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Gaslighting is a word that has been around everywhere, especially in the last few years. In psychology, it is also called projective identification. Let’s start with an example — have you watched or heard about the 1944 film ‘Gaslight’? Well, in this film, the husband lies to his wife at all times, and criticises and convinces his wife to believe that she’s paranoid, and the problem lies in her. That way, the victim (here, the wife) starts to doubt herself.
Gaslighting that exists in the real world is a little different from what is portrayed on screen. It is a communication technique that refers to a very specific pattern of behavior, where one human manipulates another person to the extent that he or she begins to doubt their sanctity. When people use lies, false promises, personal attacks, it can take the form of bullying and emotional abuse, as well as harassment.
So, what does gaslighting at the workplace look like? It relates to feeling sabotaged, being harassed by your employer, co-worker, manager, or anyone who is in a position of power and authority, and is trying to gain control over you.
1. You may find yourself in a situation, where your employees, co-workers, and maybe your boss lie to you, even about the smallest of things, so that you are proved wrong in front of everyone.
2. You know you’ve submitted your work to your boss, but despite that, if he tells you that he hasn’t received it or threatens to fire you, then that’s gaslighting for sure.
3. If you’ve proved your capabilities, and yet find yourself trying to show that you are worthy, then it’s a sign you must pay attention to.
4. You may feel that the company is frequently changing its policies for their advantage, including limited holiday days, sickness-related holiday policies, dress code, or working hours. Such things can directly affect you. Therefore, it becomes difficult to understand the rules and laws of the company.
5. Someone who gaslights makes racist and sexist comments to criticize and convince you that you are crazy, so even if you complain about this, it will not yield any results. They try to convince you that you can’t be trusted, making you lose your mind.
6. You may have found your co-workers spreading lies that your boss and other office staff speak nasty things about you. Spreading such rumors is only to prove lower your confidence, and that’s another form of gaslighting.
7. You may notice that your things around your desk are misplaced or have disappeared, and you might notice unusual logins in your social media accounts. Stay alert and take requisite action.
8. A gaslighter can also be a person who pretends to be your friend and well-wisher in front of everyone, but tries to harm you behind your back.
9. You feel lonely and depressed at your workplace, because a gaslighter makes you think you are wrong and your opinion doesn’t matter to anyone. As a result, you start feeling worthless.
10. When you experience these situations, you start questioning your self-worth and believe you are not capable of doing anything. You feel the need to apologize all the time for what you do, or what you are.
If this is happening to you too, then you may be a victim of gaslighting!