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My Boss Insists My First Hand Experiences Don’t Happen

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From the Arabian Gulf: My boss, also a “friend”, has – multiple times over the last couple years – insisted that first hand experiences of mine never happened. She will literally dig in her heels, turn pink and argue with me relentlessly that what I’m saying didn’t happen, despite it being my experience, her not being there, and the issue not being all that important. It’s infuriating. And when I stand my ground she doubles down on her argument, especially if there are staff or her family around. She’s never done it in front of HER friends.

This is far from the only issue. She will lie about her level of knowledge of various issues (she already knows someone I mention – I know though that she doesn’t; or she already knew work info that she clearly was confused about before I explained it). She speaks with complete authority and what seems like absolute belief in her perspective and position. It makes my skin crawl. I could go on and on. But really what I need to know is how to handle her insistence on questioning (in absolute terms) the reality of my first hand personal/professional experiences. It’s the one thing she does by which I actually feel damaged.

My Boss Insists My First Hand Experiences Don’t Happen

Answered by on -

A.

You are a highly educated professional woman. It could be that your boss feels threatened by you. She is therefore engaging in what is called “gas lighting”. Gaslighting is a type of emotional abuse. To gain more power, the abuser makes a victim question her own perceptions of reality, her judgment, and her feelings. Gaslighters keep their victim confused by a variety of methods. For example, they act as if they have the victim’s best interests at heart or they suggest they are the only person who cares or that they are the best friend the victim has. Over time, the constant questioning of their reality and shifting of the relationship gradually wears the victim down.

If this person were a friend or family member, I’d suggest you take as much distance from her as you could. But the fact that she is your boss complicates things considerably. Do start looking for another job. You will never win an argument with her. She is not interested in advancing your career. Regardless of what she says during friendly moments, she is undermining your self-esteem and your belief in yourself.

In the meantime here are some suggestions for what to do:

  1. Stop arguing. You will get nowhere. She needs to be right and she needs you to agree that she is right in order to feel like she is in charge.
  2. Develop techniques to “agree” with her without agreeing. Try sentences like: “You may be right.” “I’ll think about it.” “That’s a really interesting perception.” The goal is to give yourself room to change the subject or leave the conversation without either fighting or giving in.
  3. Find yourself a good support network of people who are not involved with your boss. You need people who can remind you that you are not crazy, that your perceptions aren’t wrong, and that you are an amazing, good person.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

My Boss Insists My First Hand Experiences Don’t Happen

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). My Boss Insists My First Hand Experiences Don’t Happen. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 26, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2017/08/19/my-boss-insists-my-first-hand-experiences-dont-happen/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.