Gaslighting at work: everything you need to know

Published November 11th, 2022 - 10:18 GMT
Gaslighting at work: everything you need to know

Most of us have heard about gaslighting in relationships, but not many know that gaslighting can happen at the workplace too. And even though some might wonder how such a level of manipulation can occur at work, we are here to tell you everything you need to know about gaslighting at work! 

What is gaslighting at work? 

Many might wonder what the face of gaslighting might look like at work. In short, gaslighting occurs when someone makes you doubt your own perception of events. Not only that but a manager or colleague that gaslights you might try to invalidate your feelings or hurt you in a sneaky way. When they do so, you might feel like you are “imagining” things and have the need to second guess your thoughts about things. 

To make things clearer, imagine a situation when your boss promises you a promotion after you complete an important project. However, soon after you finalize the project, your manager acts oblivious and denies ever offering a promotion. This might leave you worrying and second-guessing what really happened or if you did not deliver as expected. 

Common signs of gaslighting at work

While gaslighting might not be easy to pinpoint, there are certain things that you can look out for. Here are a few things that can help you recognize if you are being gaslighted at work: 

- They continuously lie
Managers or colleagues who gaslight others usually tell obvious lies. This is especially challenging if the one lying is someone who has power. When a person has power over you, it becomes much easier to leave you feeling confused and doubtful. 

Therefore, it is important that you keep an eye out for repetitive lies that leave you feeling doubtful. 

- They do not keep their promises

A key part of gaslighting involves being promised things that you never seem to get. Just like with the example of the boss who did not keep his promise of giving his employee a promotion, gaslighters will make you feel like you cannot trust your version of events. 

- They make statements that they deny

Just like with the promises, gaslighters also make offensive statements and then completely deny them. However, what makes things worse is that gaslighters can be “two-faced” in which they might appear as they fight back against racist or sexist comments. This double-faced behavior makes it harder for you to trust how you see things. 

- They lash out whenever you speak up

In addition to denying statements that they continuously make, gaslighters also make sure to make a scene if you try to stand up for yourself. They can say things like, “why are you being irrational?” By doing so, gaslighters will invalidate your feelings and thus make you want to avoid expressing your concerns. 

- They confuse you with compliments

However, treating someone badly can push someone to eventually quit. That’s why gaslighters tend to make a few compliments and positive remarks to keep you around. Not only does this make you want to stay, but it will also make you think that you might have misjudged them. 

How to deal with gaslighting at work

Knowing when you are being gaslighted is not easy. And even if you are aware that you are being gaslighted, knowing how to deal with it can be difficult. 

The first step to dealing with gaslighting at work involves becoming aware and acknowledging that you are being gaslighted. Once you do that, you can work on other steps to put an end to it. 

After that, work on documenting your interactions with the gaslighters, such as writing everything in an email. You can also work on being direct and speaking up for yourself directly with the gaslighter. 

In addition, sharing things with someone you trust and feel safe with can help you see things from a different perspective. This will help you avoid self-doubt and make you feel supported. 

Ultimately, being aware of red flags at the workplace is important for both your mental health and professional growth. Therefore, it is instrumental to know how to spot a gaslighter, deal with them, and eventually stand up to them.

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