11 signs you are working with a psychopath

Do you have a “Gone Girl” in your office? There are some things you can definitely watch out for when it comes to identifying a psychopath at work.

You may often joke that your coworker is a psychopath after a day when they particular annoy you or have displayed behavior you just simply don’t understand. However, what are the chances that you actually work with with a psychopath? We know there are certain professions that draw more psychopaths than others (and one of the top ones may rhyme with schmoyers) and there are certain places in the country that tend to draw this personality as well (sorry Washington D.C.) Plus, according to Robert Hare,  cited in the Psychopath test and author of ‘Snakes in Suits’,’ one in 100 hundred within the general public meet the criteria for psychopathy.

Even more interesting?  According to Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry, while only 1% of the population are psychopaths, 4% of business leaders and CEOs are psychopaths. You could have a whole Gone Girl situation play out right in your very own office. But there are some things you can watch out for.

1. They are very charming

It is quite disturbing to know that psychopaths are some of the most charming people out there.  Just like very charismatic people, they are great at making the person they are talking to feel like the center of the universe.

“We promote them, we elect them, and sometimes, a lot of people feel comfortable when people like that are in charge of our lives.” Dr. Igor Galynker, professor of psychiatry, told Psychology Today. But they are only being charming in order to do something vicious.

2. They confide in you way too fast

Is this person telling you information you know they shouldn’t be whether it be about their personal life or work? Beware because this full disclosure school of thought is simply an effort to force intimacy which they can use against you later.

3. They lie … a lot

A recent study found that psychopaths are not naturally great liars but they  are better at learning to lie than the rest of the population. They make it an art form. Watch out for great storytellers.

4. They say “umm” a lot

Of course many of us do but we probably aren’t even aware when we do it but a psychopath actually does this in order to come off more normal and sane, according to research.

5. They are super confident

There is confident and then there is psychopath confident. According to themselves they are the greatest person that ever lived and everything they have done is incredible. They are so bold and confident that they are right on the line of being a narcissist.

6. They love to manipulate

Two words: Hannibal Lector. He was the supreme manipulator. You will never win an argument against this person because they are experts when it comes to manipulation, deflection and deception. Also watch out for someone that is happy to steal credit for your work but then ready to give you all the blame if something goes wrong with the work.

7. They speak slowly and rather quietly

Think of Amy Dunne in Gone Girl. She never really raised her voice and she always appeared so calm even when things weren’t going her way. They speak in this neutral tone (every word has equal emphasis) because it gives them more control.

8. They have to mimic emotions

Psychopaths literally are not capable of empathizing with others. If a coworker is upset or even if they just hear an upsetting story they literally cannot exhibit compassion. Plus this also means the attention would have to be off of them.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) research shows that psychopaths are incapable of experiencing basic human emotions such as guilt or remorse. Corporate psychopath expert Paul Babiak and forensic behavioral consultant Mary Ellen O’Toole wrote in an article the two co-authored for the FBI on the corporate psychopath, “They display emotions only to manipulate individuals around them.”

9. They use words like “because” and “so that”

Watch out for these. They may seem like your ordinary, run of the mill subordinating conjunctions but they are important because they are associated with cause and effect statements.

According to authors and a psychologist who studies psychopathy at the University of British Columbia, they use these words because they view whatever crime they committed “as the logical outcome of a plan (something that ‘had’ to be done to achieve a goal).”

10. They hate to be bored

Many of us also want instant gratification but psychopaths truly disdain being bored. They need to be constantly stimulated.

11. They are thrill seekers

Impulse control is not really a thing. There is no planning involved. They are total adrenaline junkies and thrill seekers. According to Babiak and O’Toole you could mistake it for enthusiasm, it is not. But this is also what helps them get ahead in the corporate world.

“Some corporate psychopaths thrive on thrill-seeking, bore easily, seek stimulation, and play mind games with a strong desire to win. Unlike professional athletes moved by a desire to improve performance and surpass their personal best, psychopaths are driven by what they perceive as their victims’ vulnerabilities,” they wrote.

Meredith Lepore|is the Deputy Editor of Ladders and can be reached at mlepore@theladders.com.