What is Gaslighting at work? Signs of Gaslighting and How to avoid gaslighting? 

What is Gaslighting at work? Signs of Gaslighting and How to avoid gaslighting? 

Are you feeling led back to work? Are you constantly hearing negative accounts of your performance even after putting your heart and soul at work? Are you questioning your perception of reality at work? Are you excluded from meetings or events relevant to or required for your job?

If you answer ‘YES’ to any of these, you are being gaslighted at work!

You might be haunted by questions like ‘Is there a point to work here?’ and ‘Why is he even praising me when if public, he is going to humiliate me?’ Whatever form your gaslighting takes, there is a way out.

Gaslighting at work occurs when a coworker or employer (the gaslighter) manipulates you to the extent that you question your own memory, sanity, or perceptions.

In this blog,

What is Gaslighting?

What is Gaslighting in the Workplace?

The Personality of a Gaslighter

Signs of Gaslighting in the workplace.

  • You’re always challenging your perception.
  • They claim to have “never said that,” but you know they did
  • The gaslighter tells you that you’re making mistakes even when you know you’re not
  • They compliment you in private yet condemn you in front of the team (or vice versa)
  • When you try to bring up concerns, the gaslighter dismisses them
  • You are routinely excluded from critical meetings and decision-making discussions
  • Other people are noticing how the gaslighter treats your meaningless assignments

Examples of Gaslighting at Work

  • When you bring up an issue that is important to you, the gaslighter becomes defensive and disputes your perspective, lashing out.
  • The gaslighter makes a  sexist remark only to condemn it when others do the same.
  • The gaslighter minimizes any mention of race.
  • The gaslighter takes and replaces stuff on your desk without your permission.
  • The gaslighter peppers are in good reinforcement, but only when you’re about to snap.
  • The gaslighter modifies company policies to meet their personal goal.

How to Deal with Gaslighting at work

  • Recognize gaslighting
  • Trust yourself
  • Make an attempt to speak with the suspected gaslighter
  • As much as possible, avoid the gaslighter
  • Maintain documentation
  • Do not meet a gaslighter by yourself
  • Be straightforward
  • Speak with a colleague you can rely on
  • Consider quitting your work.
  • Consider training programs
  • Join the online community

4 Common Gaslighter Phrases and How to Respond.

  • That is not what happened.”
  • “I did it because I wanted to help you.”
  • “This is entirely your responsibility.”
  • “It’s not such a huge deal!”


What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is the psychological manipulation of a person over a prolonged period of time that leads the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perceptions of reality, or memories, and typically results in confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, uncertainty about one’s emotional or mental stability, and dependency on the perpetrator. It’s making someone feel or seem irrational, unstable, and not credible, causing them to think that what they’re seeing or feeling isn’t genuine, that they’re fabricating it, and that nobody else will understand them.

Gas lighting entails a power imbalance between the abuser and the individual being gaslighted. Abusers frequently take advantage of preconceptions or vulnerabilities associated with gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, and/or class. It occurs when someone purposefully distorts reality in order to make you believe that what you’re seeing or feeling isn’t genuine. A loving partner, a family member, an employer,  a doctor, or anybody in a position of authority can perpetrate Gaslighting. People who gaslight others may suffer from mental illnesses. They use emotional abuse to exert dominance over others in order to manipulate friends, family members, and even coworkers.

Gaslighters’ personality qualities cross boundaries into all types of social relationships. Gaslighting in the workplace is just as deadly as it is in a friendship or personal connection. At its worst, gaslighting can cause the victim to experience anxiety, melancholy, and hopelessness as their reality is repeatedly called into question by a devious gaslighter.

What is Gaslighting in the Workplace?

Gaslighting is when a person—typically a coworker or manager—invalidates what you know to be true, and you are forced to doubt the facts and, eventually, yourself and your capacity to execute your job. In other words, they’re manipulating (accidentally or on purpose) facts, words, and behavior to confuse you, minimize your sentiments, and prevent you from succeeding. This a reminder that gaslighting isn’t always aggressive or hostile conduct perpetrated by someone who isn’t doing anything wrong. When it comes to gaslighting in the workplace, there are several minor details to consider.

