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Is your boss a psychopath? Here's how to find out...


By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

May 13, 2015 | 4 min read

Psychopaths - the creative and media industry is full of them apparently. Not the violent, criminal psycho – but the everyday one. In fact, one in 25 of us are the “functioning” kind . And they are particularly prevalent in industries, such as the creative or media sector, where they can easily control people and hide in the fast paced environment if and when things go wrong.

This was the theory delivered by behavioural psychologist, performance coach and author Charlotte Austin-Talbot for NABS' Tuesday Club Talk last night (12 May.)

So how do you identify a functioning psychopath?

Well, there’s a spot check test of 20 questions were you rank yourself, your boss, colleague, partner or friend a score of zero to three depending on how accurately it describes the person (with three being pretty accurate). For women, scoring above 35 means you fall into the “functioning psycho” range, for men it’s more like 45 points.

Here are just some of the top traits your likely see in a functioning psycho.

Superficial charm: speak with confidence, but lack credible substance

Pathological lying: They will tell ‘little white lies’ as well as elaborate stories created to deceive

Impulsivity: Does not consider, to any great detail, the consequences of actions.

Lack of realistic long-term goals: Talks of future but does not deliver on plans, promises, deadlines etc.

Irresponsibility: Will risk long-term success for short-term gratification

Parasitic lifestyle: uses others for money, material possessions, food, shelter, sex etc.

Cunning and manipulative: Readily exploits weakness in others.

Lack of remorse or guilt: Does not have a normal sense of moral conscience.

Shallow affect: Lack of depth and displays of emotion are insincere

Failure to accept responsibility for own actions: Blames others quickly and will rationalise own behaviour.

How do you deal with them?

The relationship with a functioning psychopath will often resemble the parent – child relationship. To rationalise with them you have to act like an adult avoiding the patronising response of a parent or mirroring the child-like behaviour the psychopath will display.

Remember facts – if and when they lie you should try to remember these details and later relay them. If they are irrationally berating you, ask them to relay the facts about what you have done wrong.

Do not respond emotionally – you’ll instinctively want to flight, flight or freeze when attacked by a psychopath. Do not mirror their emotions Remain calm, think logically, and keep you voice steady when you reply.

Paraphrase – relay back to them they key points of the demands/accusations they are making.

Posture – don’t stand cross legged, cross armed, hunched over. You’ll give them impression of being a child in the wrong, giving them the illusion of having more power over you.

Eye contact – maintain eye contact. If you can’t, look at the space between their eyebrows (they’ll never be able to tell the difference).


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