Gaslighting: it’s more common than you think, and yes, it’s a terrible thing to have to endure. Worse, there are people out there that don’t even realize they are in this kind of relationship. But many are faced with it every day… at home, at work, in clubs and organizations, and in romantic relationships.
Being a two-year victim of gaslighting, I can tell you – it’s not easy to recognize, and even harder to remove yourself from. You see, gaslighters are particularly good at what they do. They make you, the victim, believe you are in the wrong. Gaslighters use mind games in order to make their victims feel less-than-adequate and begin to doubt themselves and wonder if they are actually the problem. Often times, the victim will even have difficulty distinguishing between the lies they are being fed by the gaslighter and their own reality.
Sounds crazy, right?
Let me give you my personal example.
I took a job at a company where I worked very closely with the CEO. Within this role, I was responsible for not only assisting the CEO with various tasks, but also managing the staff and taking on all HR responsibilities. It seemed like my dream job at the time; a job where I could better the company and make it a place where employees are motivated to come to work each day. I had plans to put policies into place, create an awesome working environment, and advocate for employees through leadership, training and motivation. I knew that I was capable of making a difference.
I was told upon hire that I would have the opportunity to do all this, but for anything that I proposed to the CEO regarding employee benefits or making the company a better place to work, I received negative (and condescending) feedback. For instance, if I proposed working from home once a week as an added benefit after an employee had been with the company for a year, my boss would say things like “Well, you only want that for yourself. No one else will see value in that. Why don’t you take your own desires out of it and do what’s best for the company?” Or, “You need to take your feelings out of it stop trying to be everyone’s friend. Real managers aren’t interested in making their employees happier.”
Now, you may think that I just had a jerk for a boss. But here’s the kicker: most of my suggestions actually came into fruition down the road; however, my boss would take credit for every one of them and actually convince me that he was the one that came up with the idea and put it to action. If at any point I called him out on the fact that he had disagreed and told me I could not move forward with a proposal, he would become aggressive and deny it and claim I was making things up. What’s worse, for a while, I actually believed him. I was manipulated into thinking that I was stupid, useless, and only thinking about myself.
Being in this sort of relationship is obviously unhealthy at work; however, most have the freedom to escape (as I did eventually). In romantic relationships; however, it is much harder to get out of this toxic situation. So, what do you do?
First, you need to recognize the traits of a gaslighter (narcissist). As outlined in this article, the following are the most common traits:
1. You are constantly reminded of your flaws
2. You often feel insecure and uncertain
3. You feel like you’re constantly walking on egg shells
4. The gaslighter rarely admits flaws and is highly aggressive when criticized
5. You make self-disparaging remarks
6. Despite poor treatment, you look to the gaslighter for acceptance, approval, and validation
7. You hide and excuse the gaslighter’s coercion
8. You feel stuck and/or alone
Once you identify that you are in this extremely unhealthy relationship, it’s time to make a plan to escape. It won’t be easy. For the majority of gaslighter victims, you’re already convinced that there is no problem or that you are the problem. Even when your gut tells you that you’re being manipulated, you’ll likely shrug it off and decide to work harder to impress your significant other and work on all the “short comings” you’re reminded of so frequently.
BUT, you deserve better! Trust your instincts (and what your friends and family are likely telling you) and never let anyone diminish the value you KNOW you have. Surround yourself with people you trust who will support you and remind you that you are not crazy. Most of all – never let anyone convince you that you are anything less than the wonderful person you are.
The original version of this article can be found at https://trulybetterbusiness.com/2017/06/06/what-its-like-working-for-a-gaslighter-boss/
Cynthia Jenkins, a devoted wife, mom, and dedicated business professional with a caring heart and a dream to help others cultivate rewarding relationships at home and at work.
Cynthia’s educational background includes a BBA in General Management from Clayton State University and an MBA from Valdosta State University. Cynthia also strives to continuously train and grow through professional training and certifications.
Her passion for spreading kindness and motivation and bettering business relationships lead Cynthia to create Truly Better Business at www.trulybetterbusiness.com, where you will find blogs, articles, posts, and other inspirational pieces about better business practices, how to get ahead in your career, what to watch out for, and how to be a better business professional.