Think Michael Myers may be working the next cube over? This can prove a serious problem and in some instances could damage your reputation at work.
Psychopaths typically display numerous characteristics including a lack of empathy or emotion, and an inability to plan and make decisions. All of which can make them extremely bad in teams or positions of power.
If these traits sound like someone you know, such as your cube mate or boss, you may be in for a world of trouble. Here is an in-depth list of traits and their descriptions to help you identify the office psychopath so you can steer clear...
1. Smooth Operator
Normal smooth talking can be considered charming or endearing - even sexy at times. This psychopath’s smooth talk; however, is neither sexy nor charming.
Pathological lying is used by the psychopath purely as a means to an end; whether that is to get something they want or to make them appear more normal or relatable. An example of this type of sicko speech would be if you came into work distraught over a family member passing away, the psychopath’s response may be to make up a very believable story about a similar experience. But do not be mistaken, this is not to comfort you or make you feel more at ease; it is to attract attention away from you to themselves.
Psychopaths love the spotlight whether it comes from a negative or positive place and will stop at nothing to get it.
2. Very Needy Indeed
We have all had that needy girlfriend or boyfriend; constantly vying for our attention and love - this is not the kind of needy we are talking about here.
Psychopath "neediness" is often much more blunt in wording and describes their current basic needs - none of which have to do with cuddling. The psychopath has a hard time with internalizing social norms, which means when they are experiencing any type of discomfort they will voice it, often loudly and without a filter.
Sure, sometimes the office is too hot, or your late lunch has left your stomach in knots. But the psychopath’s reaction to this normal discomfort is often severe, and they will continue to voice their discomfort until something is done to fulfill their need or cure what ails them. According to Business Insider, psychopaths will use twice as many words to describe their need and often provide what society would describe as "too much information" to convey their discomfort.
So if Sally in cube 4 won’t stop discussing how bad her stomach hurts and whether or not she has gone to the bathroom today, this could be a sign she is having a psychopathic episode.
Working on your next career defining project with Sally? I think not.
3. Living in the Past
We all reminisce about past achievements, failures, or happy moments in our lives. But the psychopath lives in the past. Psychologists believe that one sign of psychopathy is the psychopath’s continuous reference to the past tense due to their detachment to the present.
Now, this may not seem very diabolical at first; however, this detachment from the present is what allows some psychopaths to do their dirtiest work, i.e., damage to one’s property or person. This also aids them in their inability to relate, comfort, or aid others which can begin to explain the psychopath’s lack of empathy.
4. Constantly Playing Victim
The psychopath cannot and will not take responsibility for their actions when things take a turn for the worst - ever. They will not only deny responsibility, but they will attempt to convince anyone who will listen that they are the victim. This consists of them concocting stories containing half lies and truths to relieve themselves of blame and, in turn, put the blame on others.
Fabrication of half truths is an art form to the psychopath. In fact, I think in their private time they spend most hours reinventing their life and experiences just to convince others of their innocence and achievements.
Which leads us too...
5. Intense Feelings of Grandiose
This is by far the most annoying and damaging sign of a psychopath, sans the lack of empathy. The psychopath loves, loves, loves themselves. They love themselves so much that they will create an air of love from others around them to nestle themselves deeply into the lie.
Feelings of grandiose can include lying to others about achievements, amazing projects they are working on, or how perfect their love life or work/home life is. These lies can reach truly terrific heights where, in fact, the psychopath will invent relationships with famous individuals, higher ups at the office, and other persons of importance in society.
Again, their talent of using half truths helps them live the lie and convince others that they are just that amazing - can you believe it? Nope. These half-truths are meant to trick you, your coworkers, and your boss into believing you simply cannot work/live without them. Whatever you do, do not give into these lies, don’t second guess yourself, and always use hard facts to separate the truths, half truths, and complete lies from the psychopath’s story.
6. A Planner They are Not
Couple feelings of grandiose, excessive selfishness and the inability to narrow focus and you have a recipe for disaster. When working with a psychopath, you will soon find they do not have the mental capacity to plan for the future.
Because they feel they are always on top of the world, they feel they will remain there forever. They do not foresee issues that could possibly arise as they are making their way toward their ultimate goal; therefore, they cannot properly deal with normal hiccups that could occur on the journey.
This trait can become a serious deficit for those who have to work in a team toward a common goal with a psychopath. The psychopath already "knows" they will succeed; therefore, they rarely put in the effort to achieve goals. They merely trust in their personality and greatness...FAIL.
If you are assigned to work on a project with the office psycho, take a moment to plan out a serious discussion with your boss on why your pairing may not work well and how the project may suffer due to your inability to work constructively with this individual. If you are forced in, be prepared to do most of the work yourself. Unfortunately, you must also prepare for the psychopath to claim responsibility for all of your hard work and efforts.
If you think your may be working with the office version of your favourite B-movie psychopath, you need to do as much recon as possible to make sure you don’t get caught up in the whirlwind of trouble that is about to break lose at the office. The one defense you have is your ability to observe. The psychopath’s body language often shows their true colours clearly. Couple this with watching how they go about their day and how they react to information and you should be able to identify the office psycho rather quickly - and when you do, make sure you keep your distance as much as possible.
Do you work with a psychopath? Which of the characteristics mentioned above do they possess?