At the desk next to you could be sitting a psychopathic colleague. They might be pilfering from your wallet, hacking into your computer or bad-mouthing you to the boss. Or they could be taking you out for lunch every day, telling you what a great friend you are and commending your latest presentation. Either way, they’re hoping to use you to their advantage.
A psychopathic colleague is not a team player. They look around the company and assess who will be useful to them.
If they befriend you, it’s because they have spotted a value that extends the reach of their pay cheque.
They depend on the malleability of others to help them carefully stage-manage their advance up the career ladder. Experts in psychopathy estimate that, aside from the criminal population, psychopaths are more frequently found in the corporate world than anywhere else.
The erudite, shrewd psychopath is most likely to choose a larger company to enact his games. Psychopaths of this kind are selectively workshy – they don’t see why they should be lifting a finger to do anything that doesn’t directly benefit them. They’re often drawn to the larger organisations where there is greater scope for impressive promotions and job titles – and there are more subordinates available for manipulation and abuse.
THE SEVEN SIGNS OF THE PSYCHOPATHIC COLLEAGUE...
A psychopath finds it easier to target top jobs where the key words on the job spec are vague – such as ‘leadership’ and ‘people management’ rather than any concrete qualifications. Their CV will focus on more general qualities, which are easier to embellish and harder to quantify. They manage to impress in a job interview with little more than a firm handshake and charisma, but little of any real substance.
Psychopaths are convincing and subtle flatterers. They’ll quickly size you up and align themselves with you in order to check out your potential worth to them. They will deliberately reflect the interests of the person they are targeting to manipulate them into thinking that they really are friends. Those who have been conned by psychopaths have often been heard to say sadly afterwards: “I thought I’d made a really good friend – we had so much in common.”
A psychopath will get a kick out of rifling through your desk or an unattended computer for any clues to weaknesses in your personality. There is none of the usual respect for privacy or personal boundaries in the psychopath’s drive to assess your potential to them. A handbag, desk drawer, email account or even your text messages – nothing is sacrosanct.
Don’t be surprised when you are suddenly overlooked for someone whom you just couldn’t envisage that your co-worker would have been interested in. Corporate psychopaths will target not just the powerful but those with access to power.
Seduction is just another means of gaining power for the psychopath and the ‘no relationships at the office’ rule won’t even be considered by a psychopath. Sex with subordinates is considered a perk of the job.
Psychopaths are stimulated by change and they are often good at adopting, or at least seeming to adopt, new technology – it makes them seem entrepreneurial and cutting-edge. And the fact that no one understands these new gadgets and gizmos means they can talk convincingly without facing too many questions. Not to mention that corporate psychopaths engineer to leave or change departments on a fairly regular basis – usually for a promotion, as they have impressed the people at the top so much in their current role. But also because they recognise the need to get out before all the people they have trodden on or misused are ‘on to them’ and get together.
Psychopaths have no company ethic: they don’t understand what the concept of working “for the good of the company”. For them, loyalty equals ‘loser’.
Edited from The Devil You Know: Looking out for the Psycho in your Life by Jessica Fellowes and Kerry Daynes – out now. (£12.99, Coronet and eBook.)
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