It can happen in any situation, including the workplace. In fact, according to a recent poll of over 3,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 54, 58% have experienced gaslighting at work. Gaslighting at work can be an abrasive form of self-defense. Handling gaslighting at work can be especially destructive and difficult to prove since, by definition, it will make you doubt that what is occurring to you is true. Because gaslighting at work follows a pattern of repeat violations that accumulate over time, it is difficult to detect until it has gone too far (i.e. you are left feeling irritated, joyless, and complacent about the real task).

The Personality of a Gaslighter.

Some people appear to be more prone to gaslighting than others. In fact, not all gaslighters are aware of their actions. However, the word is most commonly used when someone is purposefully manipulating a friend, family member, or coworker. It’s terrible gaslighting behavior that has grown over time and across many interpersonal connections for many people. Gaslighters have certain qualities in common. The following are the most prevalent characteristics of a gaslighter:

  • Self-esteem or self-worth issues
  • A manipulative personality.
  • Insecurities that are concealed by continuously pointing out the defects of others
  • Controlling to the point where they don’t respond well when not in control
  • Narcissistic characteristics are sometimes referred to as toxic leadership at work.

It can be difficult to identify a gaslighter at times. Some are charming and charismatic, which can lead to individuals being ignorant that they are being gaslighted in the first place. Other gaslighters are more restrained, which hides their manipulating techniques. In any case, they all have the characteristics described above.

Signs of Gaslighting in the workplace.

Some of the subtle signs of gaslighting are:

  • You’re always challenging your perception: This is the most obvious indication of gaslighting. If you find yourself second-guessing your version of what transpired following a meeting with a coworker, you’re most likely being gaslighted.
  • They claim to have “never said that,” but you know they did.: This is a frequent gaslighting tactic: they will deny saying what they clearly uttered. In fact, they’ll say “I never said anything,” with such vehemence that you’ll begin to believe them and doubt yourself.
  • The gaslighter tells you that you’re making mistakes even when you know you’re not: You’re capable. You’re quite 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 the gaslighter’s trick, especially if they’re jealous of your accomplishment.
  • They compliment you in private yet condemn you in front of the team (or vice versa): They appear friendly when you are present yet berate you when you are not. Or they criticize you while no one else is present but laud you when others are present. The idea is to confuse you so that you question what is true.
  • When you try to bring up concerns, the gaslighter dismisses them.
  • When you present a problem to a gaslighter, they will reject it (especially if it is a problem they created). This is simply another way for them to trick you into thinking you’re the problem.
  • You are routinely excluded from critical meetings, and decision-making discussions: The gaslighter will exclude you from key meetings, chats, and initiatives without ever explaining why. When you inquire as to why you were not involved, they will convince you that you are exaggerating or you were wrong and did not need to be part of that conversation. Even if something is critical to your work, they will try to convince you that it is not.
  • Other people are noticing how the gaslighter treats you:  When gaslighting continues for a long enough period of time, your coworkers will most likely notice that you are being treated differently. They may or may not say anything or assist you at this point. It’s up to you to select a reliable coworker who will tell you the truth about what they’re seeing.
  • You’re constantly demoted to smaller, meaningless assignments:  You may be offered busy work and pointless projects that keep you occupied but have no actual influence rather than just being excluded. This could be an attempt to undermine your authority and hinder your productivity so that when performance reviews roll around, you have no results to show because you were never given important tasks to do.

Examples of Gaslighting at Work.

