A scheming senior manager seeks to undermine a colleague by ringing that person at home the night before an important meeting to say the chair has requested the start time of the meeting be put back an hour. In fact the request was for the meeting to be brought forward an hour. The individual arrives just as the meeting is finishing. They apologise to the chair, who is clearly annoyed, they say their colleague rang to say the meeting had been put back. At which point the manipulative manager says. “That’s not right I clearly told you the chair had asked for the meeting time to be brought forward.” This is not the first incident. Reports have been lost(hidden). Conversations denied. Emails unread/unanswered ( when in truth they were never sent). Concern expressed about,”forgetfulness” . Suggestions made that the individual may have taken on too much, may be their work load needs to be reduced. And of course our ambitious schemer is willing assume the extra responsibility to help out.
This is Gaslighting. A psychological tactic used in the work place to gain power by making a rival doubt their own memory, instincts and ultimately sanity. This term comes from the 1938 stage play Gas Light, in which a husband attempts to drive his wife crazy by dimming the lights (which were powered by gas) in their home. When his wife points it out, he denies that the light changed. Gaslighting is an extremely effective form of emotional abuse that causes a victim to question their own feelings, instincts and sanity.
Blair Mcpherson former director,author and blogger wwwblairmcpherson.co.uk