Gaslighting at Work: How to Stop it

Sophia Divirgilio Category-01, Small Business HR

You may or may not have already heard about the term “gaslighting”. This form of psychological manipulation can be seen in friendships, relationships and even unfortunately at work. Sometimes without even knowing you may have toxic employees at your workplace, and as a manager this can be difficult to initially recognise.  

Gaslighting at work can be extremely detrimental to your corporate culture, your employees job satisfaction and mental health. It is imperative that as a manager you not only learn how to recognise this behaviour but effectively handle the situation.  

As HR experts we have unfortunately seen this behaviour, it is rare but if it does occur, we take it very seriously. This blog post today will be your crash course on preventing a gaslighting explosion at your workplace.  


According to psychology today “ Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality”. A person who uses the gaslighting tactics would go out of their way to confuse other employees, put them down and even bully them. This is a serious issue and can have extremely destructive effects on your businesses. 

It is also important that as a manager you are self-reflecting on your own actions and checking you aren’t displaying any of these personality traits.  

Examples of Workplace Gaslighting

Below we have listed a few examples a gaslighting personality type would display in the workplace. These encounters could occur vertically (between manager and employee) and horizontally (between employees). 

  1. Point out ways you are unreliable. 
  1. Make fun of your work. 
  1. Telling frequent lies, causing confusion.  
  1. Inability to handle feedback.
  1. Projects to people a false higher image of themselves.  
  1. Always need to one up you.
  1. Sabotage your efforts to succeed.
  1. Consistently communicate that they know more than you.  
  1. Take zero accountability for their actions.
  1. Appear confident but extremely insecure.  

What Gaslighting sounds like at work  

“You’re so sensitive”  

“You cannot do your job, someone else can”  

“You are always sick aren’t you”  

“Just calm down”  

“You are always confused” 

“Do you even know how to do your job” 

“I never said that”  

“You are so dramatic”  


Is Gaslighting a Form of Bullying?

In Australia, bullying is defined as: 

“A worker is bullied at work if: 

  • a person or group of people repeatedly act unreasonably towards them or a group of workers 
  • the behaviour creates a risk to health and safety. 

Unreasonable behaviour includes victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening. Whether a behaviour is unreasonable can depend on whether a reasonable person might see the behaviour as unreasonable in the circumstances”. 

In the definition it does not state specifically anything about gaslighting however the above identified bullying actions are usually what a toxic gas lighter employee would do to management or other employees. Humiliating and intimidating are warning signs and should not be taken lightly.  

Bullying in the workplace is extremely harmful. It can impact all stakeholders, and if not promptly resolved can even end up costing management huge amounts of money in legal fees.  

The Long Term Effects of Gaslighting

To put it simply if a person is consistently gaslighted at their workplace they will be made to think by their colleagues or manager that they have a mental illness. If a person is consistently told they have one it will result in them believing this lie.  

Not only does this behaviour result in detrimental mental health issues like anxiety, depression and low self-esteem, but it can traumatise employees forever.  

The culture in the organisation that this gaslighting behaviour is occurring at will be significantly affected. Employee job satisfaction will drop, corporate culture will diminish and overall, no one will want to work in an organisation that accepts this kind of employee treatment.  

How to Stop and Prevent it  

If you have noticed all above signs of gaslighting its important you immediately recognise for what it is. Trust your gut! You know if you are not being treated how you deserve to be. If you are still questioning yourself or your managers behaviour, then ask a co-worker if they have noticed any of this gaslighting behaviour as well.  

Ensure that you have policies and procedures in place to deal with these kinds of situations.

If you feel like you may have an employee like this in your workplace contact us now! We can help you keep your corporate culture at an all high level whilst effectively and promptly dealing with the issue.