How to Spot the Psychopaths…

Occasionally, I find a great read online and decide to share it should anyone who reads this blog find it interesting too. An article this week certainly made me think, and smile – what better way to kick off the week?

How to spot the Psychopaths… and how your boss might be one of them!

Psychopath (sahy-kuh-path)

  1. A person suffering from a chronic mental disorder with a tendency to display abnormal, violent or antisocial behaviour and a failure to feel guilt for such acts.
  2. A person with a psychopathic personality, which manifests as amoral and antisocial behaviour, lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships, extreme egocentricity, failure to learn from experience, etc.

TV has got a lot to answer for; larger than life characters like The Sopranos Mafia boss, Tony Soprano, and Wall Street’s, Gordon Gekko, convince us that it’s easy to spot the unempathetic psychopaths, Machiavellian game players and the “me, me, me” narcissists among us. However, Oliver James, author of Office Politics, says people who display this triad of characteristics in the modern workplace are often adept at concealing the darker side of their nature, and if they can conceal it well, they are prone to succeeding in the business world.

“1% of the population are psychopathic. 4% of American Senior Managers are psychopathic and a study of English Senior Managers showed they are much more likely to be narcissists than the occupants of Broadmoor Secure Mental Health Hospital.” – Oliver James.

So, how do you spot a psychopath? Or are you one? In his book, James suggests you score people on the following characteristics using a rating scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). The higher the score, the more likely they are to possess the “dark triad” of personality traits.

  1. They tend to exploit and trick others for self-advancement.
  2. They have used lies and deception to get their way.
  3. They have used ingratiation to get their way.
  4. They tend to manipulate others for selfish reasons.
  5. They tend not to feel regretful and apologetic after having done wrong.
  6. They tend not to worry about whether their behaviour is ethical.
  7. They tend to be lacking in empathy and are crassly unaware of the distress they can cause others.
  8. They tend to take a pretty dim view of humanity, attributing nasty motives and selfishness.
  9. They tend to be hungry for admiration.
  10. They tend to want to be the centre of attention.
  11. They tend to aim for higher status and develop signs of their own importance.
  12. They tend to take it for granted that other people will make extra efforts to help them.

Any of these sound familiar?

Office Politics: How to Thrive in a World of Lying, Backstabbing and Dirty Tricks, by Oliver James, is available now.

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