Whether it’s from a boss or supervisor, a co-worker, or even a customer, gaslighting is a harmful manipulation technique that can have long-lasting negative effects on a person’s mind. This harmful practice is normally resorted to by those who desire power over other people, and it’s important to know when you’re being gaslighted so you can put a stop to it.
Here, we’ll discuss how to identify someone who’s gaslighting you at work, and what your next steps should be once you’ve made the identification.
Why Gaslighting Is So Harmful
First and foremost, let’s talk about why gaslighting is so harmful to one’s mental health. The act of gaslighting involves sowing seeds of doubt in the victim’s mind. They usually start out small; perhaps making you question whether or not you actually did something or if you’re doing it right.
Those seeds continue to be fed by further manipulation from the abuser, and can eventually become so profound that you start questioning your own sanity.
Make no mistake; gaslighting is nothing more than emotional manipulation and should not be tolerated. No one deserves to feel insecure or unsafe within the confines of their own mind. If you can’t feel safe in your own mind, where can you feel safe?
Signs of Gaslighting
If you’re new to the concept of gaslighting, you might not be aware of what to look for. Gaslighting comes in many forms, some more severe than others, but there are some general behaviors and comments to look for from suspected abusers.
- The abuser makes you feel less confident in yourself than ever
- When the abuser comes near you, anxiety takes over.
- You second-guess yourself when remembering details or events. The abuser will often tell you you’re recalling the event/detail incorrectly to hide a painful truth or something they’ve done.
- The abuser makes you feel confused and disoriented.
- Nothing you do is ever good enough.
- You don’t trust your own judgment anymore.
- You feel guilty and unhappy all the time, but especially when the abuser is in the room or you’re interacting with them.
- Your conversations with the abuser leave you feeling like something isn’t right, but you’re not sure what it is.
What To Do When You’re Being Gaslighted
Gaslighting is a form of harassment and emotional manipulation, so the first thing you need to do is set firm boundaries. Let your abuser know that their behavior is making you uncomfortable, and document that you’ve let them know. If they come back the next day or even in a few hours and repeat the same behavior, set the boundary again, and document it.
This serves a two-fold purpose. You’re setting a boundary, which is important for mental health and setting limitations on relationships, and you’re documenting that the abuser is consistently violating that boundary in case you need to go to HR.
It’s always good to have documentation to back up your side of things because work disputes often end up as he-said-she-said contests.
Include the date, time, and what words were exchanged between you and your abuser. The more detailed your account is, the more believable it will be. Don’t embellish the facts, either. Tell exactly what happened, how it happened, and when it happened.
Let Someone Know
Before you even go to HR or a supervisor, you can let a co-worker know what’s going on. This will give you an extra set of eyes on the problem and help validate your side of the story. Often, a gaslighter is a narcissistic person, so they’ll deny they ever did anything wrong. It never hurts to have someone else in the know. You might even find that they’ve been a victim of the same behavior, and you can further solidify your case.
Go to a Supervisor/HR
Chances are, a narcissistic person won’t respect those boundaries you’ve put in place, and that’s to be expected. The purpose of the boundary is to show that you’ve asked them to stop, you’ve made it clear that you’re uncomfortable, and that they’re continually violating that boundary.
The next step is to go to your supervisor or HR rep. Be sure to bring all of your documentation and give a clear explanation of what’s been going on and how it’s made you uncomfortable. If you can, bring any witnesses or people who’ve suffered from the same abuse from the gaslighter.
Gaslighting is harmful, whether it’s minor or a reoccurring practice. If you feel that someone at your job is gaslighting you, follow these simple tips to successfully navigate the behavior and put yourself out of harm’s way. Remember that gaslighting can have far worse effects that it seems to have at first, so you’ll want to address the issue as soon as you realize it’s happening.