Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Workby Published 09 May 2006
|Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work.pdf|
Revised and updated with the latest scientific research and updated case studies, the business classic that offers a revealing look at psychopaths in the workplace—how to spot their destructive behavior and stop them from creating chaos in the modern corporate organization.
Over the past decade, Snakes in Suits has become the definitive book on how to discover and defend yourself against psychopaths in the office. Now, Dr. Paul Babiak and Dr. Robert D. Hare return with a revised and updated edition of their essential guide.
All of us at some point have—or will—come into contact with psychopathic individuals. The danger they present may not be readily apparent because of their ability to charm, deceive, and manipulate. Although not necessarily criminal, their self-serving nature frequently is destructive to the organizations that employ them. So how can we protect ourselves and our organizations in a business climate that offers the perfect conditions for psychopaths to thrive?
In Snakes in Suits, Hare, an expert on the scientific study of psychopathy, and Babiak, an industrial and organizational psychologist and a leading authority on the corporate psychopath, examine the role of psychopaths in modern corporations and provide the tools employers can use to avoid and deal with them. Together, they have developed the B-Scan 360, a research tool designed specifically for business professionals.
Dr. Babiak and Dr. Hare reveal the secret lives of psychopaths, explain the ways in which they manipulate and deceive, and help you to see through their games. The rapid pace of today’s corporate environment provides the perfect breeding ground for these "snakes in suits" and this newly revised and updated classic gives you the insight, information, and power to protect yourself and your company before it’s too late.
Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work Reviews
They are not lying under every rock nor do they occupy every office, but unfortunately, more and more "snakes" are filling leadership positions in Corporate America. Depending on which study you read, between 4 and 30% of our managers and executives are social predators without conscience. Their thrill seeking behavior and political gamesmanship amasses them personal power without any regard to the consequences for either their companies or their co-workers. We've seen some obvious results of their presence in the economic disasters beginning with the Savings and Loan Crises of the 1980s and continuing today with this longest Recession in US history. What is much more extensive and not so obvious is the personal toll working with a psychopath has on the individual and the impact on employee productivity, as well as long term business viability.
The authors provide a good mix of short vignettes, research and a running end-to-end story about the 11 month journey of one psychopath from his hiring to his promotion into the job of the boss he ousted. Although it is practically impossible to protect yourself from a smooth talking, charming psychopath once targeted, the authors explain why and how our current fast paced and constantly changing business environment is the ideal setting for these modern day con-men. Not only does our modern concept of business with its constant re-invention provide jungle like cover for these predators, the less clearly defined skills of leadership, such as strategic thinking, self-confidence, bias towards action and good communication, tailor fit these chameleon-like masters of manipulation.
The thing to remember about psychopaths, aka sociopaths, is that they are totally rational and sane, yet without compassion or remorse. Neuroscience has proven with fMRI scans that psychopaths simply do not react in a normal manner to emotional stimuli. Consequently, although you may have bosses or co-workers in your environment who sometimes behave in a selfish egotistical manner that make working relationships challenging, when you are dealing with a true psychopath, there is no possibility of a positive outcome. Their destructive nature is as immutable as that of a poisonous snake.
Read the cautionary tale, Snakes and Suits, for some tips on how to recognize the corporate psychopath.
This book delves into the ramifications of working alongside, above, or under a person who is 'suffering' from psychopathy. (I put suffering in quotes because the true psychopath will not feel anything of the sort; it is the people around them who will suffer.) Interestingly, this book--written by psychologists--takes a work-oriented perspective. As in, it will tell you how to navigate a professional situation if you feel you have become embroiled in the mad machinations of a psychopath's personal plan.
Interesting stuff. There are a few 'fictionalized' accounts of actual incidents culled and embellished from real-life case files that round out the intros and endings of the various sections. There's some good advice, and interesting insight.
One common complaint of this book is that it supposedly makes people call 'psychopath' on their co-workers. That is not this book's fault. They state several times that people aren't qualified to determine the mental health of their co-workers and, more importantly, that having a few of these traits doesn't make someone a psychopath. If people don't want to listen and would rather play armchair psychologist, that's on them. I'd rather live in a world where it is okay to write books on topics like this than in one where authors didn't publish books because overzealous readers don't take the authors' advice.
Anyway, this was an interesting and quick read.
Excellent book. I ordered this for my Kindle at the recommendation of a friend who is a psychologist while battling to deal with a boss who was rude, abusive, manipulative and a non-performer. She disguised it all by terrorizing staff, and then could be charming and articulate when needed.
I have always worked well with colleagues and been in environments (but for the SABC in Johannesburg, which has been toxic for years) where people respect, if not enjoy, each other and perform well.
This woman, an outspoken Christian, gave new meaning to the 6 letters that spell terror.
Before reading this book I was confused by her hostility. I have always performed well and have platinum recommendations. I maintain long friendships with former colleagues, clients and bosses. And so I was contemplating chatting with her and trying to find a mechanism to move forward, this book made it clear that was not the right approach.
Psychopaths in the workplace will lie, steal, cajole and charm to get what they want - they do not tolerate anyone who they realize is onto their lies and manipulation, nor anyone who is competent and a threat to their position. They do not realize that having strong clever people around you boosts you, the boss - they see it as a threat. They are the bosses who surround themselves with sycophantic incompetents because it makes them look good, besides which, you're replaceable.
