The average psychopath is far from the image that Hollywood tries to make us believe - the serial killer with the manic laughter and the knife by their side. One in twenty-five people are said to have psychotic traits. Some of us even suffer the distress of having to work beside someone with this destructive personality. In the worst case scenario, you have one as your boss.
Allowing psychopaths to climb up the corporate ladder often spells disaster. Working under their command can increase the staff turnover, cause work-related stress, encourage bullying and reduce productively overall. Yet it is always the executive positions these individuals crave. Dr. Robert D. Hare, M.C., the creator of the Hare Psychopathy Test, reports that around 3–4% of professionals in senior business positions score as psychopaths on his scale.
Hare's test indicates that the average psychopath demonstrates a typical series of personality traits. Have you seen the following behaviours from your boss? If the answer is yes, then your suspicions may be right - your boss might very well be a psychopath.
15 They Are Superficially Charming
Psychopaths have an ability to come across as irresistibly charming. Using sharp oratorical skills, they can pretty much woo anyone - quite often those of the opposite sex. Yet as American writer Minna Thomas Antrim notes, "Between flattery and admiration there often flows a river of contempt."
Remember the first time you ever met your boss? Did you feel welcomed? Were you showered in compliments? Always be wary of those who are quick to charm people within seconds of meeting them. Quite often a psychopath will have you instantly warm up to them so that they can assert their control later on.
14 They Refuse To Move On
Does it feel as though your boss has been with the company for years? Psychopaths have a thirst for constant control and rarely let go of their "victims." If they were to let go and move onto something new, they would lose their control and would have to start the process all over again.
Realising that they can no longer lie, manipulate, or have those surrounding them do their bidding, is a horrifying thought for any psychopath. As a result, they usually stay in the same company for long periods of time.
13 They Are Too Impulsive
Psychopaths struggle to control their own impulses. If they want to do something,then they will just go ahead and do it. Have you noticed that your boss makes risky decisions without care for the consequences? Quite often, this leads to disruptions in the work place.
Well-balanced individuals usually leave most of their impulsivity behind in adolescence. For the psychopath, this is something they can't seem to grow out of.
12 They Blame Others For Their Own Mistakes
With anyone who is a big risk-taker, they often end up blaming others when things go south. Psychopaths have a much larger ego than the average person, so admitting their own mistakes is their worst fear.
Dr. William Hirstein explains, to Psychology Today, that this technique is often referred to as "blame externalization." He explains, "They blame others for events that are actually their fault. They may admit blame when forced into a corner, but these admissions are not accompanied by a sense of shame or remorse." In modern day speak, we refer to this technique as our boss "sh***ing all over us."
11 They Are Aggressive Or Threatening
Aggression isn't always physical. Other aggressive behaviours include: being over-controlling, shaming, refusing to listen, constantly interrupting others, blaming, yelling, lying, neglecting, stalking, inappropriate sexual pressure and being intimidating.
Their fearless dominance requires them to always maintain superiority over employees and quite often aggression is used to help achieve this. You should never feel threatened or intimidated in the work place. Make a note of this behaviour privately and speak to someone else from the company about your fears.
10 They Always Dress Impeccably
A true psychopath will not have a hair out of place, a crease in their shirt or even a tiny piece of dirt on their shoe. Their appearance is incredibly important to them and it all adds to the charm and grandeur of how they wish to present themselves to the world.
Pychopaths also believe that they are more attractive than they actually are. If your boss looks as if they have planned their outfits for the entire week ahead, this is often their ritual of "putting on the mask."
9 They Are Sexually Promiscuous
Have you heard quite a few rumours about your boss' sex life? And it's not that they haven't been active in awhile, is it? Quite often psychopaths have a history of many short-term marriages, yet they will most likely blame the demise of their relationships on anyone but themselves.
Unlike most people, psychopaths do not need emotional commitment in the bedroom. Instead they use sex to assert dominance over others. Quite often, this leads them to becoming serial adulterers. Not something any spouse would want to put up with for long.
8 They Have Many Different Faces
Psychopaths have many different faces as they will need to play the power game with a variety of different people. They are notorious for being able to deceive others, often changing their views and opinions to please those around them.
Jacob Wells, a self-professed psychopath, told the Daily Mail that when he meets someone new, he would aim to become "the most interesting person they know." To achieve this, he would constantly change his interests and expertise to suit the person.
7 They Are The Ultimate Power Players
The reason why psychopaths can actually become your boss is because they have an ability to assert themselves over others. They fly up the career ladder at a rapid speed with their ruthlessness and their ability to charm those in positions higher than them.
In society today there are many surgeons, judges, bankers and chief executives who score high on the Hare Psychopathy Checklist. They have the ability to think very clearly and abandon any emotion during the decision making progress.
6 They Are Manipulative
Alongside being pathological liars, a psychopath has the ability to manipulate those in front of them and essentially "bend them to their will."
One cunning (and worrying) technique they use in order to assert control over someone is called the "Guilt Spiral." When they have done something wrong or acted in a way that upsets someone, they will pretend to be hurt by their own actions so that the victim ends up consoling them instead. It's tricks like these that you should avoid falling for, even if it isn't easy.
5 They Need To Be Constantly Stimulated
There are three things that the psychopath fears more than having their power taken from them: silence, personal reflection and stillness. They feel the need to be constantly stimulated and their ultimate nemesis is boredom.
Dr. Meloy, a forensic psychologist, explains why psychopaths fear "down-time" so much: "When a psychopath is bored, he may recognise that his grandiosity is only an illusion. This recognition is unbearable."
4 They Are Quick To Get Rid Of People
A real psychopath will have friends, but solely under the condition that they remain the center of attention. When you have a boss who has psychotic traits, they will be more than willing to cut those off who simply aren't dancing to their beat.
Your targets will be set ridiculously high, your expected hours of work are staggering with little holiday, you are expected to always put work first and you have seen what happens to those who don't.
3 They Lack Empathy For Others
Quite often we are in a situation where we can't reveal our true emotions, but inside we feel hurt, upset or anxious. Many studies have proven that psychopaths simply do not have deep emotions.
Surprisingly, psychopaths have very good emotional intuition towards others and can "read" people very well (which makes them incredibly talented in the art of manipulation). Despite being able to read emotions fluently, they won't fully recognise it unless it serves them a purpose. For example, if your boss is a psychopath and they catch you sobbing in a car park they will most likely just walk straight past.
2 They Pass Off The Work Of Others As Their Own
Remember earlier when we mentioned that psychopaths have a willingness to succeed and zero guilt? Well this makes for a recipe for bad intentions and they would never think twice about stealing your work and passing it off as their own.
Imagine living in their world: no conscience or concern for the feelings of colleagues, friends, or even family members. If you were to take the credit for someone else's work you would probably be overcome with shame and guilt. For the psychopath, they just wouldn't feel that way at all.
1 They Give You The Feeling They Are One
Above all, always trust your instinct. Your intuition is probably better tuned than you think. If you suspect someone of being a psychopath, you are probably right.