What to Do When You Don’t Think You Belong in the Room

When you enter a new role, position, or company, it is normal to feel some uneasiness about the change.

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Maybe you are new to a company, returning to work after a leave of absence, perhaps it is your very first job, or you just got a promotion to a new role within your current company. Whatever the reason, there may be moments (or many moments) when you feel that you are not as qualified as your colleagues. You may doubt your skills and abilities and question why you were hired or promoted. Being in a new environment can create feelings of uncertainty, but the following tips will help build your confidence in those moments of self-doubt.

#1 Fake it Until You Make it. You have most likely heard the quote by Mary Kay Ash that says, “Fake it ‘til you make it.”  Sometimes, that’s just what you have to do. This means act like you have been in the role as long as your colleagues—confident, but not cocky. Any new situation can feel uncomfortable and the imposter syndrome is triggered even more in a new environment.  Pivot your thinking to realize it is a temporary growing pain and not a reflection on your skills, intelligence, or abilities. You should be aware that you have a lot to learn but not let your self-doubt show through. 

#2 Think of Past Accomplishments. Boost yourself up! Recalling success moments can help you feel confident in yourself and give you a positive mindset to face your new role. If you have to create a list that you can pull out in times of negativity, do it. After all, negative thoughts take away from feelings of positivity and confidence. Silence your inner critic and focus on the successful moments in your career and in your personal life. These can be moments where you felt good enough and even those when you initially did not but overcame those feelings anyway.

#3 Develop a Support Network.  Whenever you start something new in your career, you are brought outside of your comfort zone, and you may begin to question your qualifications and worthiness in the workplace. It is important to surround yourself with positive, supportive people that will lift you up, both professionally and personally. At work, speaking with a trusted mentor, friend, or find an external professional network of peers that you can share challenges and struggles. The most important thing is to make sure you don’t try to go it alone. 

#4 Push Your Learning Curve. The faster you learn the ins and outs of your position, the quicker your confidence will build. Do your own research on the industry or projects that the company is working on so that you have some background knowledge. If needed, getting a career or executive coach can accelerate your learning curve, especially when new to a company or role. Small steps toward progress in your role will maintain your level of confidence.

Don’t be afraid to speak up in meetings, which gets you involved from the start. Asking probing questions during meetings can give you a better understanding of the business and show that you are confident in your ability to learn something new. No one expects you to know everything from Day 1, but if you hit the ground running with a positive attitude to learn, you’ll find that you push past that temporary feeling of being unqualified much faster.

When you enter a new role, position, or company, it is normal to feel some uneasiness about the change. However, these strategies for boosting your confidence can help overcome feelings of inadequacy.

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