08 Oct Set for Failure: 3 Signs You’re Being Gaslighted at Work
Being manipulated can increase stress and prove detrimental to your health, but you aren’t powerless to stop it.
When we think of gaslighting (manipulating someone through psychological means that force them to question themselves), we often think of abusive personal relationships. But make no mistake—gaslighting can and does happen in the workplace.
Gaslighting at work isn’t just hazardous to company culture. It can cause unnecessary stress, kill productivity, and even damage your entire sense of self-worth, which will most certainly have a negative impact on your career and personal life.
To be clear, gaslighting isn’t your typical talk of toxic work environments or bully co-workers. This form of abuse is on an entirely different level, and if left unaddressed, it can completely alter your approach to life and work and leave you feeling completely inadequate.
Are you being gaslighted at work? It’s not always easy to identify. Gaslighters have a way of making reasonable-sounding comments or jokes with passive-aggressive undertones. Here are some of the big warning signs to look out for and how to fight back:
1. They Accuse You
Your boss tells you a project was due next week, but now he’s threatening to fire you unless you turn it in today. Or perhaps your boss negotiated with you on something, but when it’s time to pay up, he tries to renegotiate.
Gaslighters are only focused on their goals and will say or do anything to reach them. Making promises and later changing the terms is common, and they’re adamant that their version of events is always correct.
2. They Withhold Information
Have you “accidentally” been left off an important email thread? Do your messages continually get misplaced or forgotten? Gaslighters don’t want to see you succeed, and they’ll do anything to make you look unprofessional or keep you out of the loop.
3. They Impact Others’ Opinions of You
If your boss speaks badly of you in front of others or within hearing distance of others, there’s a strong chance you’re being gaslighted. They want to get a reaction from you that will make you look unprofessional. This way, they’re in the clear because they “can’t control” how you respond. And when they don’t get that reaction, they try to impact the way others see you.
How to Take Back Your Livelihood
Many people don’t recognize when others are gaslighting them, and those who do acknowledge it feel powerless to do anything about it. It’s hard to prove, and they feel that reacting to it will give the gaslighter what they want.
To stop being gaslighted (or avoid it altogether), it’s essential to set clear boundaries early on. Think about what respect looks like, how you want to be treated, and what crossing the line looks like.
It’s usually not prudent to confront the gaslighter directly as they can easily turn the tables on you. Instead, you can rely on internal affirmations regarding your expertise, personality, and abilities and stay one step ahead of anyone who tries to bring you down.
Gaslighting is not your fault. But when it happens, it can be damaging to your psyche, morale, and overall sense of purpose. The sooner you can recognize it, the better chance you have of minimizing its effects and rising above the ambitions of others so you can focus on your own.