By: Angela Johnson
I have had many different bosses but nothing really compared to this one job. Even from the initial interview I felt as if something was not right, she was too eager and very excited for me to start immediately. Even that first week there, the red flags started to pop up and within days my boss transformed from overenthusiastic and cheerful to combative and unpredictably hostile: firing two people within days of my start date. She reassured me that I was doing a good job and these employees were just not the "right fit" for the job. It went that way for an entire year of employment; my colleagues were constantly in fear for their jobs as her fits of rage touched each employee that worked there, continuously threatening by stating that she would fire everybody there and replace them with people who would be completely "loyal" to her. Within one year she had a total of fourteen employees that were fired, forced into retirement, or quit on their own accord. Looking back through this experience, I began to research behavior patterns and discovered that her behavior followed what psychology would define as sociopathic behavior, otherwise known as Antisocial Personality Disorder and I learned that this disorder does not just define serial killers, but also those who are in your everyday life who seem to be outwardly normal and law abiding citizens. These are regular people who are deceptively charming, highly intelligent, but take pleasure in the complete control and manipulation of others. According to The Mayo Clinic, here are a few things that you can watch for in a person who might have Antisocial Personality Disorder or sociopaths:
1. They use charm and charisma to manipulate others
Although my boss was quick to fire employees at the drop of the hat, she was also very good at playing the "nice person" card. She visited colleagues in the hospital, sent cards to those who lost a loved one, and every month she would bake a cake to show her appreciation of her staff. Additionally, she would complement some of her staff's hard work and even award certificates of appreciation for the employee of the month. She was incredibly charming, until you did not agree with her idea of "loyalty"- then that was it- you were out without question.
2. They thrive on the intimidation of others
This is a given for all bosses, granted all employers have the power to fire or hire anyone for any reason. However, when a boss uses that power to intimidate to the point where all the employees are constantly in fear- then it is another thing altogether. It is important to understand that at the center of the sociopath's universe is the feeling of complete control in their lives and intimidation is usually the best tool to make this happen. Control is the sociopath's absolute need and will do whatever necessary to keep the feeling of complete power over a group - at all costs necessary.
3. They have lack of remorse or guilt about harming others
Often an employer may fire employees for valid reasons like tardiness or subordination, but when the boss terminates to initiate a self-initiated agenda however it is the aftermath that tells the story. A person affected with Antisocial Personality Disorder will even display caring about that person that he or she "had no other choice but to let them go" but when multiple people are fired for insignificant reasons, one right after the other- then this is a red flag that the boss is without remorse. My boss once even fired someone for not approving of a shirt that an employee was wearing at work - without giving that employee a second chance. The following day she started another employee immediately in that former employee's place without explanation to others as if the former employee never existed in the first place.
4. Erratic and Impulsive behavior
This is self-explanatory, when you have no idea of what is going to happen next: the boss is happy one minute and screaming the next minute for no apparent and logical reason. These frequent occurring mood swings often incite emotional chaos in a work environment and cause employees to focus on the boss's erratic behavior rather than the work that they are required to do.
5. They have a complete lack of morals
To a sociopath, the only right is their own perception, even if caught stealing. Should you even confront this person with their deception then they will respond with extreme hostility while making elaborate reasons to describe what they were caught doing. In truth, a sociopath lacks a moral compass and truly feels that whatever wrong that they caused was completely appropriate regardless of the circumstances behind their deception
6. They tend to shirk their work responsibilities to others
It is important to note that a sociopath is a master manipulator and is an expert in deception, even to the point where they will push off their responsibilities to others while they go about on their own personal business. Underneath it all there is a delusion that he or she is actually giving an "opportunity" for another employee to understand a manager's role while this person is in truth, managing the workload for her.
7. They need followers in their circle
Unless it is not clear that dominance is completely necessary, a sociopath must have "followers" in order to fulfill their self-derived agenda. They will act like their colleagues are their best friends, ask others in the group to spy and report on others, and respond quite well to those corporate "yes men" that agree to everything that the boss says. Should any employee fall away from this following, then they will be "booted out" for not being a "team player".
8. They tell lavish stories that make even the most mundane sound interesting
A hallmark of the sociopath's behavior is the intricate details of their stories that always end with themselves as the center of it all. According to an article "How to spot a sociopath" by Mike Adams: "They wildly exaggerate things to the point of absurdity, but when they describe it to you in a storytelling format, for some reason it sounds believable at the time."
Above all there is no way to please a sociopath except through absolute and complete subordination, after all nothing less will do. Should you elect to not want to be part of this following, then it may be best to find another job and pray that your next boss might be more aligned with "normal" behavioral norms.