  • When you bring up an issue that is important to you, the gaslighter becomes defensive and disputes your perspective, lashing out. Like when they left you doubting your feelings and emotions after bringing up an awkward incident in a meeting. Perhaps you imagined it? But you’ll never mention it again.
  • The gaslighter makes a  sexist remark only to condemn it when others do the same. You’re left unsure how to proceed and perplexed by their perception of reality.
  • The gaslighter minimizes any mention of race. They say things like, “don’t play the race card,” or “all lives count,” which are both examples of racial gaslighting in action.
  • The gaslighter takes and replaces stuff on your desk without your permission. A seemingly trivial offense, but one that makes you feel as if you’re going insane while looking for a pair of scissors you swear you had.
  • The gaslighter peppers are in good reinforcement, but only when you’re about to snap. They’ve chastised you for everything, but just as you’re about to give up, they’ll throw in a couple of praises. Did you imagine their anger and meanness all along?
  • The gaslighter modifies company policies to meet their personal goals. Only a few vacation days? What should I wear? Is there a sick-day policy? All are susceptible to change depending on your manager’s whims and mood, making it difficult to understand what the rules are and how to avoid breaking them.

How to Deal with Gaslighting at work?

  • Recognize gaslighting: Determining whether you’re being gaslighted might be tough. Sometimes the only thing you have to deal with is a rude or arrogant coworker or manager. You must first identify the gaslighting behavior. Understanding that behavior will enable you to respond to gaslighting in the workplace. Be kind to yourself, and remember that a gaslighter’s goal is to make you doubt your talents. Never be reluctant to solicit feedback from friends, family, and coworkers.
  • Trust yourself:  The goal of gaslighting is to distort your perception of reality. So, if you suspect you’re being gaslighted, take some time to actually sit with what you know to get yourself back on track. To deal with this form of toxic conduct, you must first trust yourself.
  • Make an attempt to speak with the suspected gaslighter. It’s likely that there were some legitimate miscommunications or that your boss is overworked and not purposely gaslighting you. You can try having an open talk about how you feel, showing proof, and sharing examples of times when you’ve felt duped. If the individual is purposefully gaslighting you, don’t expect an admission of guilt—in fact, they’ll become much more adamant.
  • As much as possible, avoid the gaslighter:  Complete avoidance is sometimes impossible, as in the case of a gaslighting boss. Avoid spending time alone with the gaslighter, as any recounting after that will be your word against theirs. Also, avoid projects that require you to collaborate with them, and don’t fall for any of their attempts to create a deeper intimate relationship with you.
  • Maintain documentation: Keep documentation of the times,  dates, and people involved if you believe you are being gaslighted or harassed at work. Make a list of direct quotes. Do not save this information on an employee-owned device or in a cloud account. If you are fired, you must return the gadgets.
  • Do not meet a gaslighter by yourself: Be extremely cautious if a gaslighter says they need to meet with you secretly. Consider having a trusted coworker or another boss testify as a witness. If the gaslighter refuses to let another person inside the room, inquire as to why. Then tell them you don’t feel at ease meeting alone. Make a note of it and consider reporting the behavior.
  • Be straightforward: You can try to discuss the problem directly with the gaslighter (and document what was said after the fact), but be prepared for them to reject everything and appear more rebellious and belligerent.
  • Speak with a colleague you can rely on: Bring up what’s been going on and ask if they’ve been harassed in this way as well. When you contact HR, you will be able to enlist the group as a single front.
  • Request input from someone else: The main point here is to identify someone you can trust who is not on the side of the gaslighter. This may be challenging, especially if your entire company is poisonous.
  • Is the gaslighter always pointing out “flaws” in your work? Request that someone else go at these alleged errors.
  • Is the gaslighter blocking your access to critical meetings? Inquire with someone who attended these sessions if you were included in the email invitations.
  • Is the gaslighter denying ever criticizing you in public? Inquire of someone who observed this critique while you were not present.
  • Take care of your mental wellness: Gaslighting is psychological warfare, and as such, it can have a negative impact on your mental health by reducing your self-esteem and self-confidence. It’s critical to take breaks from the gaslighting narrative in order to recharge your batteries and keep your thinking fresh. This could include doing things like exercising or talking to a therapist or journaling or a support group to help you de-stress and relax. Take some time to assess your work and career goals and whether it’s time to look for new employment or start looking for other options.
  • Consider quitting your work.:  While it’s not fair that you are forced to leave your work because of someone else’s heinous behavior, consider what it’s costing you emotionally. How much chronic stress do you experience as a result of working in this environment? Remember that several gaslighters know how to “fly under the radar”—they do just sufficient to keep you miserable and off-kilter but not enough that your superiors will notice. Life is brief, and this work may be stressing you out to the point of harming your health. Leaving the gaslighting scenario and looking for something different is sometimes the best solution.
  • Consider training programs: Look for ways to improve your abilities and confidence, whether that be through professional development classes, training programs, or simply advancing in your existing position.  This can help to mitigate the harmful effects of gaslighting while also benefiting your career in the long run.
  • Join the online community: Join a workplace support group or online community dedicated to resolving gaslighting and other types of workplace bullying and harassment. This can provide much-needed emotional support and affirmation, as well as vital information from those who have struggled with similar problems.

