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Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work [Kindle Edition]

Paul Babiak , Robert D. Hare
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (169 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Let's say you're about to hire somebody for a position in your company. Your corporation wants someone who's fearless, charismatic, and full of new ideas. Candidate X is charming, smart, and has all the right answers to your questions. Problem solved, right? Maybe not.

We'd like to think that if we met someone who was completely without conscience -- someone who was capable of doing anything at all if it served his or her purposes -- we would recognize it. In popular culture, the image of the psychopath is of someone like Hannibal Lecter or the BTK Killer. But in reality, many psychopaths just want money, or power, or fame, or simply a nice car. Where do these psychopaths go? Often, it's to the corporate world.

Researchers Paul Babiak and Robert Hare have long studied psychopaths. Hare, the author of Without Conscience, is a world-renowned expert on psychopathy, and Babiak is an industrial-organizational psychologist. Recently the two came together to study how psychopaths operate in corporations, and the results were surprising. They found that it's exactly the modern, open, more flexible corporate world, in which high risks can equal high profits, that attracts psychopaths. They may enter as rising stars and corporate saviors, but all too soon they're abusing the trust of colleagues, manipulating supervisors, and leaving the workplace in shambles.

Snakes in Suits is a compelling, frightening, and scientifically sound look at exactly how psychopaths work in the corporate environment: what kind of companies attract them, how they negotiate the hiring process, and how they function day by day. You'll learn how they apply their "instinctive" manipulation techniques -- assessing potential targets, controlling influential victims, and abandoning those no longer useful -- to business processes such as hiring, political command and control, and executive succession, all while hiding within the corporate culture. It's a must read for anyone in the business world, because whatever level you're at, you'll learn the subtle warning signs of psychopathic behavior and be able to protect yourself and your company -- before it's too late.



Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Psychopaths are described as incapable of empathy, guilt, or loyalty to anyone but themselves; still, spotting a psychopath isn't easy. Babiak, an industrial and organizational psychologist, and Hare (Without Conscience), creator of the standard tool for diagnosing psychopathology, present a study of the psychopath in the corporate landscape. A common description of psychopathology states that subjects "know the words but not the music;" Babiak and Hare state that "a clever psychopath can present such a well-rounded picture of a perfect job candidate that even seasoned interviewers" can be fooled. In between a disposable series of narrative acts that follow a psychopath's progress ("Act I, Scene I - Grand Entrance;" "Act III, Scene II - An Honest Mistake?" "Act V, Scene I - Circle the wagons"), thorough research and anecdotes from a number of sources-current literature, news media, and showbiz among them-to illuminate the power of the psychopath to manipulate those around him, as well as what strategies can be used to identify and disarm him. Clear and complete, this is a handy overview for managers and HR, with enough "self-defense" techniques to help coworkers from getting bit.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Babiak, an industrial and organizational psychologist, and Hare, the creator of the standard tool for diagnosing psychopathy, explore the infiltration into today's corporations by psychopaths, or those with destructive personality characteristics that are invisible to many with whom they interact. Their skilled manipulation begins with a perfect interview, as they are attractive job applicants who are confident and charming. They often flourish in fast-paced, changing industries with widespread uncertainty and can inflict considerable damage. Babiak and Hare explain in nontechnical language and real-world case studies how to protect employees and the company from these individuals who take advantage of organizational systems and processes, exploit communication weaknesses, and promote interpersonal conflicts. Babiak and Hare observe, "Companies accelerate their hiring practices to attract, hire, and retain new, high-potential talent before their competitors do. Gone are the days of the painstaking vetting process. Competition is fierce and qualified candidates few." This is an important perspective in the increasingly complicated hiring challenges facing corporate America. Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
326 of 333 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great title for a great book May 15, 2006
Format:Hardcover
The work of psychopath researchers Babiak & Hare has been reviewed in several periodicals over the past year, including Business 2.0, New York Times: Year In Ideas, Harvard Business Review and Fast Company, among others. Babiak is an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist with years of experience in the business world---he was the first to identify the "corporate psychopath"---and Hare is the world renowned author of Without Conscience, a seminal work on psychopaths. Their long awaited book, Snakes In Suits, has finally come out and it was well worth the wait.

Snakes In Suits is a page turner, written in an engaging and entertaining style, all the while conveying lots of new information on the topic. The book is structured in a somewhat unique way, as well, making it both a good book for the general reader as well as a must-have for the business reader. The fact that it is also well indexed is a plus, making it easier to refer back to topics in the future.

