Are You Suffering From Ambient Gaslighting at Work?

By Aisling O’Toole

Just over half of Australian employers are encouraging workers to return to the office full time, and the reduction in working from home opportunities comes with an increase in dealing with office politics.

And when habits that are easy to ignore over Zoom are combined with a less than ideal workplace culture, behaviours can easily go from irritating to red flag status when you’re dealing with it all day, every day.

This includes ambient gaslighting, which is defined as the subtle undercurrents of mistreatment or disrespect that we experience in small doses and may not realise are a form of gaslighting is not as easy to recognise but just as harmful.

The term gaslighting comes from a 1940s film of the same name in which a husband uses an array of psychological tricks to convince his wife she’s going insane.

Gaslighting in the workplace has become more recognisable, with 58% of workers saying they’ve experienced gaslighting at work.

Examples of ambient gaslighting include being told to stop taking things personally if you question the status quo, being spoken over in meetings and when your work is handed over to somebody else to finish off.

If you can’t put your finger on why you feel uneasy and are lacking confidence at work, it may be that you’re suffering from ambient gaslighting.

So, how can you address ambient gaslighting and attempt to stop it from happening?

Confide In Someone

Speaking to a colleague about your experiences can help as you navigate exactly what is happening. Finding a confidant allows you to sense-check the situation. Ambient gaslighting is a subtle play and it may take more than one witness to verify it. 

Keep Records

Keeping meticulous records of events will be invaluable if you decide to escalate the situation to HR, but in the short term, write down minutes from calls and meetings to stop you doubting yourself. That way, you’ll have a clear record if your gaslighter changes the narrative of the meeting to a new or imagined version of events.

Set Boundaries

When experiences of ambient gaslighting occur, speak up for yourself, where you can. Set clear boundaries around what you will and won’t accept. Your work being handed over to somebody else without just cause, for example, or being interrupted in a meeting – having a clear and concise sentence prepared for such occasions will ensure you don’t become emotional.

Distance Yourself

Is it possible to distance yourself from the gaslighter or avoid one-on-one interactions? The less you have to deal with or work with them the better. Address the issue with a manager or supervisor and see if you can be reassigned to a different team or rostered at different times to avoid conflict.

Find a New Role

If you’ve done all you can to stop the gaslighting from occurring and have spoken to senior management but to no avail, then it might be time to consider leaving your job and finding a new role with a company that will appreciate you and your skill set. If that is the case, the Professional Beauty Job Board is the perfect place to start your search.

Explore the Professional Beauty job board to find your dream role.

This article was produced in partnership with Jobbio.

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