Warning Flags That Make You Want To Quit The Job

Birgit Pohl
14 min readMay 24, 2021


Have you ever wondered about your colleague’s reaction? It just came out of the blue and you don’t know why your peer is reacting like that. You may find this behavior odd and strange and you can not even partially confirm what your colleague says about you.

There are certain behavioral tactics people use to trigger something in you. It can trigger rage or fear, but it’s not a good emotion. It certainly drains more energy, than it should.

We are all humans and we find ourselves to be in this situation trying to push someone into a certain reaction. Intentionally or not, knowingly or not. Try to observe yourself and figure out, if you need to quit the job or not.


“Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or group, making them question their own memory, perception, or judgment.” — Wikipedia

Gaslighting is a strategy to trick you out of your comfort zone, into frustration and rage. It is seeding insecurity. You basically don’t know, what is true and what is false.

Imagine your human resource manager calling you out for certain behavior. You seem to be constantly lying. You are wondering where this opinion is coming from. With a little research, you realize, that this is made up and you try to clear it up in a conversation. Your human resource manager is taking that as proof of you lying. You are starting to become furious, but enforces the HR’s belief.

Imagine you shall become the perpetrator. The person who always blames and complains. You are the bad person. People will watch you and tell you that you do certain mistakes. Though you don’t usually do such mistakes which they claim you to make, they will point it out and make everyone aware they have always been right when you do the mistake.

Gaslighters try to confuse you and they have several strategies for this. Let me show you some examples:

Your colleague complains about your skills, while you are trying to help her handling an urgent situation in which she knows you are the expert in.

You have been invited into the project because you are the expert and everyone knows it, but there is someone who could blame you for your poor skills, though you always have around three options as possible solutions for a problem. In order to avoid all the blaming that may happen, when the situation doesn’t turn out good, the gaslighter is already seeding you to be the person to be blamed and she wants you to believe it. People who constantly blame you for helping them are a sign to quit the job.

Your colleague expects you to finish in a new field of work as soon as possible, but he tells you that he is annoyed by you asking him for help.

Usually, it is best when teams teach their peers. Especially when the learning should happen quickly it is best to help. Not every one of us knows everything. This makes them more flexible and faster. But some people find you not important enough and exclude you from the experience. Which results in you being the person to be blamed, because you may not have been good enough for the task. People who refuse to help you, though they instruct you to take on a new unknown field are a sign, that you want to switch jobs.

You try to help your colleague with the best intentions, but your colleague blames you for helping or not helping good enough.

Have you ever heard about the drama triangle? There is a victim, a person who needs help, and you are trying to help the person. It is a situation you don’t want to be in forever. The situation escalates when you get blamed for helping and you suddenly find yourself within the role of a perpetrator. Definitely a sign to quit the job.

Your boss complains that you make decisions as the lead of your team.

Imagine, as a normal team member you have seen so many things in which you could create a positive impact and you have worked hard to finally step up as their team lead. As a leader, you obviously have the job to make decisions. Yet still, there are people who think you are not the one making decisions. This definitely leads to confusion. If this is the case, you probably have a genuine gaslighter in the team and it is time to quit the job.

Your boss or colleague undermines your authority as the lead in front of the customer and the team.

This is clearly a form of disrespect towards you and your role as well. Though someone might be your boss and you may be the line manager, your boss should know that the person has hired you for a reason. If you can not even fulfill the role you are supposed to be in, it is definitely time to go and seek the next challenge.

You are the technical lead, but your head of product makes technical decisions against your advises.

There are plenty of people who have a certain need to overly control the entire situation and may step into your realm of decision-making. Not only the boss from before, but it can be your peer or even your team-mate, too. While you can find strategies to take the need of control to your advantage for everyone who reports to you, you want to be careful with your boss. Since you have the responsibility for the boss’s actions, you may want to consider changing the ships and sail away.

You have come up with a great idea. It is so great it makes the round through the company. Eventually it comes back and it is being explained to you, as if you didn’t know what it is and you know the intention of why it has been implemented has changed and it turned out to be wrong.

If men would do it to women, it is called mansplaining. No matter the gender, you clearly can see, that the respect to you isn’t high enough that the person would name the inventor of the idea when passing the idea further. The person who passed the information further appears as the only inventor, which leads to the next person not being able to ask further questions to the original inventor. This is a great way to test how people communicate with each other and you definitely want to see if people are able to give credit who deserves the credit. This is a huge warning flag that shows in the direction to better quit the job.

Your colleague wants only “experienced” people, and though you may be able to proof your experience with a state proofed certification, he wouldn’t consider you as one, because you don’t belong into his elite group of entitled people.

You have studied for three years in this field and the colleague does not consider proof that you are the expert in this field. Clearly, this is a great sign of disrespect and you better look for a job where people are truly in need of your unique skills.

Are You Confused Now?

You feel the fear. Have you done something wrong? Why are they so angry with you? You have two ways to react: You don’t say anything about it and remain silent. The outcome might be, that they keep continuing with that. As they feel more comfortable pointing the finger at you, they tend to do it more often and more in public.

