Snakes in Suits | Paul Babiak

Summary of: Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work
By: Paul Babiak


In ‘Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work’, Paul Babiak unveils the chilling reality of psychopaths infiltrating the corporate world. Babiak dissects the psychopathic personality, their manipulative tactics, and the damage they inflict on individuals and organizations. Get ready to delve into the frightening truth behind their charm and deceit, learn how psychopaths target their victims, and understand their three-stage manipulation process. The book also examines the red flags of corporate psychopaths, the challenges they present to organizations, and offers strategies to protect yourself and your company from their destructive influence.

Understanding Psychopathy

Psychopaths are not just violent criminals as depicted by Hollywood. One percent of the general population has psychopathy, and they tend to be more violent and prone to criminality. However, the definition and diagnosis of psychopathy are complicated, and not all psychopaths are violent criminals. Psychopathic behavior is exhibited as abnormalities in four domains of personality: interpersonal, emotional, lifestyle, and antisocial. These traits depict remorseless, impulsive predators who take what they want and care little for the rules of society. However, only qualified professionals can make such diagnoses, and even perfectly normal people may exhibit several of these traits.

The Psychopath’s Three-Stage Process

Psychopaths use an expert three-stage process to manipulate their victims, evaluating their utility, manipulating them with a fictitious personality, and finally discarding them without remorse.

Psychopaths are not easy to identify, and most people who encounter one do not even realize that they are dealing with a dangerous individual until it’s too late. Psychopaths use a cunning three-stage process to evaluate, manipulate, and discard their victims.

In the first stage, the psychopath assesses their victim’s utility to them and identifies their weaknesses and emotional hot buttons. Psychopaths have a unique ability to read people, and they use this skill to identify victims that can provide them with money, power, sex, recognition, and other things.

The second stage of the process involves manipulation. Psychopaths re-invent themselves by changing their personality into a fictitious character to gain the victim’s trust. They are pathological liars who can quickly fabricate stories to strengthen the bond with their victims. They are incredibly adept at managing the impressions they make on others and changing their apparent personality to suit any situation. A chameleon changing its color to snare a fly seems an apt analogy.

In the final phase, the psychopath abruptly discards the victim when they are no longer useful to them. Victims are often left in emotional turmoil, shocked at the betrayal of a supposedly close friend or lover. Psychopaths do not feel regret or remorse over this action like normal people. In fact, they don’t feel any emotion at all. Brain imaging experiments have shown that psychopaths’ brains do not react to emotional material like the brains of normal people. They know that other people have things called emotions, but they neither feel nor appreciate them themselves.

The three-stage process a psychopath uses to manipulate their victims is subtle, complex, and incredibly effective. It is important to learn how to identify these individuals before it is too late.

Corporate Psychopaths

Companies are vulnerable to corporate psychopaths who are skilled in using their charm and deceit to manipulate those around them. These individuals can infiltrate organizations and cause irreparable damage through their abusive behavior and erratic decision making. Affinity groups and big companies are at the highest risk of being targeted by psychopaths who violate the trust and abuse the power bestowed upon them. As they don’t fit well in a team and have no interest in the company’s goals, psychopaths are usually quickly spotted and ousted. But, corporate psychopaths are more self-controlled and can manipulate their coworkers, management systems, and thrive in companies. Employing such individuals can lead to employee churn, erratic strategic choices, and even law-breaking, putting the entire company at risk. The key to infiltrating companies is lies and charm that can create an intriguing resume and convince interviewers.

The Psychopath’s Strategy

Psychopaths assess and charm coworkers for their own gain, targeting those with informal power and seeking out patrons to climb the corporate ladder.

When psychopaths enter a company, they begin to analyze the value of everyone they meet. With the expectation that new employees actively seek out their colleagues, psychopaths can easily evaluate coworkers, bosses, and support staff. They can then use their charm to win over people who will provide them with useful resources such as money, information, expertise, and influence. Psychopaths often target those with informal power, those who are well-liked and whose opinions are valued. They can even use the bond they build with technically proficient coworkers to manipulate them into doing their own work.

Apart from pawns, psychopaths also seek out patrons. These are high-level executives who haven’t interacted with the psychopath much but are impressed by their charisma. Patrons can fast-track the psychopath’s career and protect them from detractors, but they can also be quickly deposed by the psychopath, who has used their organizational influence to promote and protect themselves. Psychopaths use their charm, charisma, and ability to change their personality to convince their pawns that they are trustworthy companions whose interests align. Ultimately, the pawns become enamored and loyal, unwilling to believe anyone who speaks ill of the psychopath.

Psychopaths in Companies

Psychopaths categorize employees as either pawns or patrons. They also identify certain employees as low-utility observers who they ignore, but who can objectively observe the psychopath. As a result, these employees often notice the manipulation, but fear speaking out because of the psychopath’s or his patron’s power. Organizational police like Human Resources or Security are a threat to psychopaths as they can identify fraudsters. However, they often lack upper-management support to take action. Corporate psychopaths also find it challenging to discard pawns once their use has expired because doing so is too obvious. When pawns finally confront their former “friend” or bring the matter to management, psychopaths spread false rumors to discredit them, making it hard for them to gain support. This situation often leads to the firing of the pawn instead of the psychopath.

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