How to Intervene When a Manager Is Gaslighting Their Employees - Deepstash
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Gaslighting at work

Gaslighting at work

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse where an individual tries to gain power and control over you

They will lie to you and intentionally set you up to fail. They will say and do things and later deny they ever happened. They will undermine you, manipulate you, and convince you that you are the problem.

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Believe employees when they share what’s happening

The point of gaslighting is to instill self-doubt, so when an employee has the courage to come forward to share their experiences, leaders must start by actively listening and believing them. The employee may be coming to you because they feel safe with you. Their manager might be skilled at managing up, presenting themselves as an inclusive leader while verbally abusing employees. Or they may be coming to you because they feel they’ve exhausted all other options.

Do not minimize, deny, or invalidate what they tell you. Ask them how you can support them moving forward.

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Be on the lookout for signs of gaslighting

Here are some potential warning signs

  • A manager who is gaslighting may exclude their employees from meetings. 
  • They may deny them opportunities to present their own work. 
  • They may exclude them from networking opportunities, work events, and leadership and development programs. 
  • They may gossip or joke about them. 
  • Finally, they may create a negative narrative of their performance, seeding it with their peers and senior leaders in private and public forums.

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Intervene in the moments that matter

  • If you see that a manager has excluded one of their employees from a meeting, make sure to invite them and be clear that you extended the invitation. 
  • If a manager is creating a negative narrative of an employee’s performance in talent planning sessions, speak up in the moment and ask them for evidence-based examples.
  • Enlist the help of others who have examples of their strong performance. 
  • Document what you’re observing on behalf of the employee who is the target of gaslighting.

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