Searching for Recruiters and Headhunters?

Find the most suitable
search firm for your needs


Start your free search now


Start your free search now
Search for Recruiting Firms by State or Sector
What is Gaslighting at Work & How to Identify It?

Gaslighting at work is a pervasive and insidious form of psychological manipulation that can have detrimental effects on individuals and workplace dynamics. The term “gaslighting” originated from the 1938 play “Gas Light” and was later adapted into films, where a character manipulates another into questioning their sanity. In a professional context, gaslighting involves tactics aimed at making a person doubt their perceptions, memory, and even their competence. Understanding this phenomenon is crucial for maintaining a healthy work environment and fostering genuine collaboration among colleagues.

Types of Gaslighting at Work

Here are some types of gaslighting commonly observed in the workplace:

1. Denial of Reality:

Downplaying or denying events that occurred, making the victim question their memory or perception.

Example: “I never said that,” or “That never happened. You must be imagining things.”

2. Withholding Information:

Intentionally keeping important information from someone, causing confusion and doubt.

Example: Keeping a team member in the dark about crucial details and then blaming them for not being informed.

3. Countering:

Contradicting a person’s memories or feelings, making them second-guess themselves.

Example: “You’re too sensitive; that conversation wasn’t hostile at all.”

4. Trivializing:

Making someone’s thoughts or feelings seem unimportant or irrelevant.

Example: Dismissing a colleague’s concerns with phrases like, “You’re making a big deal out of nothing.”

5. Diverting Blame:

Shifting responsibility for a mistake or problem onto the victim.

Example: “You’re the reason the project failed; your incompetence is dragging the whole team down.”

6. Twisting Information:

Manipulating facts to suit the gaslighter’s agenda, causing confusion and self-doubt.

Example: Taking credit for someone else’s work and insisting it was a team effort.

7. Undermining:

Making subtle comments or actions to erode a person’s confidence and self-esteem over time.

Example: Belittling a colleague’s achievements or qualifications during team meetings.

8. Isolation:

Purposefully excluding someone from meetings, discussions, or social activities to make them feel marginalized.

Example: Deliberately leaving a team member out of important email chains or meetings.

9. Projecting:

Accusing others of the gaslighter’s own negative behaviors or feelings.

Example: “You’re always trying to make me look bad,” when in fact, the gaslighter is undermining the victim.

10. Creating Confusion:

Introducing conflicting information or changing the narrative to confuse the victim.

Example: Providing contradictory instructions and later denying the initial guidance, leaving the victim bewildered.

Addressing Gaslighting at Work

Addressing gaslighting at work is crucial for fostering a healthy and respectful workplace environment. Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse where individuals manipulate others into questioning their reality, perception, or sanity. Here are some steps to address gaslighting in the workplace:

Recognize the signs: Familiarize yourself with the signs of gaslighting, such as denial of actions or events, trivializing your feelings, or shifting blame. Being aware of these tactics can help you identify when gaslighting is occurring.

Raise Awareness: Educate employees and management about gaslighting. Awareness is the first step in addressing the issue. Make sure everyone understands what gaslighting is and how it can manifest in a professional setting.

Trust your instincts: If you feel that something is off or that you’re being manipulated, trust your instincts. Your feelings are valid, and acknowledging them is the first step in addressing gaslighting.

Establish Clear Policies: Develop and communicate clear policies against bullying, harassment, and any form of emotional abuse, including gaslighting. Make it known that such behaviors will not be tolerated and can result in disciplinary action.

Encourage Open Communication: Foster a culture of open communication where employees feel comfortable reporting incidents of gaslighting without fear of retaliation. Provide multiple channels for reporting, such as anonymous hotlines or confidential HR channels.

Training and Workshops: Conduct workshops and training sessions on interpersonal communication, empathy, and emotional intelligence. Equip employees with the skills to recognize gaslighting behaviors and respond appropriately.

Promote a Positive Workplace Culture: Emphasize the importance of a positive and inclusive workplace culture. Encourage teamwork, mutual respect, and appreciation for diverse perspectives. A positive environment can act as a deterrent to gaslighting behaviors.

Lead by Example: Leaders and managers should set an example by modeling respectful and transparent communication. When employees see leadership demonstrating healthy communication, they are more likely to follow suit.

Implement a Grievance Procedure: Establish a clear grievance procedure for handling complaints related to gaslighting. Ensure that the process is fair, confidential, and prompt. Investigate complaints thoroughly and take appropriate action based on the findings.

Provide Support Systems: Offer counseling or support services for employees who have experienced gaslighting. Create a safe space where individuals can discuss their concerns and feelings without judgment.

Regular Check-ins: Conduct regular check-ins with employees to gauge their well-being and satisfaction. This can help identify and address potential issues before they escalate.

Document and Monitor: Keep records of reported incidents, investigations, and resolutions. Monitoring trends can help identify systemic issues and allow for proactive measures to prevent gaslighting in the future.

Stay calm and composed: Gaslighters may escalate their tactics when confronted. Stay calm and composed during discussions, focusing on the facts and your experiences. Avoid getting drawn into emotional arguments.

Seek External Assistance: In severe cases or when internal measures are not effective, consider bringing in external experts or consultants to assess the workplace culture and provide guidance on improvement.

Know when to escalate: If the issue persists despite your efforts, and it’s affecting your work environment, consider escalating the matter to higher levels of management, your company’s HR department, or any applicable workplace ombudsman.


Gaslighting at work is a serious issue that can have far-reaching consequences on individuals’ mental health and the overall workplace culture. Recognizing the tactics employed by gaslighters, trusting one’s instincts, and taking proactive steps to address and counteract manipulative behavior are essential in creating a healthy and supportive work environment. By fostering open communication, establishing clear boundaries, and seeking support when needed, individuals can protect themselves from the damaging effects of gaslighting and contribute to a positive workplace culture.

The Online Recruiters Directory is the place to find executive recruiters,
executive search firms, headhunters, staffing firms and other recruiting services.