Dealing with Workplace Harassment: Understanding Corporate Psychopaths

Corporate Psychopaths courtesy of smh-com-au
Corporate Psychopaths courtesy of smh-com-au
Corporate Psychopaths courtesy of smh-com-au

Corporate Psychopaths courtesy of smh-com-au

As the frustration mounted at one of my previous jobs, I grew more curious to understand the psychology behind my experience.

Therefore, I started to research, the motive behind the ‘horrible boss’ behavior and I have learned that the people or managers who behave in such a way are actually called ‘corporate psychopaths’.

You should see my face when I read this. My situation and experience in my Jamaican workplace, began to make sense.

There seems to be a plethora of information and research on this topic. So, I started to feel better, somewhat, because my psychological assessment of my supervisor, was not far from the truth.

The prevalence of corporate psychopaths in the Jamaican workplace and workplaces everywhere is far more than psychopaths in the wider society. There seems to be a correlation between the authority, power and privilege gained on the job which facilitates this psychiatric disorder or tendency in people.

Lets examine how a corporate psychopath functions in the workplace.

According to Victor Lipman, in The Disturbing Link Between Psychopathy And Leadership, “the hallmarks of the psychopathic personality involve egocentric, grandiose behavior, completely lacking empathy and conscience. Additionally, psychopaths may be charismatic, charming, and adept at manipulating one-on-one interactions.

In a corporation, one’s ability to advance is determined in large measure by a person’s ability to favorably impress his or her direct manager. Unfortunately, certain of these psychopathic qualities – in particular charm, charisma, grandiosity (which can be mistaken for vision or confidence) and the ability to “perform” convincingly in one-on-one settings – are also qualities that can help one get ahead in the business world.”

To gain a better understanding, one can read Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work, by Paul Babiak, Ph.D., and Robert Hare. Their book notes that

Several abilities – skills, actually – make it difficult to see psychopaths for who they are. First, they are motivated to, and have a talent for, ‘reading people’ and for sizing them up quickly. They identify a person’s likes and dislikes, motives, needs, weak spots, and vulnerabilities…

Second, many psychopaths come across as having excellent oral communication skills. In many cases, these skills are more apparent than real because of their readiness to jump right into a conversation without the social inhibitions that hamper most people…

Third, they are masters of impression management; their insight into the psyche of others combined with a superficial – but convincing – verbal fluency allows them to change their situation skillfully as it suits the situation and their game plan….

Some do not have enough social or communication skill or education to interact successfully with others, relying instead on threats, coercion, intimidation, and violence to dominate others and to get what they want. Typically, such individuals are manifestly aggressive and rather nasty, and unlikely to charm victims into submission, relying on their bullying approach instead.

Characteristics of Psychopaths courtesy of shiftfrequency-com

Characteristics of Psychopaths courtesy of shiftfrequency-com

There are some characteristics in this outline that are familiar behaviors experienced by myself, on the job.

In a study conducted by Paul Babiak, Robert Hare and Craig Neumann, in 2010, a sample of 203 management individuals from various companies’ were assessed. “The research showed that approximately 3% of those assessed in this management development program study scored in the psychopath range – well above the incidence of 1% in the general population. By comparison, the incidence of psychopathy in prison populations is estimated at around 15%.”

This information may be alarming to most. However, once you begin to reflect on your own experiences things might just start to make sense; or as much sense as working with a corporate psychopath can make.

Copyright © 2016, Denise N. Fyffe

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