The authors make the point early on that "serial killer" psychopaths, those who make the headlines and crime show plot lines, make up only a small percentage of those in society who actually have a psychopathic personality. And, the rest of these people are living and working in the cubicle right next to us. To their credit, the authors carefully avoid the sensationalism that often characterizes books and articles on this topic. Their approach is even handed, balancing scientific evidence with an easy-reading style.

Each chapter begins with a case---drawn from the authors' real-life experience, no doubt---that includes dialog among the players (psychopath and victim alike). The reader becomes the "fly on the wall" watching and listening to what is going on.
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147 of 150 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
I don't usually recommend books that fall into the "Business," "Popular Psychology" or "Self-help" categories, but I believe this book is a must-read for anyone in business. (Read it before you start any new job, and remember its lessons.)

I'm not a mental health professional or scholar, so I can't say whether the characterization of "psychopath" is accurate; in my understanding, the more accurate term is "sociopath," unless actual physical violence or criminality is involved, but the definition is for those in the field to dispute or determine. Besides, in the absence of conscience, I would guess it's a slippery slope from the one to the other.

What I like most about this book is that it isn't merely focused on case studies, or on the havoc these personalities can wreak on their individual victims. Yes, the Ah-ha! moments when you finally recognize the manipulator and his/her tactics can be comforting, and it's great to finally see through these snakes' distortions of reality. However, the real contribution of this book, I contend, is that it addresses the collateral damage these monsters can do within an organization: crushing overall employee morale, eroding confidence in the company's internal ethics, and ultimately diminishing employee performance and retention of good "talent." (HR professionals, take note.)

I also appreciated that the authors don't give "band-aid" solutions to the victims. In my own case, after reading this book and assessing the damage done me by a snake in my sphere at a corporation I had loved working for, I sadly realized that the time had come to cut my losses and reinvent my professional life elsewhere.
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161 of 169 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
I read Without Conscience first, and then this book, and consider them to be useful complements to each other. Contrary to what another reviewer remarked - the first book is essentially a primer, and Snakes in Suits is a more advanced text dealing with the organizational environment.

The authors give plenty of examples, and plenty of tell-tales of psychopaths. Sure, you may see one or two signs here and there of others around you - but as they point out - you need to see a repeated pattern of many of the signs to be sure that you're dealing with the real thing.

Therein lies the real benefit of this book - to give you the tools to make the assessment in advance or as the situation unfolds - not after the fact. Armed with that, you can protect yourself from the machinations of the corporate psychopath. Being a little distrustful of everyone also doesn't hurt - until proven otherwise of a long period of time. Over the years, I've observed that one mistake people tend to make (which makes them vulnerable to the psychopath) is that they look to have 'friends' at work. Find your friends elsewhere - and go to work for the paycheck and career advancement.

I take issue with some of the conclusions of the authors (personal opinion - I'm not in a position to professionally disagree) - that the psychopath can ingratiate themelves with senior magagement to the extent that all criticism of them is brushed off. Sure, in some cases that maybe true. But in most cases, some dark hints or FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) can work both ways - both for and against the psychopath. The key, as they point out - is to establish your own reputation and relationships throughout the organization and steer clear of the psychopath.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an eye opening book. It gives examples ...
This is an eye opening book. It gives examples of how cunning these people are. We really need to be aware of them.
Published 4 days ago by Mary G.
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay but nothing special
Interesting, but repetitive and more opinions than empirically supported data.
Published 8 days ago by Marilyn W.
5.0 out of 5 stars Love the Book
Enjoyed the book!! Very fun to read and was difficult to put down! Opens your mind up to certain behaviors.
Published 11 days ago by whitney wolfe
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
GREAT BOOK! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Published 12 days ago by carol pollard
3.0 out of 5 stars Very useful as a handbook for HR practitioners and managers
Very useful as a handbook for HR practitioners and managers, iro recruiting and selecting, and managing, the psychopaths in the workplace. Read more
Published 22 days ago by adrienne molyneux
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Perfect over-view of my ex-husband the attorney! Every woman should read this book not just corporate heads.
Published 24 days ago by Linda Lund
5.0 out of 5 stars What an excellent book to serve as a guiding light in the ...
What an excellent book to serve as a guiding light in the workplace. I survived many bosses and co-workers who are psychopaths. Read more
Published 26 days ago by S. D. Poehler
4.0 out of 5 stars Very useful book for understanding the snakes or the "terrorists in...
Very useful book for understanding the snakes or the "terrorists in suits" among us in everyday business (or any other aspect of life). Read more
Published 1 month ago by D.
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent book!
very practical information....excellent book!!
Published 1 month ago by Patsy K.
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed reading it
Well written, I enjoyed reading it.
Published 1 month ago by Armantina R. Pelaez
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