Whilst we constantly touch upon the core, shell and the intermediaries that make up the DNA of any workplace, be it for better or worse, it’s the innocuous energies within the core that are often a misplaced priority for the talent connoisseurs.

That inner energy, rumblings or silent whispers, are the crux of today’s discourse and a critical one at that. Talent strategists and keynote speakers bring out broad strokes of organisational synergies and energies that whet the appetite a bit, but leave the disadvantaged quite dry in its representation.

Have you ever wondered how a superstar in previous organisations sometimes becomes a laggard and eventually a failure in a new company? Nothing has changed really… academics, experiences, credentials, persona… yet s/he is a failure! It boils down to one word — culture, one that derails gradually but surely. It is like a slow salami slicing, wherein one does not actually notice the blips but by the time they figure it out, quite an irreversible distance has been travelled on perceptions that are often hard to shake off.

Culture is further shaped by the people who matter and ironically for whom people don’t matter, for their own vested agendas. Interesting, isn’t it?

We write dispassionately about moonlighting, restricting the talents to a financial contract, but how about the social and emotional contract that is at the core of all sustainable organisations? Let’s spare the moon for the earth and for a form that is fluid and agile for the wrong reasons… gaslighting!

Gaslighting, as a term, came into prominence in work cultures recently as a lexicon, but it has always been around like an eternal parasite. It has only just been anointed now! It is the mother of all #MeToo movements globally and has destroyed careers and led to more movements like quiet quitting, career cushioning and finally, Great Resignation for the bold and furious!

As we uncover the gaslighting phenomenon more, it’s good to remind the readers that it refers to psychological manipulation of negatively altering someone’s view about themselves in the most distorted manner possible. It kills your spirit, confidence and the battering comes in so many shapes and forms that you actually start believing the systematic nuisance value being hurled at you, as being true! It’s a kind of workplace harassment that has neither parallel nor precedent on the ability to dismember someone’s ability to shine to a debilitating level. It could come from all quarters of influence and masked candour that serves their purpose, not the victims.

As per MHR Twitter poll, it is reported that 58 per cent of all employees suffer from gaslighting across organisations and suffer silently. One should be aware and well-informed on this nuisance to act on time and within your rights.

Gaslighting behaviours, if not tackled well on time — be it through confrontation, naming and shaming, highlighting it at appropriate forums — tends to become a toxic affair, wherein the famous Eagle’s song Hotel California rings true, you can check in but you can never leave…! Or should I say the scars don’t leave for a long time, even after you move away.

Generally, there is a binary outcome, one that makes the vulnerable victim go with the flow miserably till they are sacked or slowly gives rise to behaviours like quiet quitting or career cushioning for the more adventurous. The third outcome is also legible, of quitting and running away, like the house is on fire, to another reality in life. Career cushioning is a byproduct of quiet quitting in the sense that one looks at Plan B, while going through gaslighting scenarios and makes the move, when appropriate.

One should never forget that one’s biggest asset is confidence and that is an edge that you cannot afford to lose. There is a distinction between feedback and feet-back, a difference between narrative and prerogative, a digger of gold versus digger of dirt, and in that comes the feelers of caution. The future seems sensitised though as such diabolical leaders are being highlighted within and outside by righteous talents and culture is being sanitised, for a better tomorrow.

Time for a smoke? Is a natural occurrence at workplaces, already brimming with smoke and mirrors of its own. As an analogy, passive smoking kills more than active smoking, it’s not the vape either, it’s the vicious gape of the well-refined ape — we call a human — in being indifferent and inhuman, which is alarming!

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