Warning signs of a gaslighting boss

angry boss shouts at an employee

Everyone has had a run-in with a terrible boss. Some simply can’t handle the leadership aspect of the role, while others pick favorites or hold bigoted views. While none of these are pleasant to deal with, there is one action bosses take that can make any workplace a complete nightmare for every employee. 

It’s called gaslighting, and it involves various manipulation tactics designed to attack your sanity and keep you walking on eggshells. Here are the warning sings of a gaslighting boss and what you can do about it. 

Lies and Coverups

One of the first signs that gaslighting may be taking place is a series of lies. Your boss may tell you to complete a task one way, only to reprimand you for following their orders and swearing they never said that in the first place. This causes a lot of confusion in the victim, making them question which words are true and which aren’t. 

Lashing Out at Questions

Positive workplace cultures encourage employees to ask questions, but a gaslighter will lash out at questions instead. This allows your boss to avoid providing clarity to the situation while making you feel threatened to ask any more questions. 

Sewing Confusion 

Confusion at work is common, especially when taking on a new role or during company adjustments. Bosses are there to help you adjust and answer any questions you might have during this time. When your boss expects you to know everything off the bat, it could be a warning sign of gaslighting. 

Gaslighting tactics take this one step further, with the abuser mocking your questions or confusion. If this is the case, you should begin speaking with legal representation like these employment lawyers in Los Angeles. The goal is to keep you confused both with your duties and their responses. 

Expecting Apologies

This warning sign starts simple. You might apologize for not responding to an email fast enough. Before you know it, you’re apologize for taking a five-minute bathroom break. All of a sudden, you’re even apologizing for your boss’ mistakes as well as other coworkers out of fear from the reaction your boss might give. 

Undermining Compliments and an Inability to Satisfy

A gaslighting boss is tough to please, constantly finding something wrong with your work even when it does meet or exceed company standards. This demoralizing tactic works to tear down your self-confidence and self-esteem. If you do receive a compliment, it comes with criticism. “Finally, you got it right after three tries,” is an excellent example. 

Other Signs

As if all of those warning signs aren’t bad enough, there’s more tricks up the sleeve of a gaslighting boss. They can include:

  • You question the reality of situations
  • Your boss rewrites events
  • The boss gives others credit for your own ideas
  • Your boss continually breaks their promises with no apologies
  • Gossip about you is spread from the boss
  • Concerns are met with responses to work harder
  • Your boss lays on the charm immediately after an episode

Many of these situations can lead to harassment. If that’s the case, you need to speak with a legal professional like workplace harassment attorney Jeremy Pasternak. If going to upper management isn’t an option, then it may be time to leave the company altogether.