They take pleasure in destroying others.
If you are dealing with a boss or colleague where you feel confused, dispirited and unable to quite put your finger on what is wrong. Read this book. Your colleague may not be a psychopath, but regrettably a significant number are. Either way, it carries good examples, is well-written and leaves you with important thoughts to reflect on. I ploughed through it in a weekend.
I read this as a follow up to Jon Ronson’s marvelous Psychopath Test, which was named for the diagnostic criteria Dr. Hare developed. I ended up skimming quite a bit of it because it was what it was billed to be – a book about dealing with psychopaths in the workplace, largely from a corporate management perspective. It’s good, but spent way too much time cautioning the reader to not do exactly what it was telling us how to do – realize that there are psychopaths among us and reducing the harm they can cause.
Gave me a name for something I’ve seen in both my personal and professional life – “the psychopathic bond.” The bond the psychopath will cultivate in another that allows them to feed. Raising the question – are psychopath vampires?
Also told me something I should have known, but didn’t. I shall quote. “It is important to note that psychopathy is a personality disorder, and that personality disorders are not the same as mental illness. At a basic level, a personal with a personality disorder has a limited range of stereotyped ‘solutions’ that he or she applies to most of the problems accounted in life. Those without a personality disorder are able to apply a variety of behaviors, depending on what best suits the situations.” (40)
Made me a little depressed with regard to domestic violence treatment and anger management therapy. Says that psychopaths will embrace such treatment to get out of jail, but there is no evidence it changes their behavior in any way, though they do apparently get high marks. The psychopath is apparently very good at faking it to get a passing grade, but internalizes none of it.
Had a tragic ending, illustrating, I think, the unspoken subtext of the book – if there’s a psychopath in your life, get away as soon as possible. A subtext that is in dramatic tension with the overt “you’re not qualified to judge if someone’s a psychopath.” Ah, modern life.
Ronson’s book was better.
Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest
Wow, it's the first book I've actually finished in almost two months. I honestly can't tell you the last time I went this long without reading, and to be completely, 100% honest, it's because Goodreads and blogging almost ruined reading for me. Goodreads used to be one of my favorite sites and I used to love reading and blogging for books, but increasingly, Goodreads started to feel more and more commercial, and the reviewers and authors on there started to feel way more entitled. I kept seeing authors whining about negative reviews, and I kept getting users coming onto my (mostly negative) reviews to engage with me repeatedly, despite my attempts to make it clear I had no interest in discussing with them Why They Believe My Opinion Is Wrong and Why They Are Entitled to Tell Me So. More and more, writing reviews started to feel like a very stressful job I wasn't being paid for, so I deleted about a thousand ARCs (advance reader copies) of books I'd been approved for from my device and stopped using Goodreads for about two months except to read comments and occasionally respond to people who checked in.
I get that Goodreads is a commercial website that is free to use and one of the ways they keep the site running is by advertising revenue, but at the same time, promoting that kind of atmosphere creates a site that can become exhausting to use because it rewards spammy behavior of self-promoting reviewers and authors who only want to engage with you because they want something from you. I'm really not interested in a quid pro quo relationship and I've dealt with too many authors and reviewers who act like anything that they write is gospel truth, and if you disagree with anything they say, you're out of the cult - no questions. I've also dealt with too many people who take a review of a book as a personal attack, discussion of racism as racism, disliking books written by people of color as not liking people of color, and criticism as general negativity. It's possible to disagree in opinions without resorting to insults, and I really wish people could get over their own discomfort with weighty topics long enough to realize that they're adding to the problem by acting like talking about it is a problem.
Anyway, I'm back and I'm tired and I'm probably not going to use the site as actively as I used to, but I still have books to read that I bought with my own money that I will be reviewing. Like this one, SNAKES IN SUITS. (Sorry for the earlier rant, but I value transparency and felt like it was important to talk about why I basically disappeared for two months without really saying anything.) SNAKES IN SUITS is part psychology book, part business book, and maybe part self-help. It's written by one of the guys who created the Psychopath Test, which is a test you can take to find out how much of a sociopath you are. I haven't taken the test myself, but I'm sure some of my haters probably think I'd get a perfect score. As a psychology major, I'm skeptical of tests. I think people want to think the best of themselves generally, and are prone to answering in a biased way because of things like cognitive dissonance or even because they want the researcher to like them more.
I had a lot of problems with SNAKES IN SUITS. It features stories that I think are made up or compounded of actual interactions with sociopaths. They come across as cutesy Lifetime synopses, and feel way too dramatic to take seriously, even though I'm sure they're representative of actual interactions with psychopaths. I also feel like the book isn't particularly helpful because the general takeaway message I seemed to get from these was, "Avoid them if possible, because once you get involved, you're totally screwed - good luck, Jan." I was expecting something more scientific, comparing psychopaths in the general population, psychopaths in the prison system, psychopaths in corporate positions (hence the title), and things like recidivism, pros and cons, and evolutionary bases for why psychopathy has an evolutionary advantage in the first place (opportunistic bastards).
I would not recommend this book to people who are looking for help in dealing with psychopaths in the workplace OR for people who are interested in studying psychopathy. It reads like a cheap, pop psychology book and wasn't particularly informative or helpful, imho.