Understanding Sociopathy

Sociopaths On Top: How To Survive Your Boss

The 2019 social events I attended with my boss were a case study in human behavior. Ever since I discovered her sociopathic tendencies, I have tried to limit my interactions with her outside of the office. However, when the situation arises, I try my best to avoid engaging in her antisocial habits.

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But first, how do you spot a sociopath boss? Sociopaths have a dangerous ability to mimic emotion and empathy to manipulate others for their benefit. They come across as charming and charismatic, using intelligence, physical attributes, or pretense to get what they want. When working with this type of boss, it’s essential to trust your instincts. Here are ten ways how you can survive.

  1. Keep Things Confidential

Not only is it an ethical practice, but it is also a necessary habit when working with sociopaths. Divulging personal information can hurt you in the long run, especially since these bosses tend to pass judgment and use that knowledge to their favor. Don’t let them know anything that they can use against you, including past relationships, onward plans, and biggest desires.

2. Record Meetings And Conversations (With Consent)

Even when the job doesn’t require you, documenting minutes of the meeting or writing discussion notes is crucial when the boss tries to change facts. Sociopaths would not take the blame for misdeeds because they would rather lie and shift responsibility if it doesn’t make them look good.

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3. Find Out What They Like

Some sociopaths display narcissistic behaviors, which others consider to be weaknesses. They talk a lot about their lives, jobs, and even relationships as if those are the only things that matter. Rather than compete for attention, indulge your boss in such conversations to learn more about them and how they think.

4. Look For Validation Elsewhere

Sometimes, employees are also guilty of indulging the narcissist boss to avoid arguments, although that can present a problem. Because they become so wrapped up in their heads and fail to put themselves in other people’s shoes, it affects work performance. It’s rare to hear the sociopath boss give a compliment because to them; they did half the job by hiring you and therefore, should take the credit.

5. Become A Work Ally

Keeping things professional with a sociopath boss will guarantee your survival. If you want to maintain some distance between you and your boss, cooperate as long as it gets the job done. Avoid falling victim to their unethical habits of spreading malicious gossip or bad-mouthing colleagues. Look for healthier relationships with co-workers outside your circle, so you don’t get absorbed in their toxic behavior.

6. Avoid 1-On-1 Scenarios

Sociopaths generally operate individually and thrive when they hold the upper hand. Having a boss that likes closed-door meetings is a sign of distrust in the workplace. Keep away from situations where you have no witnesses because sociopaths are prone to afflicting aggression, emotional abuse, and bullying.

7. Learn To Cope With Stress

Aside from work-related pressures, you are more prone to verbal harassment when you work with a sociopath boss. It’s normal to commit errors, but to be continuously scolded for a mistake is abusive behavior. Whether it’s hanging out with friends, exercising at the gym, or engaging in outdoor activities, it’s crucial to have an effective coping mechanism to stay sane.

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8. Face Criticism With Resilience

The sociopath boss believes they’re excellent and therefore imposes a higher standard than most. They criticize harshly and embrace adversity, which means they don’t avoid chaos; instead, they invite it. Whenever this happens, it’s essential to keep a cool head and not let negative comments hurt you personally. Remember that how the boss responds to a situation says more about them than it does about you.

9. Trust The Idea, Not The Person

Some bosses are indeed intelligent, and they are excellent assets to the company because of their ideas. However, it’s dangerous to tie the initiative to a person without considering the contribution of other team members. Sociopaths tend to exaggerate their achievements to amplify their egos, so stick to the facts and ignore the comments.

10. Leave When You Are Ready

It’s rare for the sociopath boss to step down for reasons where they do not benefit. The only way to bring down a sociopath on top is to rise above them, even when it means moving to another team or company, so you no longer need to deal with them.

Some of these tips may sound challenging because working for a sociopath boss can be exhausting. You will be prone to experiencing anxiety, fatigue, and complicated feelings because of outrageous demands. When you feel that it’s no longer within your control, try to seek help from the company’s human resources officer or a trusted workplace counselor. Whichever way you decide to cope, always choose what’s healthy for you.