4 Ways to Deal With Being Gaslighted at Work

Gaslighting in the workplace can manifest in a variety of ways, but there are steps you can take to end the abuse.

In general, everyone is feeling vulnerable because of the pandemic. With so much uncertainty in the world, it’s understandable that you may feel insecure about losing your job. If someone is gaslighting you at work to boot, bringing up more insecurity and feelings of incompetence, it is further exacerbating the situation. It’s important to understand that your feelings are valid as we navigate through challenging times.

Just so we are clear, gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse in which the victim is manipulated with false information over an extended period of time. The gaslighter eventually makes the victim doubt their own memory, destroying their perception of reality and confidence. Left unchecked, the victim becomes intimidated by and dependent on their abuser.

If you’re being gaslighted at work, here’s what to do:

1. Trust your gut

We often underestimate our intuition when we feel that something isn’t right. But our gut is actually a powerful tool that protects us from danger. If a co-worker makes you feel insecure or incompetent, don’t excuse their behaviour by thinking you’re being too sensitive. Listen to your inner voice because it may be warning you of an emotionally dangerous situation. (Plus, learn how to create a better work-life balance while you work from home.)

2. Document everything

If you suspect that someone is gaslighting you, it’s important to keep a log of concrete evidence. People who gaslight are masters of manipulation. Be prepared with hard proof, such as emails and texts, make notes of conversations and document how you felt during those interactions.

3. Remember your worth

Keep in mind that you’re a valued member of your team. Gaslighters are experts at making you doubt your own self-worth and capabilities. It’s important to remember that you’re not the issue; they are. Learn to set boundaries and be vocal about treatment that makes you uncomfortable.

4. Report it

Struggling in silence isn’t the answer. Report the situation to your superior or human resources, and check your company’s policy regarding harassment and bullying. Present them with your evidence, and be confident that advocating for yourself is the key to protecting your mental health and ensuring a safe and productive work environment. (Here are some other ways to boost your mental health during Covid-19.)

It’s important to remember that a gaslighter’s perceived power is built on an unstable foundation of their own low self-esteem and insecurity. If you feel that you’re being gaslighted in the workplace, advocate for yourself and your mental well-being and take back your power.

Signs you’re being gaslighted at work

  • Your co-worker purposely leaves you out of an email chain or important meeting and makes you feel irresponsible and disorganized for not being in the loop.
  • You’ve asked for an extension on a project and it was granted to you verbally by your boss. Upon handing in your work, your boss expresses how upset they are with you and claims that you never asked for an extension.
  • You told your boss that you’re feeling overwhelmed by a personal issue. They seem to empathize with you and suggest you take a few days off, which you reluctantly do. Unfortunately, you return to consequences for your absence.

Lisa Brookman is a clinical psychotherapist, cofounder and codirector of the West Island Therapy and Wellness Centre in Montreal and one half of Wise Women Canada.

Next, find out the easiest way to boost your well-being this summer.