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Gaslighting At Work: Best Ways To Deal With It

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Have you ever been referred to as “too sensitive” or “crazy” by someone? Has your memory of what happened been called into doubt, but you still believe you are correct? If so, you might be a gaslighting victim. Commonly, gaslighting takes place in close relationships. Many people, however, also encounter gaslighting at work.

It is a type of psychological abuse that involves someone trying to control you by making you doubt yourself. We regularly use the word “gaslight” in reference to interpersonal relationships or politics. How about gaslighting at work, though?

Is it possible to influence someone in that way while working for a company? Simply put, absolutely!

What is gaslighting? 

The term “gaslighting” is derived from the title of a drama from 1938 and a movie from 1944, Gaslight, in which a husband tricks his wife into believing she has a mental disorder.

Gaslighting is a method of dominating another person. It accomplishes this by reducing a person’s confidence in oneself while increasing their reliance on the abusive individual.

Gaslighting frequently starts out subtly. The gaslighter starts by making unfounded claims about the victim’s dependability, competence, or mental stability.

People may start to doubt themselves as a result of this over time. The more often this occurs, the more authority and sway the abuser has.

The person may start to significantly rely on others to remember events or make decisions because they can’t trust themselves.

What is gaslighting at work?

When a coworker or supervisor (the gaslighter) manipulates you at work, you may begin to doubt your own sanity, memory, or senses. In order to make you bear the blame for the occurrences, the gaslighter may reject previous events, minimize your feelings, or retell them.

A boss who labels you hypersensitive for reporting a coworker who made inappropriate comments is an example of gaslighting. They could also cast doubt on your memory of the incidents, making you feel fake or making you wonder who you are.

Gaslighters can make you doubt the truth and your ability to carry out your duties.

In other words, they control information, language, and conduct (either unintentionally or purposely.) It downplays your feelings, prevents you from succeeding, and brings a lot of workplace stress.

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Signs of gaslighting in the workplace

You might hate going to work because of a gaslighting situation. This may make it difficult for you to enjoy your personal life and may even encourage you to search for another job. The worst part is that gaslighting, by its very nature, makes you doubt your own experiences and feelings, which makes it difficult to get help.

So how can you be certain that you’ve been the victim of gaslighting at work? Here are a few warning indicators of gaslighting at work:

1. You’re regularly excluded from crucial discussions 

The gaslighter will exclude you from crucial meetings, discussions, and projects without ever providing a convincing justification. 

They’ll try to convince you that you’re overreacting or that you were mistaken and didn’t need to be involved in that conversation when you ask why you weren’t included. 

They will persuade you that something is not important even when it is related to the work you are performing.

It may be a symptom that you are being gaslighted if you feel like you are always being left out.

2. You keep hearing complaints about how you perform.

If someone constantly tells you something unjustifiably bad about how you do at work, you probably have a psychological abuser on your hands. A lack of constructive criticism is a clear indicator of gaslighting at work.

Negative feedback can be challenging to evaluate, especially if it comes from your manager or another person with authority. Determine whether or not their criticism is accurate.

3. You overhear unflattering rumors about yourself.

Gaslighters may try to sabotage your perception of reality by talking behind your back about you. The gaslighter might maintain control and make you feel guilty by turning your teammates against you.

If you’re hearing unfounded rumors, try to identify where the gossip originated. You might have a gaslighter. Whatever the case, you have a right to defend yourself and dispel false rumors.

4. You witness the alleged gaslighter make negative comments publicly. 

Do you frequently feel belittled in public by a coworker? Have you ever noticed how uneasy and uncomfortable other people are when this occurs?

It might just be bullying. It is still unacceptable at work and not good for your mental health. However, if a coworker’s remarks cause you to doubt your own reality, they might be gaslighting you.

5. The alleged gaslighter minimizes your feelings, efforts, or perspectives.

Gaslighters frequently make you question your abilities by disparaging the time and effort you put into your work. Another instance of gaslighting would be when a coworker mocks your feelings and perceptions.

You might be pleased with a job you just finished. A gaslighter will find a way to make you feel as though you ought to have finished it more skillfully or quickly. They’ll make you wonder if you should even be proud of your achievements.

6. The gaslighter ignores concerns raised by you

A gaslighter will ignore your concerns if you raise them, especially if you mention the issue caused by them.  This is simply another trick they use to get you to think you’re the culprit.

For instance, you might observe that the alleged gaslighter routinely excludes you from email conversations that are pertinent to your line of work. When you confront them about it, they will claim that they made a mistake and that you are being unfair to them.

