How to embrace impostor syndrome
We often think of impostor syndrome as a flaw, but dealing with clients allowed me to see it as a valuable asset. Embracing it allowed me to get more information from those I am talking to while establishing credibility in my field.
A Spin on Direct Questions
On average, I spend roughly five hours a day answering questions, whether they come from clients, colleagues in other departments or my reports.
At times, I receive questions that I cannot answer right there and then because I either don't know the answer or need more information. When this happens, you often feel an impostor, but you can embrace this feeling to answer your client's questions better.
To do this, you cannot ask a direct question. After all, you are supposed to provide an answer, not ask more questions. So, ask them what precisely they mean when they use a particular term. Most industry-specific terms are used a little differently between players of the same sector, making your question legitimate.
Reframing the question as if you are asking for more details will make you appear more reliable and allows you to get a better understanding of what you are being asked for.
Draw from experiences
When you start dealing with clients, what becomes apparent is that many questions are very similar. Therefore, you can rely on past knowledge to face current events.
Framing the response as "other companies in your sector approach this issue by..." you will be providing value to your answer by combining it with sector knowledge, which helps build credibility.
While the two companies you are comparing might not be precisely the same, an immediate potential solution is often appreciated. Plus, this buys you some time to gather more insights on the issue or obtain more details about the issue at hand and follow-up a little later.
If you cannot draw from experience, then your best option is to reframe the information you have been given. By reframing what the client has told you to them, you can both check your understanding was correct, and you allow them to add any other relevant information they might have missed the first time.
The way to do this is to start by stating, "what you are saying is..." or "what you mean is...". Moreover, this is an excellent exercise for you because it allows you to think through what you have been told and clear out any doubt that you may not have had clear initially.