-achieving introverts tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves to be strong and self-sufficient. This often shows up as perfectionism and a deep reluctance to ask for help. You may feel like you’re cheating if you don’t do it yourself. You may fear that you’ll expose your weaknesses if you ask for help in areas you’ve convinced yourself you should already know how to do. Or, you may simply not be engaging in the social interactions that often lead to organic support, so asking for help feels like extra effort.
We do ourselves a great disservice when we try to go it alone, especially in times of great change. Not only is it inefficient to hope that we’re accurately reading people’s minds, but it’s also anxiety-provoking. We worry about our performance, which increases our stress levels. And we isolate ourselves from the resources who can help us. As difficult as it may feel to do so, our best option is to be vulnerable. Don’t be a hero. If you have questions, ask them. If you need support, request it. In the end, you’ll feel much stronger and better connected when you leverage your resources.
3. Seek to be of service
In times of uncertainty, it’s not always easy to know exactly where to focus our attention. Lack of clear communication, changing priorities and shifting dynamics can be overwhelming. But what is within our control is how we choose to show up and face these changes.
Rather than allowing yourself to be swept up in the anxiety of the unknown, focus on how you can be of service – to yourself, your team and your overall organization. How can you be part of the change? Do you have skills you can contribute in new ways? Can you support others who may be struggling with the transition? This could be the perfect time to talk with your manager or other influencers about re-crafting your role. When you prioritize being of service, you not only increase your overall value and influence, you also increase your confidence because when you’re thinking about others, you’re not thinking about yourself and your own doubts.
Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is not easy. But as we navigate the changes that lie ahead, humanizing your work connections, being vulnerable and seeking to be of service will empower you to stay focused, maximize your value and increase your confidence.
About Kim Meninger
As an executive coach, Kim Meninger is passionate about empowering women and members of other traditionally marginalized groups to become more confident, visible and influential leaders. Having spent over 10 years in the high-tech industry, she experienced first-hand the unique challenges and opportunities facing women in traditionally male-dominated environments. She strives to be the resource to women that she did not have during her own corporate career.
Kim has a BA in psychology and an MBA from Boston College. She is an ICF Associate Certified Coach and CCE Board Certified Coach with certifications in career, executive and leadership development coaching.