Gaslighting can shake our own sense of identity at work and beyond. It is a form of abuse that causes significant stress that can lead to burnout, depression and even job loss. The impact is significant, so it is important to know what to do if you are experiencing gaslighting at work.
Start documenting and evidence gathering
Firstly, by making notes and documenting, it will serve as both a reminder and a reality check when the sense of reality is being undermined by the gaslighter. It will help you reduce self-doubt and confirm that you are not going crazy and imagining the whole thing.
Secondly, if you decide to take things further by requesting HR assistance, union or legal advice, having a clear record will support your case. Ensure you are specific about how gaslighting is impacting you and your ability to work. By taking things further, solutions are likely to be sourced to improve your working environment.
The very nature of gaslighting means it is not something you should try to take on alone. If you do want to address the gaslighter directly, especially if the person is a line-manager, it is sensible to ask a union representative, member of HR or a trusted colleague to be present at the meeting. Without a witness, the gaslighter is likely to sabotage your efforts, leading to more denial and using the conversation to further their efforts in undermining and intimidating you in the workplace.
By allowing another professional body to lead in resolving the issue, it ensures the process is fair and removes the onus being placed on you as the victim. There will be clear policies and procedures in place to investigate complaints about conduct, not least the disciplinary policy if found substantiated.
Take time to recover
The experience will often have long-lasting effects, so do give yourself time to recover. Alongside ensuring you look after basic health needs; it is important to get emotional support from friends or family. If you are struggling, seek counseling support to help you make sense of what has happened to you so you can trust in others, and yourself, again.
Consider options right for you
Irrespective of whether a solution is found or even if you have taken the decision to raise a complaint, it is important to recognise that you have options.
You might ask yourself whether this toxic environment is one you want to remain in, even if gaslighting behaviour stops. It is your choice, no one else can take that power away from you. If you no longer wish to stay in an unhealthy environment, it is not weak by deciding to walk away.
But make sure it is what you want. Don’t allow a gaslighter to force you from a role you would otherwise love.
If you do want to walk away and find a similar role in a different setting or want to find a completely new direction in your career, then maybe I can help you discover the right path and find the courage to live a life you’ll love.