Business partnerships often require trust, communication and mutual respect to thrive. However, some relationships can turn toxic, with one partner employing manipulative tactics such as gaslighting. Originating from a 1938 play called “Gas Light,” gaslighting refers to the act of manipulating someone into questioning their own perception of reality or decision-making abilities.
Recognizing this type of manipulation can be challenging, especially in a business context, as it can be subtly woven into day-to-day interactions. These tips may help you identify if a business partner is trying to gaslight you and what you can do about it.
Recognize signs of manipulation
Identifying the signs of gaslighting is the first step. These may include denial of past events, projecting blame, trivializing feelings or concerns and consistently undermining ideas or decisions. If a business partner exhibits these behaviors, they may be employing manipulative tactics in an attempt to make you question your abilities to run the business or make smart decisions.
Maintain records of interactions
Keeping detailed records of interactions can serve as a reference when doubt creeps in. Document conversations, email exchanges and decisions made, especially those that later come into question. This can help validate experiences and counteract the gaslighting attempts.
Creating clear boundaries can be beneficial. This could involve limiting the scope of the partner’s influence or specifying acceptable modes of communication.
What you should do if you are being manipulated by your business partner
If your business partner’s behavior begins to impact the business or your personal well-being, seek an outside perspective. Discussing your experiences with trusted colleagues or mentors can provide insight or validation.
An experienced business attorney can help you identify and address what is really going on. Mediation, negotiation or litigation may help, but you need to know your options. We help business owners resolve internal disputes and provide guidance so they can succeed. Contact us for a free initial consultation.