Experts calculate that sociopaths account for three to four per cent of the male population and less than one per cent of the female population. And what makes them so different, according to the University of British Columbia’s Robert Hare, is their “complete lack in conscience and feelings for others”.As such, they are able to put themselves and their interests to the forefront at all times and deem irrelevant any cost to others. This is strengthened by the fact that they do not believe normal rules and laws apply to them. You will never have an apology from a sociopath because they will never see that they are wrong. Hare described them as people who “selfishly take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without the slightest sense of guilt or regret”. Such people are, however, are very difficult to spot, so the chances are that one may have been in your employ without your knowing. At the high end of the scale come murderers and cult leaders, and it is perhaps the latter that should make us stop and think just how potentially dangerous to our businesses these people can be. Cult leaders are so charismatic that they can charm their followers into mass suicide – often in highly bizarre ways. Now imagine what someone with such an ability to influence others can do to a business. The sociopath is well liked, as well as highly charming. Having a weakness for charm, I realise all to clearly that I have made the mistake of employing a few. The sociopath is only friendly because of their agenda – con artists would be a more realistic definition. Following on from the con artist description is that sociopaths lie – all the time – and are continually manipulative. This may be for their agenda, for effect, or indeed because they are so delusional that they believe it. Being such artistic story tellers, they mostly get believed and as they hate to lose, they will continue viciously defending any web of lies to the point of ridiculousness. Looking back, normal people were drawn into laughter over bullying in a way they would have never reduced themselves to. The atmosphere was one of continual discord and destruction, and where was I in all this? For a long while, I was as charmed as anyone and was manipulated into leaning on the supposedly sympathetic sociopath for support in this suddenly hostile environment. It took me a shamingly long while to wake up, but remember they exude such magnetism that the most dangerous and outrageous of statements sounds reasonable. As a sane person, one’s natural instinct is to behave in rational manners. That’s a huge mistake given that you cannot reason with a sociopath. You cannot appeal to their better nature (no conscience remember?). You will not win an argument and prove them wrong as they will only attack you – and be a great deal better at it than you. If you have may be employing one then you need to act. You need to do cold, hard checking. Look for complaints you may have received from a brave few on bullying over time. Look for the truth of the stories you are told. Document everything, identify what is going on, trust your instincts and get rid – in whatever way it takes – of such a person before the toxicity destroys you and your business.
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