There is always a reason, an explanation, a justification … well, no more. When we think of emotional abuse, too often we only associate it with personal relationships. Emotional abuse occurs in professional settings as well, and master manipulators find your weaknesses like a heat-seeking missile to exploit them. The trick to moving past emotional abuse, whether in the workplace or your personal life, is to first acknowledge that it is a reality, take control of your reactions, and–when appropriate–address the abuser. You cannot change individuals, just your reaction to them. But how do you know when it’s emotional abuse?
They blame you for all that goes wrong
Emotional abusers never step up to the plate and take responsibility for their actions. When things go wrong, they find someone to shoulder the burden. They parade around as an untouchable perfectionist who always gets it right. You can’t possibly be that flawed. You may do things differently but it doesn’t make it wrong. Speak up when you first see the pattern, and if you are only realizing it now, still say something.
They minimize your contribution
You pour your heart and soul into creating a home environment, or a great meal but your significant other downplays your hard work with words like “it’s okay” or “it’s not that hard, anybody can do it.” You are left feeling crushed as you know in your heart it was near perfect, and so do others. How could your significant other not see that? Emotional abusers will refuse to give you the credit you deserve, even when quality work stands before them. Learn to celebrate your own work and find friends and colleagues who will be your cheerleaders.
They publicly humiliate you
It’s not unusual for emotional abusers to blame the pressures of deadlines, the drive to preserve professional appearances, and the fear and cost of failure as reasons they choose the tactic of public humiliation. While those circumstances are frustrating, no one should be subjected to public humiliation, even if you made an egregious mistake. There should be a certain level of expected emotional intelligence if you want to be seen as an adult and especially as a leader. Too many leaders use this tactic with zero consequences. Remain calm and please don’t cry but let the loud mouth know you will be open to discussing the situation when things calm down.
They pressure you
It often takes a while, for women especially, to learn to stand in their own power. You spend so much time desperately wanting to please others that you fail to acknowledge when you are being pressured into doing an activity or changing your stance on a particular issue. Let’s practice saying no out loud a few times to get accustomed to using the word when you feel you are being backed into a corner against your will.