The Gaslight Effect

by | May 30, 2023 | Human Resources

In this age of misinformation – of ‘fake news’, conspiracy theories, Twitter trolls, and deep fakes – gaslighting has emerged as a word for our time.

Gaslighting is an insidious form of manipulation and psychological control. It can be incredibly harmful since it can contribute to depression, anxiety, fear, self-doubt, and feelings of helplessness which could ultimately lead to the decrease of an employee’s commitment to your business.

Whether the “gaslighter” is a toxic manager, a scheming colleague, a discriminatory workgroup, a dissatisfied client or a business rival, its negative effects are the same.

Keep an eye out for these signs and examples:

Example #1: Lying about what happened

Employees who took/bought cold drinks on the business account without the permission from the Team Leader.  When asked, the employees will lie by saying the Team Leader gave permission, leaving the Team Leader in a difficult situation as well as business owner to question their honesty and abilities.

Example #2: Getting Defensive

When responding to a customer complaint, you ask the designated employee
“what happened?” they will immediately get defensive and shift the blame on to the customer/colleague or come up with an excuse to justify their bad behavior.

Example #3: Saying One Thing and Doing Another

Your gaslighter might advocate for lunch breaks that are strictly 30 minutes long, but then you catch them taking a 45-minute break the very next day. If you try to confront them over this behavior, the gaslighter will always have an excuse for why they are the exception.

Example #4: Hearing negative gossip

The gaslighter can stay in control and make the co-worker feel like the bad guy by turning their fellow team members against them.

EVEN WORSE – be careful who you trust as the employer. An employee/client/customer or rival can say one thing to you but as soon as they leave your office, they will twist your words or lie to manipulate the situation.

Or they might praise you in public but criticize you in private, making it harder for other people to believe you when you try to share what’s happening.

Bring it to HR or Management

Your manager (as long as your manager isn’t the gaslighter) and HR will best know how to handle a gaslighter. Bring the evidence you’ve gathered and let them serve as the third party between you and your gaslighter to resolve the issue. Grievance or Disciplinary actions might be a result of gaslighting issues between your employees.

Book an appointment with our consultants to work on a strategy that will eliminate these types of behavior in your Business.

Arina Fyfer
AF Consulting
082 745 6779