“Your voice is the necessary one in the environment, and if you don’t speak up, then it becomes a missed opportunity,” she said. “Sometimes leaders are the only one in the room to have a particular voice or point of view and you have to be assured about your own point of view.”
Learning to be assertive is easier said than done, especially when you feel like an outsider, and Ms. Durruthy added that the issue is a systemic one that companies should be willing to address themselves. On an individual level, however, she and Dr. Cokley suggested a few “impostor-slaying” tactics.
Join an affinity group
It’s important to find workers with similar backgrounds and experiences.
“People high in impostorism typically struggle alone, silently,” Dr. Cokley said. “If you’re feeling that way, you are most certainly not the only person feeling that way.” He recommends joining or creating an affinity network, “a group of people who are similar to you, based on gender or ethnicity, and you can talk about your vulnerabilities and insecurities.”
Many workplaces offer their own affinity groups, also called employee resource groups or shared interest groups, for employees who may need the support of peers with shared experiences. You may also be able to find affinity alumni networks through your college, and on social media platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook, or just create a more intimate group with a few friends dealing with the same issue. You just want to surround yourself with other people who can relate.
Recruit a mentor
A mentor is especially helpful for those dealing with impostorism because he or she can serve as a professional anchor, Ms. Durruthy said. Your mentor will ideally have experiences similar to your own and be willing to share advice on how to deal with those experiences.
“Look for someone whose accomplishments and approach to how they perform, how they interact with people, how they think about things, you find valuable,” she said.
A mentor should also encourage you to hone your own unique perspective and skills, Ms. Durruthy said.