The sad reality is that many of us will face challenging situations surrounding the effects of gaslighting and manipulative behaviors in the workplace. It can be confusing, disorienting, and harmful, especially when it's done by someone in a position of power. In this blog post, we'll explore what gaslighting and manipulative behaviors are, why abusers do it, and how it can affect others in the workplace.
What is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse in which the abuser manipulates the victim(s) into doubting their own perceptions and reality. The abuser may lie, deny, or distort the truth to make the victim feel confused, insecure, and powerless. They may also use tactics such as projection, blame-shifting, and deflection to avoid taking responsibility for their actions and make the victim feel guilty or ashamed. Over time, others surrounding the abuser begin to doubt their own perception of reality as they make continuous attempts to determine the truth, question their own actions, and become increasingly confused and disoriented.
Gaslighting can be especially harmful in the workplace, where the victim may depend on the abuser for their job, livelihood, and career advancement. When it occurs in the workplace there are often multiple victims as the abuse impacts the entire team surrounding the abuser. The abuser may use their position of power to control and manipulate the team, making it difficult for others to speak up, seek help, and be successful and productive in the workplace.
What are Manipulative Behaviors?
Manipulative behaviors are a set of tactics that abusers use to control, exploit, and manipulate others for their own benefit. These behaviors can include lying, cheating, stealing, gossiping, bullying, and other forms of unethical and harmful conduct.
In the workplace, manipulative behaviors can be disguised as competitiveness, ambition, and leadership, making it hard for others to recognize or challenge them. The abuser may use their charm, charisma, or influence to win over colleagues, gain favors, or advance their career, while disregarding the needs, feelings, and rights of others. All of this contributes to the confusion that others around them feel as the charm can be distracting from the continuous toxic chaos that surrounds them. It can leave others wondering if they are overreacting and questioning everything. Yet time and clarity reveal one common denominator – the abuser.
Why Do Abusers Gaslight and Manipulate Others?
Gaslighting and manipulation are forms of psychological abuse that can have devastating effects on the victim's mental health. While the reasons behind why abusers engage in these behaviors are complex and multifaceted, there are some common underlying factors that may contribute to their behavior.
Here are some possible reasons why abusers may gaslight and manipulate others:
1. Control and Power
Abusers may use gaslighting and manipulation as a way to exert control and power over their victims. By making the victim doubt their own perception of reality and manipulating their emotions, the abuser is able to maintain a position of power and control in the relationship.
2. Insecurity and Low Self-Esteem
Abusers may have deep-seated feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem that they try to compensate for by controlling and manipulating others. By putting others down and making them feel helpless, the abuser may feel a temporary sense of power and validation. Yet it is never enough and behaviors will continue in a never ending cycle of chaos.
3. Learned Behavior
Abusers may have grown up in environments where gaslighting and manipulation were normalized or even encouraged. They may have learned these behaviors as a way to cope with their own feelings of powerlessness and lack of control. Sometimes these individuals have grown up learning these behaviors as a way to get their needs met in unhealthy families.
4. Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Abusers with narcissistic personality disorder or narcissistic personality traits, may use gaslighting and manipulation as a way to maintain their inflated sense of self-importance and superiority. They may see others as mere extensions of themselves and feel entitled to control and manipulate them.
5. Mental Health Concerns
Abusers may also have underlying mental health issues that contribute to their behavior, such as borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality traits, substance use, or trauma. Significant mental health issues can severely impact an individual’s awareness and ability to see reality clearly.
It's important to note that while these factors may contribute to why abusers engage in gaslighting and manipulation, they do not excuse or justify their behavior. It is never acceptable to engage in abusive behavior, and victims of abuse deserve support and validation for their experiences.
Gaslighting and Manipulative Behaviors in the Workplace: How to Recognize Harmful Behaviors
Recognizing gaslighting and manipulation in the workplace can be challenging, especially if the abuser is someone in a position of power or authority. However, there are some signs to watch out for:
1. The abuser denies or distorts the truth, even when presented with evidence to the contrary.
2. The abuser belittles, trivializes, or dismisses your feelings and experiences.
3. The abuser uses charm and flattery to win your trust and then uses that trust to their advantage.
4. The abuser tries to make you doubt your own perception of reality.
5. The abuser uses guilt-tripping, shaming, or lying to control and exploit you.
Gaslighting and manipulative behaviors in the workplace can have a profound impact on mental health. When someone is being gaslit, they are made to question their own perception of reality, often leading to anxiety, depression, confusion, and a sense of helplessness. Manipulation can be equally damaging, with the manipulator using tactics such as guilt-tripping, shaming, and lying to control and exploit others. It's important to recognize these behaviors and take steps to protect yourself from their harmful effects.
How to Protect Yourself from Gaslighting and Manipulation in the Workplace
Protecting yourself from gaslighting and manipulation in the workplace is complex and requires a multi-faceted approach. Here are some strategies to consider:
1. Trust your instincts. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't.
2. Document the behavior. Keep a record of any instances of gaslighting or manipulation, including dates, times, and specific examples of the behavior.
3. Set boundaries. Be clear and assertive about what behavior is unacceptable, and communicate your boundaries to the abuser.
4. Seek support. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional about what you're experiencing.
5. Consider reporting the behavior. If the behavior is severe or persistent, it may be necessary to report it to a supervisor or HR representative. If the abuser maintains a professional license, and the underlying mental health of the abuser is potentially harmful, it may even be appropriate to report to a state licensing board.
It's important to remember that gaslighting and manipulation in the workplace are not your fault, and you have the right to protect yourself from these harmful behaviors. They can have a significant impact on the mental health and well-being of a team. It is important to recognize the signs and take steps to protect yourself from these harmful behaviors. Remember that no one deserves to be treated with disrespect or made to feel confused and helpless. By standing up for yourself and taking action, you can protect your mental health and create a safer, more supportive workplace for everyone. If we can offer support, our team would love to offer a safe space for you. Please reach out to get connected today.