Is your boss gaslighting you? Know the signs.

Chances are that if you have any form of social media, you've probably heard the term "gaslighting" thrown around. People have begun to use this term to define various dynamics with their partners, family members, friends, colleagues, bosses, government leaders, etc.

So, what does being gaslit mean, and how can you know it's happening to you, specifically at work?

Gaslighting is often defined as a manipulation tactic where someone repeatedly questions our reality, causing us to questioning our reality, memories or perception.

In more practical terms, here are some common signs of gaslighting at work:

Examples of gaslighting:

Your boss blatantly lies about past events, changing facts in a way that serves them. They are so confident in their lies that it's shocking and, ultimately, confusing. Example: "last week you came in late," "I know you were holding the receipt" or "you said you would have this submitted by today's meeting, why isn't it done?"

Your boss denies things they have said and done (even if there is proof). Examples: "I never approved your vacation time, I need you to come in on Monday."

Your boss projects their struggles and issues onto you. They make "we statements" that don't apply to you, such as: "I know we both struggle with time management, but I need you to be more punctual."

Your boss pits your colleagues against you and creates an environment that is competitive or unpleasant. They may start negative rumors about you or your performance, they may exclude you from meetings that are relevant for your work, they might make others feel like you are the reason why they didn't get something they wanted or will have to do something they don't want to do. Your boss may even discuss what people are saying "behind your back" as a way to create distance between you and your colleagues under the guise of "having your back."

Your boss never takes responsibility and self-victimize if ever criticized or called out. Your boss blames you for their failures.

Your boss gives you contradictory feedback, and you struggle to understand what they want or to trust your own ability to do the work.

Signs that you're being gaslit:

  • You are often confused.

  • You are struggling to trust your memories or feelings.

  • You find yourself constantly apologizing.

  • You feel like you can’t do anything right.

  • You are often nervous, worried or anxious.

  • You don’t feel confident.

  • You struggle to trust yourself.

  • You constantly blame yourself when something goes wrong (even if it’s not your fault).

What can you do if you suspect you are being gaslit?

Here are several things that might be able to help:

Collect proof. As tedious and intense as it may sound, sometimes we have to write things down, record or take pictures to validate our reality or memories.

Get support. Feeling gaslit can feel disorienting and isolating. It's essential to find people you trust that can help you validate your experiences or remind you of facts as you shared them previously.

Set clear boundaries. You can allow yourself to have a different reality than the one being presented to you. You are entitled to stand up for yourself by setting boundaries. Like this:

  • “It doesn’t seem like we remember things the same way. Let’s move on.”

  • "I need your feedback to be constructive and respectful."

  • “I know what I said. I can forward you the email.”

  • “I don’t believe my colleague lied to me. I think it's important for all of us to discuss this issue together and pinpoint the breakdown in communication."

Get professional help. Gaslighting is a difficult thing to navigate. An outside and trained perspective can allow you to explore your reality, set boundaries and rebuild a sense of self-trust and worth.

If you are being gaslit, keep in mind...

Sometimes we forget things; sometimes we are wrong; sometimes other people are talking behind our back, and someone is trying to help. To distinguish gaslighting from other dynamics, practice self-awareness and trust your observations. And if you can't, get as much support and insight from people you trust. It's detrimental to be gaslit, but it's also unfair to label someone as a gaslighter because we don’t like their perspective or because it differs from our own.

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Sara Kuburic is a therapist who specializes in identity, relationships and moral trauma. Every week she shares her advice with our readers. Find her on Instagram @millennial.therapist. She can be reached at

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Gaslighting: Are you being gaslit by your boss? Know the signs.