Personal Development
What Is Gaslighting at Work? 6 Signs of ...

What Is Gaslighting at Work? 6 Signs of ...

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What Is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is an insidious form of psychological abuse and manipulation that causes people to doubt their own feelings, instincts, memories, and experiences of reality. It is most commonly seen in relationships, where a partner may gradually manipulate their partner until the behaviour becomes a pattern. In the workplace, it can occur when an employer or colleague consistently undermines an employee's self-worth or confidence. It is critical to recognize gaslighting and the associated signs, as well as how to protect yourself from such manipulative behaviour.

What Does Gaslighting Look Like in the Workplace?

Gaslighting is sometimes incorrectly assumed to be synonymous with bullying, exclusion, or other forms of psychological aggression. In reality, it is a type of psychological manipulation. The gaslighter seeks to control the gaslightee in a way that causes them to question their own memory and experiences. In a relationship, for instance, this could manifest in a partner often requesting a specific food and then having no recollection of doing so. At work, this might mean a supervisor claiming unawareness of a deliverable that was provided to them only a few hours earlier.

Gaslighter Characteristics

Gaslighters can be difficult to spot - although some may be overtly charming, others may be more subdued in their approach. Common traits of a gaslighter include having a highly manipulative personality, low self-esteem, insecurities, a need for control, and narcissism.

Strategies for Protection

Fortunately, there are some protective strategies that can help foster resilience against gaslighting. It is important to pay attention to your feelings and emotions, have faith in your own impressions, and seek out supportive people. Additionally, it is necessary to cultivate self-respect and recognize the power of walking away from a gaslighter. Ultimately, developing resilience and learning how to challenge these behaviours is the best defence against gaslighting.

6 Indicators of Gaslighting in the Workplace

Gaslighting in the workplace can be hard to detect since it is often more subtle than other forms of emotional abuse, such as bullying. It can lead to feelings of insecurity and psychological distress. If you are unsure whether you are being gaslighted, look out for these six signs:

  • You frequently hear negative accounts of your performance
  • The suspected gaslighter publically expresses negative things about you
  • You hear untrue gossip about yourself
  • You find yourself questioning your own experience or memories
  • The suspected gaslighter belittles your emotions, efforts, or perceptions
  • You are excluded from meetings or events related to your job

Gaslighting in the Workplace: What It Is and How to Deal with It

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that's often employed in the workplace. It involves making someone doubt their own reality or perception, typically through tactics such as denying an obvious truth or misrepresenting facts. Gaslighters may also give positive reinforcement just when their victim is reaching a breaking point, and may lie about small things, pretend to be helpful, downplay situations, and say one thing but do another. It's important to know the signs of gaslighting so that you can identify it and protect yourself.

Identifying Gaslighting in the Workplace

Gaslighting in the workplace can have an incredibly negative impact on mental health. To properly identify and confront this kind of harassment, it is important to be aware of the various signs, including:

  • Lack of Healthy Feedback: Negative feedback can be difficult to analyze, especially if it's coming from your manager or someone in a position of power. To determine whether the feedback is a sign of gaslighting, it is important to check-in with a team member and see if they agree.
  • Negative Public Comments: If you feel like your coworker belittles you in public regularly and others feel uncomfortable when this happens, it may be an indication of gaslighting.
  • Spread of Negative Gossip: A gaslighter will often spread malicious rumors in an attempt to turn your fellow team members against you. If you're hearing untrue rumors, it may be time to stand up for yourself.
  • Doubt of Perception of Reality: If you find yourself continually doubting your perception of reality after dealing with a coworker, you may be experiencing gaslighting.
  • Belittling of Efforts: A gaslighter may also belittle your efforts, emotions, or perceptions in an attempt to make you question yourself.

Confronting Gaslighting in the Workplace

When dealing with a gaslighter, it is important to remain level-headed and avoid getting emotional. If the gaslighter is in a position of power, it is important to talk to someone in human resources or another trusted manager. Additionally, enlist the help of your team members to stand up to the gaslighter and confront them directly. By understanding the common signs of gaslighting in the workplace and taking the necessary steps to confront it, you can protect your mental health and wellbeing.

Gaslighting in the Workplace: 7 Examples

Gaslighting is an abusive form of manipulation used to keep people under someone's control. In the workplace, it can be hard to identify and address. Here are seven examples of gaslighting in the workplace and five steps to take if you suspect you're being gaslit.