The other solution would be, you become angry about that. You switch into an attack mode and copy their strategy as you try to find something they have done wrong. You find yourself in a hysterical, loud conversation. You may be reacting emotionally, you are in a rut.

Try to keep calm and find supporters. It’s very important, that you stay polite. Even if they scream at you, let them scream until they are finished and then try to end the conversation. You will be in a very stressful situation, but all they want is for you to freak out so that they can prove themselves right. Don’t give them what they want. Strengthen your social status by attending café/lunch talks with other colleagues. Switch teams and even quit your job if it doesn’t work out. And nurture your soul by being with friends and family, people that do you good.

Do me a favor and create a protocol of the situations, where you have been gaslighted and talk to your superior and human resource manager about that.

Psychological Entitlement

Psychological entitlement refers to a general belief that one deserves more or is entitled to more than others are. Psychological entitlement is defined as a general belief because it is consistent over time and across different situations.

This strategy is also being used to keep you on a leash. People define rules for you that count for you and only you. “Ah, by the way. Since we talked about it, I don’t allow this.” Just as you speak about the topic, they come up with a rule for you. Their opinion is the one that counts, so you will see certain absolutism. It is their vote or no vote at all.

Your colleague comes to you and complains, that you didn’t ask him. He creates rules just for you: You are only allowed to come up with ideas after asking him.

Certainly a very confusing situation. Why would you only be allowed to come with ideas, after asking someone? What I like to do is to ask the person if this rule also counts for themselves: They are only allowed to come up with ideas if they ask you. This makes them realize how idiotic the rule actually is. If this doesn’t help, there is clearly something wrong with the relationship and it is time to quit the job.

Your colleague is opposing your opinion repeatedly and he does not want to move away from his position so badly, that he would take extreme measurements to force you his decision onto you.

Some people add to their entitlement also absolutism. Only their opinion counts. No compromises are allowed. It must be their way only. These situations are bad when you know that you and even people around you are right.
In some situations, this is resolvable with clear voting. You will still see that some people start complaining or screaming about it, but let them. If you can’t resolve it with voting and common consensus, try to calm down the situation and talk about this later.
In some cases, healthy persistence helps also. Try not to focus on the other person’s weakness and stay calm. Try to focus on your strength and the facts. This helps you to reach the goal. The other person will focus on your weakness, but not on their strength. This is their weakness. When it comes to external decision-making, people will notice, that the person doesn’t have any good arguments. When it comes to you two making a common decision, being in a verbal argument as if you are fighting for the election for the US presidency, you just need to stay calm and persistent.

Some workplaces tend to accept absolutism. If so, quit the job.

Your colleague thinks, he is too good to do this kind of work and complains, why others haven’t reviewed his work yet.

Especially when it is actually their job, some people still think they are too good for some work they need to do and demand more challenging and prestigious tasks.

The other part we see here is impatience. The person demands that other people review his work right away. So generally people can feel entitled to have power over other people’s time management. They demand everyone to stop their current work to evaluate this person’s work.

He orders everybody to be available, but refuses to be available for everyone.

When observing this behavior, we need to consider our place as a human and our place based on our roles. Many of the staff and employees have the same level of entitlement and can not “order” someone to do a task unless it’s actually their role. In team situations where a team member relies on the help and contributions of everyone else, the behavior shown above is a sign of a lack of being able to work in a team. To resolve this situation it is important to get help or to talk to the person. If this is encouraged within the company, it is a sign to quit the job.

Entitlement Is Cancerous For Relationships And Businesses

“A sense of entitlement is a cancerous thought process; void of #gratitude & deadly to #relationships, #businesses, & nations.” — S. Maraboli

Behavior like this makes people leave most certainly because the person who feels entitled also does not value the work of the people around them.

Certainly not the best traits one can have. You may find yourself pointing the finger at this person and your emotions are filled with jealousy. Why should you follow his lead, when he is not doing what he praises? This is truly understandable thought.

In many cases, you have the possibility to try to explain this situation by using de-escalating communication. Let them reflect on themselves and convince them, that a different, more positive, way might be beneficial for them.

In some cases, it is also good to play the game by just being the understanding listener, especially when they are too good to do the work.

As long as you stay calm, you will see, entitled people will sort out themselves.


A psychologically insecure person is a person who perceives the world as dangerous to him. Mostly knowingly unstable, conflicted, and therefore unhappy they feel unconsciously rejected and fight back no matter the cost to get back the control they are lacking. More about it here.

Your boss is spending more time and money in controlling you than in business and product development and innovation.

Certainly, not one of the most effective ways to contribute to the company’s success and you can see, there are insecure people who have become leaders somehow. In this case, it is absolutely a delicate situation to tell your boss to calm down. Maybe it’s time to better quit the job.

Your colleague complains you should not question his work, while you were merely interested and fond of his work.

People, who take your affection for their work wrong and complain about you being around don’t deserve your interest in their work. How do we show interest in someone’s work? You do this by telling them that it is interesting and that you would like to know more about it. Therefore you do ask questions. Unluckily, asking questions leads to feeling being questioned in insecure people.

