Skip to main content

Could Your Co-worker Actually Be A Psychopath?

More and more, it seems like your co-worker gets a perverse sense of satisfaction from psychologically obliterating everyone else in the office. You're starting to wonder if he or she might be a psychopath. Well, you might just be right.

I follow international workplace news -- it's fun to travel internationally, even if it's only in my head -- and one thread I've been following lately is the spate of stories in the international media about dealing with workplace psychopaths. Australian psychotherapist John Clarke is telling companies to be on the lookout for them, because they're way more common than we'd like to think. Up to 3% of average employees could have the inability to feel for other people and take enormous enjoyment in seeing them suffer. As Dr. Clarke said at a recent conference:

"The workplace psychopath is somebody who psychologically destroys the people they work with to feed their need for a sense of power and control and domination over other human beings.

"They don't suffer any guilt or remorse, or in fact they enjoy the suffering of other people."

Clarke consults companies that have had psychopaths on staff, and he's watched their co-workers suffer from anxiety and depression or go on to commit suicide.

Workplace psychopaths can be hard to identify, but smoking them out starts with the hiring process because workplace psychopaths tend to lie and exaggerate on resumes and in interviews. So better background checking can help screen them out. The problem is, once hired they can be pretty good at faking a good job except for the I-want-to-mentally-torture-you part. And oddly enough, they can also be well-liked.

Psychopaths, however, do not tend to rise to the top of the corporate structure. Instead, they float around laterally spreading their unique brand of misery. Just hope they don't work directly with you and start to manipulate and isolate you from your peers.

Don't worry, because the Australian breakfast shows have got this one covered. Let's go to the video tape!

How to deal with workplace psychopaths (Breakfast Channel 10, March 2012) from Suzie Plush on Vimeo.


  1. Thanks for posting this blog about psychopaths in the work place. I believe I have a co-worker who may in fact be a psychopath. Her name is Georgia.
    I have no idea why my boss hired her. Our jobs require us to have a valid driver's license and Georgia does not have one but somehow she got hired anyways. At first, no one was a big fan of her but now it seems like more and more people in the office like her and will do anything that she asks. One of my other co-workers gives her rides around the city to help her get her job finished.
    Georgia is not good at her job. I can tell this and so can Lucy, another one of my co-workers. And yet somehow Georgia manages to get our boss to look the other way.
    Many times Georgia has attempted to usurp me and take over my position. Fortunately, I know a con when I hear one and I make sure that she doesn't get what she wants. Recently, Georgia and one other person convinced our boss to have positivity meetings where we have to compliment someone else's work. The only one in my office who complimented me was our boss. I think Georgia may be trying to isolate me from the rest of my co-workers. I still have Lucy though. Lucy is one of those types who don't take any crap from anyone and isn't afraid to tell them so.
    Does it sound like Georgia may be a psychopath? If so, what should I do to deal with her? Thanks.

  2. Oh, and I forgot to mention that Georgia has a huge ego and thinks that she is the most wonderful and most talented person on the earth. She even made up a Facebook page dedicated to how awesome she thinks she is.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Seven tips for dealing with a jealous coworker

Look at you, doing so well at work! We're so happy for you. Well, most of us are happy for you and refuse to spend the entire work day talking behind your back. Let's talk about how to handle our jealous co-workers!Like every other professional, you've no doubt experienced your share of failures and successes. Lately, however, things seem to be going your way at work. And how! Perhaps you've managed to ace an important project this quarter, been instrumental in landing a huge client, earned some well-deserved rewards for this and that, or -- egads! -- been given a slight promotion or additional work responsibilities (e.g., the work responsibilities you actually want).You're quietly chuffed, but somehow your co-workers seem none too pleased with this rapid turn of events. Oh no, what should you do now?It's a workplace tale older than the disjointed last season of Mad Men. The playing field in the department was even, cozy and overall very friendly -- until so-an…

Employees Blame Technology For Slowing Them Down At Work

Do you feel like you're always working, but never getting very much done? If so, you're not alone. Too much technology, and too much red tape, keep slowing us down at work. But technology, and more of it, is supposed to make our lives easier! Too much technology, however, does not compute for employees. A new SAP/Knowledge@Wharton survey of almost 700 corporate employees finds a full 60% of respondents blame technology "for inhibiting their ability to meet strategic goals." Gee, anyone who has ever used the self-checkout line at the grocery store can tell you that. However, 40% surveyed said that looking for ways to simplify the technology has been "a low priority" for their company. Too much paperwork is an on-going problem for the workplace, too. A new ServiceNow survey of nearly 1,000 managers finds that 90% are doing too much administrative work, no matter the size of the company. This paperwork includes filling out forms, writing status updates, …

Is Your Co-worker Always Late For Work?

You've started the workday, but where is your co-worker? Oh, she's running late again, just like yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that. Let's get an early start on solving her tardiness problem, shall we? Working with someone who is consistently late is one of the most annoying aspects of office life, and also one of the most common, unfortunately. It's a universal theme of the workplace that everyone will get to work on time (give or take a few minutes...) except for the employee who is egregiously late nearly every day. And the excuses can get pretty amazing. Employees became more punctual as the Great Recession lingered, at least according to surveys. Everyone, that is, except for your able-bodied but habitually-tardy co-worker. It's bad enough dealing with tardiness when you're a manager, but it can be even more frustrating when you're a rank-and-file peer without any magical "shape up or ship out" managerial powers. So you…