Your boss is a psychopath—or at least he or she probably is, according to the numbers. One poll from Forbes found that there are three times as many psychopaths, generally defined as people who lack any true sense of empathy, in leadership roles as there are in the general population. And when researchers with the Australian Psychological Society surveyed 261 high-ranking professionals, they found that nearly one in five of them had psychopathic tendencies.
But before you make any drastic decisions, you’ll need to find out for sure. Herewith, we’ve rounded up some of the surefire ways to identify whether your horrible boss is a psychopath. So get ready for some long-awaited answers, and for more ways to hone your game as an armchair psychologist, read up on the 20 Signs You’re Definitely a Narcissist.
They love to lie.
No psychopath can resist telling a lie. In fact, according to a study published in Translational Psychiatry found that individuals with psychopathic traits are better at learning how to lie compared to their non-crazy counterparts. Basically, if you suspect that your boss is a psychopath, take everything he or she tells you with a grain of salt. And to learn how to effortlessly catch someone mid-fib, learn the 15 Secret Tricks for Spotting a Lie Every Time.
They’re always bored.
This isn’t just an everyday case of ennui at work. A psychopath’s boredom is constant and chronic, and they are always seeking out ways to stay stimulated. Why? Evidently, they don’t experience normal levels of arousal like the rest of the population, and they require an overabundance of stimulation just to feel normal.
They’re irresistibly charming.
“Psychopaths come across as having a superficial charm and good intelligence,” researchers Paul Babiak, Ph.D., and Dr. Robert D. Hare wrote in their book Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work. “He or she easily picks out topics that are important to us and reflects sympathetic points of view, sometimes complete with enthusiasm or ’emotion’ to reinforce the spoken words.” And because of the ability to disguise true self behind false charm, experts often refer to psychopaths as “social chameleons,” constantly changing their colors to best fit the situation.
They feel no guilt—even when they should.
It’s hard to feel remorseful when you don’t feel like you’ve done anything wrong. Such is the case for a psychopath, who rationalizes and excuses his or her inappropriate behavior until they’ve justified it to their satisfaction. In some situations, they’ll even deny that said bad behavior ever happened at all.
“The darker side of being a psychopath is that they find it difficult to control their impulses,” writes Dr. Jeremy Dean. “If they want to do something, they just go ahead and do it; there’s no fear or anxiety to hold them back.” Often, a psychopath’s impulsivity is mistaken in the workplace for enthusiasm and a strong work ethic, which is why they are so often able to get ahead. And if you want to find joy at your job, try the 20 Best Ways to Be More Mindful at Work.
Psychopaths believe themselves to be gods among men. Often they will waltz around the office reminding others of their inferiority and incompetence, just for the fun of it. Do they have any sort of evidence to back up their beliefs? Of course not, but they believe—no, know—that they’re better than you anyway.
They don’t take responsibility for their actions.
Because they always see themselves as the victim, psychopaths never claim wrongdoings as their own. “The psychopath will speak of himself in grandiose terms while blaming others and taking no responsibility for his actions,” writes Lillian Glass in her book The Body Language of Liars. With a psychopath as a boss, this can become especially frustrating, as you might find yourself constantly taking the blame for things you didn’t actually do.
Their long-term goals are either unrealistic or nonexistent.
Psychopaths don’t tend to plan far into the future. Their attitude toward the future is rather nonchalant, and if they do have any long-term goals, they tend to be unrealistic and unattainable (like becoming president with no college degree and no job experience). Take Charles Guiteau, the person who assassinated president Andrew Garfield, for example: With no money and no experience, he had plans to become an ambassador to a foreign country. He even wrote to the President on several occasions about his ambitions, though he never received a response.
They can’t maintain long-term relationships.
Between their tendency to get bored easily and their inability to empathize, it’s almost impossible for a psychopath to hold onto a steady, long-term relationship. Some psychopaths can keep the charade up for a while, but once things become too normal and predictable, they’ll move on in search of something more exciting.
Usually, a psychopath will only stay in a long-term relationship if they have something else to gain from it, like money or power. And if you’re questioning your long-term relationship, read up on the 20 Subtle Signs You’re in a Bad Marriage and Don’t Know It.
They get in trouble with the law.
People with psychopathic tendencies tend to get arrested more in general because of their reckless, thrill-seeking attitudes. One study published in Addictive Behaviors found that people with multiple DUIs “were significantly higher in hostility, sensation seeking, psychopathic deviance, [and] mania” compared to first-time offenders.
They thrive on hurting others.
If your boss derives joy from scrutinizing your every move, then they might be a psychopath. According to the Law Enforcement Bulletin, “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.” And if your boss loves to hate on you, consider making a switch to one of the 20 Best Jobs if You’re Over 40.
Psychopaths might lack genuine emotions, but they know how to fake them when necessary. Both in and out of the workplace, they will express what they perceive to be the proper emotions in order to get what they want—and often times, this comes at the expense of others.
One of the few emotions that a psychopath can tangibly feel is anger, and because of their lack of impulse control, things can get intense and violent. Sometimes a psychopath’s rage has something to do with you and sometimes it doesn’t—but either way, you don’t want to be in the room during that fit of fury. And if you find yourself going off the rails at work, try these 20 Best Ways to Calm Your Anger Instantly.
They love to talk about money.
Because psychopaths are so impulsive, they aren’t the best at handling their finances. But despite this, according to research out of Cornell University, psychopaths are twice as likely to talk about food, sex, and money, and less likely to discuss family, religion, and spirituality. Apparently psychopaths can talk the talk, but they can’t walk the walk.
They don’t know how to cry.
Psychopaths are generally devoid of emotion, and so naturally they have no idea how to cry. When they do “cry,” Glass noted that psychopaths will wipe one eye at a time, whereas “when people cry genuine tears they cry with both eyes, and so they will tend to wipe both eyes at once.” And to make sure that you never end up like your loathed psychopath boss, make sure you avoid these 30 Things You Should Never Do at Work.
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