You delegate a problem to a person who is responsible for it, but he shouts at you and complaints that you should leave this subject to him.

You know to whom to go when you have a problem because this person is in charge of it and holds a certain responsibility. So you collect the information the person needs and you report it. Unfortunately, the energy you have spent is wasted, because the effort will likely tell the person, you want to take the job away from him. In certain situations, even mentioning a certain problem will lead to insecure people lashing out. If the person is your boss, it is probably a sign to quit your job.

His eyes are wide open, he breathes heavily and his mimic and gestics show fear when he drags you into the tea kitchen to say, that he fears, that the team lead of the other person will likely prevent him becoming a team lead in his own team.

One of the extreme cases. The next state of insecurity is fear. A more intense feeling of it. The person here wanted to become a team lead in his own team and created competition against a person in a different team, who has recently become a team lead in the other team. One must wonder, why would the insecure person create unhealthy competition, if both of them had the possibility to become team lead in their own teams? This is certainly not a situation you want to be caught up with. Better quit the job.

Insecure People Tend To Fight

When humans are in a fearful state, they have two possibilities: To fight or to flight. But because in a professional environment an insecure person can not flee, unless the person quits the job, they easily tend to go for a fight. And this with various strategies of covert and direct nature. If this happens, it’s probably time to quit the job.


My favorite. What is the definition of manipulation? Many people think it is trickery making someone doing something that they don’t want to do to gain an advantage over the other party, always with evil intentions.

This is only half the truth.

You can call it “convincing”, or “agreeing” or “to come to a consensus”. There is always some sort of manipulation involved and sometimes people like how they have been manipulated.

The German scientist Prof. Rainer Sachse describes it as the following:

  1. It’s intransparent.
  2. Manipulation describes an act that convinces the interaction partner to do something that the person otherwise wouldn’t do.
  3. It deceives the interaction partner about the real intentions of the manipulator.

Souce: Manipulation und Selbsttäuschung

Sachse distinguishes between transparent and intransparent manipulation later. The transparent manipulation says the person shows the actual intentions and wants to persuade you to do something you wouldn’t otherwise do. The intransparent version is the one we commonly know as manipulation.

And this is what we will be focussing on. We all probably know what to look for and ask ourselves: What does he really want?

He tells you, that he waits up to six months until he opens up himself to other people.

Narcissists are great manipulators and have high traits in Machiavellianism as well. Usually, people who have lost trust in people, in general, would say the above and they manipulate you into believing they are somebody else than they actually are. This often leads to the self-fulfilling prophecy that they can not trust people, because how would you react if you realize the person you first met 6 months ago is actually a totally different person. You would lose trust in them, you would disappoint them, because you don’t fit in their ideal reality, etc.

Luckily people can not be different people for such a long time. They reveal their true self within an hour with sentences like this. If you hear something like this, quit the job and run away as far as possible. It can only result in drama.

He tells you, that other people find him charming, funny and polite, but at the same speech he complaints about several individuals with whom he had strong fights and that’s why they are so terrible.

You can figure out if someone is trying to manipulate you. You can find inconsistency in what they are saying. Here we know, there is an inconsistency of him saying people find him charming, and him saying, people had strong fights with him. Consider this as a huge warning flag of someone who tries to gain your trust. If this is the case, you probably will be used sooner or later and therefore you want to quit the job.

He asks you how you like a certain other person and/or how you like the other person’s work.

This is a trickery question. The manipulator searches for certain opportunities to get into you. Why would he ask you about the other person? There are two options he wants to know:

Option 1: You like the other person.
In this case, you are out! You will become this person’s enemy. Because the reason he asked is, he wants to humiliate the other person for whatever reason and needs people to strengthen his position among the company. To view it from a sarcastic point of view: Because the more people say the same, the more truthy it becomes.

Option 2: You dislike the other person.
You will become the manipulator’s next best… victim. Now he got you. This is what he is waiting for. Another person he can use in order to strengthen his position within the group and weaken the other person’s position. As long as you play the game and remain loyal, no matter how far the manipulator gets, you remain safe against him — Not necessarily safe against the other group, though.

There is an option 3: Get out of there. Quit the job. There is obviously a huge war coming up and the parties are recruiting at the moment.

To Sum Up: Watch Out For Warning Flags

For your own survival, it is crucial to watch out for all of these warning flags and behavior that leads to a toxic environment. Even in those companies, where they say, they hire only the best, with cultural fit, you will definitely meet the greatest deceiver and manipulator. They are just good at what they are doing. Still, they lack honesty and integrity and therefore create a rather harsh environment for all those who want to focus on doing their job.

Most of the time one warning flag doesn’t come alone. They will add up and sometimes even escalate. People play political games and though you might not want to be caught up in it, you are definitely in the game and if you don’t play the game, the game might play you.



Birgit Pohl

Your leadership coach and knowledge curator | https://birgitpohl.com | @devbirgit 📸 Instagram, 🐦 Twitter, 🎥 Tiktok