4 Common Gaslighter Phrases and How to Respond.

Gaslighters employ language that dismisses your feelings and concerns in order to make you feel tiny and ineffective. They might say things like:

  1. That is not what happened.

Gaslighters enjoy manipulating the narrative and denying the truth of a situation. They will cling to their version of events and do everything they can to convince you that you are incorrect or that your memory is incorrect.

How to React: In this scenario, being firm is beneficial. Expressing something straightforward and direct like, ‘I know what I saw, and I’m not confused about what happened’ is the best. Depending on the circumstances, the individual’s motivations, and your relationship with this person, you can even say, ‘It’s acceptable that we see things differently.'”

  1. “I did it because I wanted to help you.”

Based on the context, this could be a highly controlling and manipulative approach aimed to make a person feel wronged and that the speaker’s actions are nice and well-intentioned. This has the potential to influence people’s perceptions of their surroundings.

How to respond: One viable reaction to this type of comment is, ‘I appreciate how much you try to help me. Thank you very much. In this case, showing me you care would look like ________,’ and fill in the blank with whatever you need at the time.

  1. “This is entirely your responsibility.”

Another approach to attempting to control reality is to shift blame. If used frequently enough, the person being gaslighted may begin to feel that a given circumstance is their fault and eventually accept responsibility for the majority of the difficulties in a relationship.

How to React: ‘I hope we can both continue to accept responsibility when we’re at fault, to reduce blaming each other.’  “This neutralizes the situation, reminds you that you are human and make mistakes, and hopefully weakens their defenses.”

  1. “It’s not such a huge deal!”

This phrase, whether intentional or not, negates a person, informing them that whatever is vital to them is, in reality, not important at all. It causes a person to distrust their own feelings.

How to React: The response’s main objective is to express that your emotional reaction is valid. “Your emotions are genuine, and they need to be seen and acknowledged.” Responses to this type of reply can range from “This is really important to me” to “My feelings are valid; I would appreciate it if you could accept my emotions.”


Gaslighting is a psychological strategy that causes someone to question their own reality. It is shockingly frequent – and dangerous. When used intentionally, it is a method of gradually weakening someone’s trust in their own sentiments or point of view.

Working with gaslighting is naturally aggravating. However, by following the advice in this article, you may reclaim control from your workplace gaslighter and keep them from receiving satisfaction from seeing you suffer any longer. You don’t have to feel alone because of gaslighting. Therapists and counselors can provide advice and assistance in dealing with a crisis or potentially hazardous scenario, depending on your specific situation. You can fight to gaslight at work and defend yourself from further abuse with patience, effort, and determination. After you’ve dealt with the gas lighter, you should search for further ways to improve your work environment and employee well-being.

Maintain your professionalism throughout the reporting process, and rely on colleagues and advisors outside the office to reaffirm your worth. The reality is that even if you film and report the poor behavior, you may not be able to stop it. The good news is that there are healthy work settings. If you are being gaslighted at work, look for other possibilities as quickly as feasible. Remaining in this toxic environment, even if you work remotely, may jeopardize both your job and your mental health.






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