Working for a psychopath

I have had the opportunity to work for two psychopaths in my life. Both externally charming though a little odd, both lied with chilling ease and both would behave in the strangest ways. One of them lied about his health to induce me to work for him, telling me he was dying and needed someone to come in and help run the business for his children. He was still around a decade later, fit as a mallee bull. The other was a CEO working for an all male board and had them convinced his touching up of a young female staff member was not really that bad after all.

In my experience working for psychopaths, the only strategy you should be considering is how to get away, how to get out. While they have emotions, they have no feelings. They genuinely don’t see their actions as something worth getting upset about, in fact others getting upset is just an opportunity for them to store information for later opportunities to push buttons.

“The toucher”, it turned out, had a history of this sort of behaviour. Previous staff and board members had either glossed over it or decided it was way too difficult to stand up to him. He felt very comfortable telling slight lies to discredit those that were silly enough to get in his way. By slight lies I mean the sort of lies that couldn’t really be tested but were none the less harmful to someone’s reputation. “I should have been more careful checking his resume, if I knew then, what I know now” that sort of lie.

Though pretty much all of the credible research into psychopathy would indicate it is a male domain, that is only because the research has been done in male prisons. There is no reason to believe that psychopathy is not gender equal. While it may seem the honourable thing to do, by standing up for what is right, when you discover your boss is a psychopath, history shows it is seriously career limiting. They hold all the cards. Just start to carefully plan your exit strategy.

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