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Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work Paperback – May 8, 2007
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From the Back Cover
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.
About the Author
Paul Babiak, Ph.D. is a New York-based industrial and organizational psychologist, and president of HRBackOffice, an executive coaching and consulting firm specializing in helping executives deal with possible psychopaths hiding within their organizations. He and his collaborators have conducted some of the most influential original research on corporate psychopaths. His work has been featured in newspapers, business magazines, and documentaries and he has been a guest on many radio and television talk shows. His clients have included executives in business, academia, law enforcement, government, insurance, medicine, marketing, finance and intelligence and he speaks about the corporate psychopath at professional conferences and business meetings. Paul is vice president of the Aftermath: Surviving Psychopathy Foundation, a non-profit organization providing information and support for victims of psychopathy.
Robert D. Hare, Ph.D., is the author of Without Conscience and the creator of the standard tool for diagnosing psychopathy. He is an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, and president of Darkstone Research Group, a forensic research and consulting firm. He has won numerous awards for his research, lectures widely on psychopathy, and consults with law enforcement organizations, including the FBI. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with his wife.
- Item Weight : 1.06 pounds
- Paperback : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780061147890
- ISBN-13 : 978-0061147890
- Dimensions : 0.88 x 6 x 9 inches
- ASIN : 0061147893
- Publisher : Harper Business; Reprint edition (May 8, 2007)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #73,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Some background - I work for a software development company, and my department was assigned to a new "Research & Development Director" six months ago. Since then all four team leads were removed from their positions - because they dared to express their opinion. Without even having a replacement! It was a coincidence that I started reading this book when a conflict between our new boss and my department started, and it helped me pay attention to details - unfortunately, I found all described personality traits in our new boss. The book provides good advice on what can be done in such situations, which helped me to some extent.
Most important - I realised that his grandiose, contradictory, irresponsible, vindictive and arrogant behaviour had an explanation and it is not worth the battle. I did my best to understand what he wanted us to do - it turned out to be impossible - everything was abstract, superficial, and statements contradicting between each other even within one sentence. Unfortunately, there is no happy ending, just like in the book.
I would have thought that something was wrong with me, if it wasn't this book. So, thank you!!!!
Here’s what I did learn:
First: learn all you can about psychopathy [read: buy this book and others!].
Second: once you’ve learned all about how to spot a psychopath, you’re still not ‘qualified’ to label someone as such, so don’t.
Third: avoid the psychopath, perhaps find another job but leave on your terms. To this I say: Good luck! If you are a conscientious and caring employee, you care about what you do. I was raised to speak up when you see wrong doing; this responsibility is mandatory if others are harmed. Running away from situations only perpetuates the problem. I’m looking for actual strategies beyond ‘identify them, but god forbid you actually label them as such, then run.’
Well…I find those lessons unacceptable. If you are a person such as myself who is forced to work with a psychopath [yes…I’m ‘daring’ to call a spade a spade], then you already know all too well the tell tale signs of one. In fact, if you are moderately intelligent and literate, you could probably write a book or screenplay on psychopathy yourself. Well over 95% of the book provides tips on recognizing characteristics of psychopathy and how our current business culture allows them to thrive [get hired, get promoted, and generally wreak havoc]. I would again argue most readers attracted to this book already know this. Ok…so what does society do to mitigate this then?
The book is great if someone knows little to nothing about psychopathy. I would like to state again, however, that the reader attracted to the title and background of the authors is looking for real world solutions beyond ‘run.’ This book was a big disappointment for me and left me feeling rather discouraged. I have found some websites with more useful, practical strategies in dealing with psychopaths in the workplace such as simply asking the psychopath to repeat him or herself. It throws them off their ‘game’ / disrupts their rhythm of web weaving—simple, but effective. How much good it does in the end, however, I don’t know. That’s why I turned to world-renowned psychologists and psychiatrists who have studied this personality disorder for decades: for tried and true strategies that have been scientifically studied to stem the progression of psychopathic damage on others [beyond simply stating the obvious of ‘don’t hire a psychopath in the first place.’].
The authors repeatedly caution against too broad application of the label "psychopath" and take care to delineate differences between how a clinical psychopath operates in the workplace and those who are merely maliciously manipulative and toxic co-workers or supervisors. In any case, they provide useful observations and advice applicable across the spectrum.
This would make a good companion read with Chialdini's "Influence", as this takes Cialdini's observations on influence in marketing and sales into a much darker direction.
As a final observation, this book was first published in 2006, and here we are almost a decade-and-a-half later and the actions, behaviors, and statements of the sitting POTUS could easily fill in for case studies and operational examples of a psychopath in an high-level organizational setting. It also accurately describes the attitudes and behaviors of those who continue to support him. Fascinating and disgusting at the same time.
Top reviews from other countries
This book performs a useful social service in pointing this out. However, I found that the descriptions of what these people get up to VERY circuitous and sometimes a bit confusing. This diminished the usefulness of the book.
There were also not enough illustrations of the kind of circumstances in which sociopathic behaviour can be spotted even by those who are not looking for it - so the book will help only those who are tenacious enough to spend time re-reading bits of it.
The hurt and damage done by these individuals is so great that an easier handbook for those who may encounter them in the workplace would have been welcome. So, only three stars.