The word “Gaslighting” comes from a 1938 production of the play “Gas Light.” The plot revolved around a husband who duped his wife into questioning her own reality in order to put her to a mental institution and steal her inheritance.
While this is a clear example of manipulation, gaslighting at work can be subtle, perplexing, and difficult to detect. Gaslighting is a sort of manipulative and improper mistreatment that is common in toxic relationships. An employer’s abuse of power and control is a classic form of gaslighting. It can have a substantial impact on a person’s self-esteem and self-worth over time.
The abuser manipulates or changes a circumstance in order to get the victim to doubt oneself and their reality. At first, the victim may be unaware of the emotional abuse, but they may begin to doubt their own sanity. In romantic relationships, gaslighting is a typical occurrence. However, it can be found among intimate relatives, family members, and coworkers.
So, how can you tell if you’re being gaslighted? Keep an eye out for some of these warning indicators. Y
Another key symptom of workplace gaslighting is: You will be left out of critical meetings, conversations, and projects by the gaslighter, who will never explain why. When you ask why you weren’t included, they’ll tell you you’re being dramatic or that you were mistaken and didn’t need to be in that talk. They’ll try to persuade you that something isn’t important to your work, even if it is. If you feel like you’re always being left out, it could be an indication that you’re being gaslighted.
When you bring up a problem with a gaslighter, they’ll ignore it (especially if it’s one they created). This is simply another tactic they use to make you believe you’re the problem. You might notice, for example, that the suspected gaslighter repeatedly excludes you from email threads that are pertinent to your job. When you confront them about it, they’ll explain they didn’t mean to do it or that you’re being unfair to them for making an honest mistake.
You’re capable. You’re very skilled at what you do. So, why are you being informed lately that you’ve made many mistakes when you’re pretty sure you haven’t? That could be a gaslighter’s strategy, especially if they’re jealous of your accomplishment.
They compliment you privately yet condemn you in front of the team (or vice versa). Remember that the gaslighter’s goal is to make you doubt your vision of reality, so they’ll twist things around so you’re never sure which version to believe. They can accomplish this by having two faces. When you’re around, they act friendly, but when you’re not, they berate you. Alternatively, they may criticize you while no one else is present, yet laud you when others are present. The idea is to make you doubt what you think you know.
This is a huge one: if you’ve been gaslighted for a long time, your coworkers will notice that you’re being treated differently. They may or may not say anything or assist you at this point. It’s up to you to discover a trustworthy coworker who will tell you what they’re seeing. You can be offered “busy work,” pointless projects that keep you occupied but have no actual influence, rather than simply being excluded. This could be an attempt to undermine your authority and ruin your productivity so that you have no outcomes to show for your performance reviews because you were never assigned any significant work to begin with.
The gaslighter manipulates situations in order to make you look bad. For example, the gaslighter may purposefully “forget” to contact you about a meeting, causing you to miss it since you were unaware of it. They will then chastise you for missing the meeting.
So what can you do about it?
Many publications regarding workplace gaslighting encourage you to confront the possible gaslighter, but I don’t believe that’s a good idea (unless you honestly believe the activity is inadvertent), because a gaslighter is unlikely to admit to the practice.
Your manager (if your manager isn’t the gaslighter) and HR are the ideal people to talk to if you’re dealing with a gaslighter. Bring the proof you’ve acquired with you and allow them act as a neutral third party between you and your gaslighter to guarantee that the situation is rectified. Complete avoidance is sometimes impossible, such as when dealing with a gaslighting supervisor.
Avoid spending time alone with the gaslighter, as any subsequent retelling will be your word against theirs. When you meet with the gaslighter in person, try to bring at least one reliable witness with you. Also, avoid taking on initiatives that require you to collaborate with them, and don’t fall for their attempts to build a deeper personal relationship with you.
The important thing is to locate someone you can trust, someone who isn’t on the gaslighter’s side. This could be challenging, especially if your entire company is poisonous. Is it common for the gaslighter to point out “flaws” in your work? Request that someone else go at these alleged mistakes. Is the gaslighter denying that you have been excluded from critical meetings? If you weren’t included in the email invitations, ask someone who was at the meetings. Is the gaslighter denying that you were ever chastised in front of the team? When you weren’t around, ask someone who witnessed the critique.
Gaslighting is psychological warfare, and it can have a negative impact on your mental health by reducing your self-esteem and confidence. It’s critical to take a break from the gaslighting tale in order to re-energize and keep your thinking sharp.
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