Examples of Gaslighting in the Workplace

  • Giving Encouragement at Strange Times: Gaslighters may give their victim positive reinforcement at the most unexpected moments. They want to maintain control over their victim and will recognize when their victim is close to identifying their role. For example, they will take their victim out to lunch to celebrate some success that their victim doesn't feel is fully deserved, despite knowing the victim is close to acknowledging their abusive behavior.
  • Lying About Small Things: A gaslighter may take something from their victim's workspace without asking and then deny when confronted about it. It may appear to be a petty offense, but this is an undeniable example of gaslighting in the workplace. It is an attempt to make the victim doubt their perception and understanding of what has taken place.
  • Pretending to Be Helpful: The gaslighter might tell their victim they're working on something for them even though they haven't even started. They will then use manipulative tactics to make their victim feel guilty for pressuring them or that the task isn't important. This behavior is a sign of gaslighting in the workplace.
  • Downplaying: Gaslighters will tell their victims that it's okay to miss the morning meeting and downplay its importance. However, if their victim does miss it, they will grill them and use aggressive language as if they had never said such a thing. This is a sign of gaslighting as it uses manipulation to maintain control.
  • Saying One Thing and Doing Another: The gaslighter will say one thing and do the opposite. For example, they may advocate for lunch breaks that are strictly 30 minutes long, but then you catch them taking a 45-minute break the very next day. If their victim tries to confront them, the gaslighter will have an excuse, attempting to instill doubt into their victim.

How to Deal with Gaslighting

It can be hard to confront gaslighting in the workplace, so if you feel like this is what you are experiencing, it is important to take the following steps:

  • Confirm that it really is gaslighting: It can be tricky to tell if someone is gaslighting you. Use the examples above to confirm that you are dealing with a gaslighter. Remember that their goal is for you to doubt yourself, so don't hesitate to ask for the opinion of other people in your life.
  • Document the gaslighter's behavior: Start collecting evidence of the gaslighter's behavior. Take screenshots of messages or take notes of interactions you have had with them. Make sure to record when you feel like they are making you doubt your own reality.
  • Get support and focus on self-care: Dealing with the fallout from the gaslighter's behavior can be difficult. Remind yourself that it is the behavior that is the problem, not your self-worth or competence. It is important to seek support from people who care about you and focus on taking care of yourself.
  • Meet with your gaslighter: After documenting the gaslighter's behavior, meet with them and explain why their behavior is unacceptable and why it must stop. Make sure to set your expectations and consequences and ask for the gaslighter's respect and agreement.

Gaslighting in the Workplace: How to Recognize and Deal with It

Gaslighting is a serious issue, and it's important to recognize it and know how to handle it should it arise in the workplace. If you suspect someone at work of gaslighting you, there are a few steps you can take to protect yourself and de-escalate the situation.

Recognize the Abuse

The first step is to remind yourself that you have not caused the situation and you are not in the wrong. Reaching out to a third-party for an objective take on the issue can help you keep perspective and avoid internalizing any negative self-talk. It is important to keep in mind that you are not crazy, but are instead experiencing abuse.

Confront the Gaslighter

The next step is to confront the gaslighter in a direct yet non-accusatory way. When gathering evidence to present, try to focus strictly on the impact it has had on your job. If your gaslighter is a manager, it might be best to confide in a leader or human resources team member you trust. Additionally, consider bringing a coworker to back up your point.

If All Else Fails, Escalate the Issue

If your conversations with the gaslighter are not proving successful, it may be necessary to contact HR and escalate the issue. Explain the situation to them, provide any evidence you have collected, and let them know you want a constructive resolution. The HR department should be equipped to help you handle the situation.

Standing Up Against Gaslighting

When facing workplace gaslighting, it is important to take back control and stand up against the gaslighter. Unfortunately, identifying this behavior can be difficult, and can even lead to mental health issues. However, with the right information, you can feel empowered to take action against gaslighting.

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Gender bias is still an issue in the workplace, from the gender pay gap to inequalities due to race. It is important to recognize and challenge gender bias whenever it appears. Strategies for a more gender-inclusive environment include strategies for greater visibility, career development programs, and enlisting allies in the workplace.

Creating Psychological Safety at Work

Creating a psychologically safe work environment is essential for helping employees and leaders grow. Managers should foster a culture of curiosity, promote creativity and risk-taking, show empathy, and encourage feedback. It is also important to address any negative behaviors or attitudes that interfere with psychological safety.

Disabilities at Work - A Guide to Understanding Disability Inclusion

Disability inclusion is a key part of the workplace, and it is essential to understand and accommodate the needs of those living with a disability. Education and awareness are major components of creating a more inclusive environment. Additionally, creating policies that support recruitment, retention, and advancement of disabled employees, as well as offering communication, technology, and other accommodations, are all beneficial.

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