You’re in a meeting one day when your boss makes a joke about your religious preferences. This isn’t the first time. You’ve often heard him and others making condescending remarks in other meetings or do things that marginalize you. You realize you’ve had enough and decide to bring it up to him after the meeting is over.
You’re not sure what to expect. Perhaps, you hope he apologizes, thinking he didn’t quite realize his actions had a profound affect and that he was crossing the line. Perhaps you think he will realize his actions but indicate his behavior will stop. But that doesn’t happen.
Instead, your boss acts like you are overreacting and that you simply read far into what occurred. Acting as if you’re the one who has the problem and a lack of grasp on reality is known as gaslighting. Sadly, it occurs in the workplace often.
People who may be aware of gaslighting may associate it with personal relationships. A spouse who is physically or verbally abusive may try to act like the victim is crazy and overreacting. They may also try to make the victim think they are in the wrong for even mentioning the issue.
However, gaslighting can and does occur in work environments. Rather than admitting that what was said was wrong or inappropriate, some bosses, supervisors or coworkers will simply make you feel as if it’s your fault and try to get you to question the matter in the hope you’ll just ignore it.
But such behavior should never go ignored. You as an employee have rights. If you feel uncomfortable with a person’s behavior toward you, you have options. Contacting your HR department or even a legal representative can help explain your rights and how to stop the behavior.