7. You notice that you frequently question your vision of reality

This is by far the most obvious indicator of gaslighting. 

You might be suffering from gaslighting if you start doubting and criticizing yourself after a conversation with a coworker. A gaslighter makes you believe that everything wrong with you or around you is the result of your own behavior and not the fault of anyone else.

Did all these signs ring a bell?

There are a few things you can do if you notice any of the aforementioned instances of gaslighting behavior and believe you or a coworker is being gaslighted at work.

Best Ways To Deal With Gaslighting At Work

1. Check if it is actually gaslighting

It can be challenging to determine if you are truly being gaslighted.

Sometimes all you have to cope with is an unkind or narcissistic coworker or manager. To make sure you’re dealing with a gaslighter, check the above-mentioned signs. 

Keep in mind that a gaslighter’s objective is to cause you to question your abilities. And if you’re still confused, never be afraid to solicit the opinions of your friends, family, and coworkers.

2. Have an honest conversation with someone

You can try talking to someone about how you’re feeling in an honest and open way. If you have, you can offer proof and give instances of when you were gaslighted. Effective communication at the workplace always helps you deal with your problems.

There might have been some sincere misconceptions. The other party may be overworked and not intentionally gaslighting you.

You shouldn’t anticipate an admission of guilt if the person is actively gaslighting you, though. Talking to someone will let you understand the entire situation better and help you take the correct steps.

3. Start gathering evidence

Once you’ve identified that you’re being gaslighted, you must start documenting this behavior. Capture screenshots of chats and make dated notes of your encounters with them. Include any interactions that make you question your perception of reality.

Try to avoid giving your gaslighter any room to confront you. For instance, send them a report by email rather than putting it on their desk so that you have a chain of evidence. Ask if you can record your calls if you and the gaslighter are meeting virtually. 

You can always explain that you need to record the meeting for your own benefit or the benefit of a coworker who is unable to attend.

4. Put yourself first.

Yes, it is super important to give priority to your work but make sure that you focus on your well-being first. 

Give yourself some time to think about self-care as you address your gaslighting issue. Recognize that you are not to blame for the situation and that you did nothing wrong. 

To shift your mindset to a more optimistic one, concentrate on reducing negative self-talk. Remind yourself again that you are not crazy and that the abuse you are going through is not anything you deserve.

If you need to, take a break, get some distance from the situation, and return to it later. Additionally, you can think about doing some mindful meditation, breathing exercises, and visualization exercises.

5. Ask for help

You need to realize that you’re not alone. You can reach out to your colleagues who will listen to you and not judge you. However, exercise caution when bringing up your problems with employees. They’ll always feel sorry for you, but it could make you feel even worse. 

Take guidance from someone you can rely on and who can serve as a witness in support of you for improved viewpoints.

The best course of action is to ask the human resources division for assistance. It might be an issue that another team member has already encountered, and the HR division may be more familiar with it. 

But the victim must never deny their emotions. They need to keep their feet firmly planted, confirm their truth, and have faith in themselves. Ask the HR department 

6. Speak up

What you allow is what will continue so it is super important to speak up for yourself. Gaslighting is effective because it perplexes you and undermines your self-assurance. The individual trying to gaslight you might conclude it isn’t worth it if you demonstrate that the behavior doesn’t upset you.

Gaslighting frequently includes insults and lies in addition to deception and lying. You can let them know you won’t tolerate the conduct by calling it out in a calm and assertive manner. Don’t be hesitant to speak up because doing so will encourage people to respect your privacy more.

They could try to cover up their insults with jokes or covert praise. They might discover these tactics won’t work on you if you ask them to clarify the joke as if you don’t understand it.

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Conclusion

It might be difficult to deal with gaslighting at work. Your mental health and fitness might suffer significantly, and in certain instances, it can be difficult to even determine whether the behavior is gaslighting. But now that you know this information, we hope you’ll be able to reclaim control and confront the gaslighter in your life.

Once you’ve dealt with the gaslighter, it would be a good idea to look for further measures to enhance your workplace and staff wellbeing.

 Vartika Kashyap
Vartika Kashyap

Vartika Kashyap is the Chief Marketing Officer at ProofHub and has been one of the LinkedIn Top Voices in 2018. Her articles are inspired by office situations and work-related events. She likes to write about productivity, team building, work culture, leadership, entrepreneurship among others and contributing to a better workplace is what makes her click.


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