They live among us and many wield power. After all, many CEO’s and politicians are among their ranks, as they seek careers that enhance their inflated ego and create wealth. They are even our bosses. They are psychopaths.
Unlike Charles Manson, Ted Bundy and the like, corporate psychopaths haven’t committed murder but seek money power and fame --- And can make one’s work life miserable.
Are you working for a psychopath? If you really want to know, an expert has revealed some telltale signs. Dr. Kellie Vincent, MBA director and principal lecturer from the Westminster Business School at the University of Westminster in London says,
We know that only 1 percent of the general population are psychopathic but the work of Robert Hare and Paul Babiak in their book, Snakes in Suits, alerted us to the fact that among managers this increases to 7 percent. The concern for all of us is that we may have psychopaths sitting at the next desk.
This is very reassuring. Robert D. Hare is a world- renowned psychopathy expert and Paul Babiak is an industrial-organization psychologist. They took a scientifically sound look at how psychopaths operate in the corporate world. The corporate world, where risk and high profits are rewarded, is the perfect place for this personality type to thrive.
A key point to remember about corporate psychopaths is that they are intelligent individuals. They haven’t yet been caught and are agile enough to avoid detection.
Most authors of popular books focusing on the topic outline tricks to identify whether or not someone really is a psychopath. For this purpose, a spectrum has been created pulling together a number of scales and measures to analyze a combination of key behaviors that you will expect to see in psychopaths.
Vincent lists the telltale signs of a psychopath:
1. Superficial Charm – They are highly charismatic with entertaining personalities.
2. They lie a lot -They have a gift of gab and can talk their way out of lies.
3. Manipulative - They are con-men who are well-connected and get others to do their dirty work.
4. Bragging – They are very arrogant and view themselves as superior to others and above reproach.
5. Lack of Remorse – They are ruthless, stepping over others to get ahead and enjoy doing so.
6. Shallow and Cold – They are very unemotional.
7. Zero Empathy – They are selfish and take pleasure in verbally abusing and belittling others.
8. Lacking Responsibility – They blame others for mistakes while taking credit for others’ success.
The best advice is really to avoid them as long as you are able to and don’t expose yourself to their manipulative behavior. Admittedly, this sounds like running away so if you can’t distance yourself, find way to detract attention and get some allies on side.
The best advice when dealing with frankly toxic but probably not truly psychopathic colleagues is to keep your nerve. Use whatever mechanisms you can to expose them as bullies. Keep evidence, make sure you have HR support and keep an eye out for your peers; probably if you feel this way, others do, too. Speaking about it, in itself, can help.