As a someone from the great state of Washington, I’m well aware of our area’s infamous psychopaths: the Green River Killer and Ted Bundy. But beyond these notorious killers there psychopaths lurking in the business world, especially at the higher rungs of the corporate ladder. They might not be serial killers but their damage can still be devastating, especially if they are your boss or a close colleague.
An article on EHSToday states that psychopaths lack human attachment or genuine human emotion, and tend to break rules and push the envelope of “acceptable behavior” (2013). They also tend to be charming, inhumanly calm, antisocial, and arrogant (2013).
Psychopaths are everywhere. According to a RecruitLoop article (2014) one out of 100 people in the general population have psychopathic tendencies. And in the corporate world, there is convincing evidence that one in 10 senior executives have psychopathic traits (2014). “It makes sense that people who are almost psychopathic can be found in the business world; psychopaths are attracted to power and money the way sharks are attracted to chum,” as stated in an Behavioral Health Evolution article. Apparently, the higher up the corporate chain the more potential for psychopaths.
As Seattle is home to many large, important organizations, such as Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, I can’t help but think of how many psychos there are here alone.
So now that we know psychopaths exist, how can we spot them? RecruitLoop defined a list of 11 ways to spot a psychopath in the workplace.
11 Ways to Spot a Psychopath at Work (2014)
- Emotional manipulator: “While they are confident, outgoing and mentally resilient and rarely feel sorry for themselves, they are master manipulators are extremely proficient at eliciting pity and compassion.”
- Control freak: “If you feel like you are being micro-managed, you probably are!”
- Charming: “They know only too well the value of turning on the charm early in a relationship and then slowly turning it off to make you start doubting yourself and feeling less worthy.”
- Bloodsucker: “A Psychopath might ‘confide’ in you about some ordinary idea of his/her own in the hope you then offer one of your own that is better.”
- Liar Liar: “A tendency to misrepresent the facts while appearing plausible and reasonable, along with a lack of guilt or anxiety over telling lies is another hallmark of psychopathic behaviour.”
- Narcissistic: “Relationship patterns in both their personal and corporate lives are often stormy and short-lived and “Friendships” are often terminated without warning once you cease to be ‘useful.’”
- Teflon-coated: “Psychopaths never accept responsibility for their mistakes and poor behaviour. Worse than that, they are brilliant at manufacturing evidence that makes someone else look guilty so the blame is quickly shifted.”
- Great acting skills: If you have a boss who is prone to extreme displays of emotion then quickly returns to normal as if nothing has happened, then you might question whether he or she really feels anything at all.”
- Risk taker: “Things to watch for are a package of risky investments, unwise alliances, inappropriate behaviour, and risqué comments.”
- Power-hungry: “Psychopaths need to control and manipulate others and so are attracted to positions where they can influence others. In the corporate world, senior management roles are ideal places for psychopaths to function in.”
- Menacing ‘aura’: “There is the suggestion that psychopaths give out a certain ‘aura’ and comments like “he makes my skin crawl”, “he makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end”, and “he sends chills up my spine” are just some of the reactions people report.”
I can see why so many executives are psychopaths, with the exception of four and maybe five, this is basically a list of required skills on an executive-level job description. That’s perhaps a little troublesome.
If you suspect your boss or another colleague which you closely work with is a psychopath—it might be time to dust of the ol’ resum and find a new job.
Cable, J. (2013, Oct 7). NSC 2013: How to Spot a Psychopath in Your Workplace. EHSToday. Retrieved from http://ehstoday.com/safety/nsc-2013-how-spot-psychopath-your-workplace
Eichner, B. (2014, Jun 10). 11 Ways to Spot a Psychopath at Work. RecruitLoop. Retrieved from http://recruitloop.com/blog/11-ways-to-spot-a-psychopath-at-work/
Schouten, R., & Silver, J. Hazelden. (2012). Almost a Psychopath. Behavioral Health Evolution. Retrieved from http://www.bhevolution.org/public/almost_psychopath.page