• Corporate Gaslighting

The Slow Methodical Art Of Being Crushed

We were part of a new agency built for a specific client - which means the team was made of of people who had been pulled together from different agencies form one new entity.


We didn't know each other but we looked at each other and thought, "they hired you so they trust you, so i trust you, let's get to work"


They hadn't yet found a leader for our group which meant the team was growing expedentially ... first there were around 15, then 25, then 35 .... all trying to do good work while trying to work out how to build a totally new entity. 


Because of this, 3 of us, all women of experience, stepped up to provide some semblance of purpose and process and place - which wasn't hard because our wider team was open and generous and believed in the idea of the agency.  It was pretty awesome.  


Then they hired him. 


In my first meeting with him I heard that my home-agency was a "laughingstock" ... that we had a bad reputation within the broader company and he wasn't sure what value I brought. 


Over the next months I heard that last part at least a dozen times.


At random times, and anytime I was called out for something good, he'd pull me aside to share that "I've talked to literally everyone in the agency and no one can tell me what value you bring."  Or, I'd come out of a good meeting with the CMO that was a solid stand-up triple as meetings go and over the next days and weeks the meeting would go from good to 'disastrous'. In between, he'd be nice, making sure I knew he had gotten something for the group that I had wanted for them.


I thought I was dealing with it well....taking the critical advice and blowing off the bullshit about my value. I knew myself and what my team was doing and I knew it was ' of value'. 


Then I was in a meeting with him and the president and something I suggested as a solution was picked up and run with.  So I stupidly said to him, "See, I bring value"


I can still feel the hunching of my shoulders and the nausea as the president said to him, "What's her problem"? 


I had fallen into the trap and was turning into a needy, whinging girl.  


Ugh. So, obviously I totally wasn't dealing with it.  By this time, he had driven one of the other women away and the third was looking back at me with her own shell shocked eyes.  And so I asked to be transferred.  And I thought, given how transparent I was with my home-agency leadership and the righteousness of my case that I would be taken care of. 


But no. 


I'm in a new job now at a new company and I'm building a safe department where every voice is valued and no one is seen as 'less' because of age, color, gender, sexuality, religion or any other way we splice the human condition.  And everyone once in a blue moon when I feel that sense of shoulder hunching, I give myself a pep talk and a little bit of 'fuck you, you fucking motherfucker' towards his direction in the universe and I'm good.

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