Don’t ask Jumping Jack Flash because it is far from a gas, gas, gas if you are experiencing gaslighting at work.
It is an element of toxicity in the workplace that is sneaky and manipulative by those set on undermining their way to make you doubt your skill, yourself, and your right to be in the workplace. Destructive by default, it can lead to significant mental distress, physical stress-induced illness and even job loss.
Put simply, it is a form of emotional abuse. It involves an individual or group who make someone question their memory, judgement, and even their sanity through manipulation, denial, misdirection, contradiction and lying. It is a toxic power-play designed to make the victim doubt their worth at work, but its reach goes far beyond.
In the attempt to gain power over someone for their own gain, gas-lighters are skilled in sabotage and harassment. They will use techniques such as saying one thing in person then denying it over email, constant criticism, dismissing or diminishing your work, taking credit for work you do, constantly changing expectations, making promising and then denying them, not communicating essential information, making hints or outright suggestions that others are saying things about you, saying they are working on something but doing the complete opposite, advising and encouraging courses of actions that they know will backfire if you take the action, etc, etc.
On a day-to-day basis, it will make a victim feel like they are getting everything wrong, make them feel they are incompetent and like they are the ones who do not belong or deserve to be in post. Victims may find their efforts sabotaged and their contributions to work misrepresented.
In short, gaslighting is a type of harassment t work which manifests itself as a form on on-going emotional and psychological manipulation to cause an individual to doubt their judgment and self-worth.
|The common signs:
|Key information is not being communicated and you feel constantly “out the loop”
|You notice that “issues” happen when you take on board advice you have been given.
|You never get credit for your work… unless there’s an issue, in which case it’s all your fault.
|You are made to feel you are not doing things correctly, even if doing as you’ve been told.
|You feel like you can’t do anything right.
|You are being made to feel guilty for not doing enough / getting it right.
|You find yourself trying to “please” the perpetrator(s) and “gain approval”.
|Your views are not taken into account / ideas you offer are ignored.
|Boundaries are frequently broken.
|Undermining is commonplace.
|You’ll get no positive feedback at all, then a tiny bit right when you’re at breaking point.
|They will create a narrative about you that isn’t fair, e.g., that you don’t work hard.
|They’ll feed you narratives such as “you are difficult to work with, others don’t like you”, etc.
|You find yourself doubting your expertise, skills and competencies.
|You become isolated and withdrawn, yet always feel “jumpy” and “on edge”.
|They exploit growing power and make frequent microagressions.
|They lie. They will say that something happened / didn’t happen the way you thought.
|They’ll make out that you’ve remembered something wrong or forgotten.
|You’ll question if you are losing your mind, memory, or if there’s something wrong with you.
|Your confidence drops through the floor at work and beyond.
|If you raise concerns, they are dismissed, and your version of events denied.
|You experience physical and mental symptoms of burnout.
|They guise subjecting you to more pressure (target-setting, support plans) as “help”
|You are a shell of your former self.
In short, victims will feel awful. Confidence and sense of self are destroyed. The likely outcome of being subjected to gaslighting, which is a form of abuse, is mental exhaustion caused by excessive and on-going stress at work. The impact causes the employee to feel unable to cope with the constant demands within the toxic workplace culture, which perpetuates a cycle of feeling overwhelmed and ineffective at work.