Yes, your boss really could be a psychopath
One in five corporate executives are psychopaths, a new study finds. Learn the skills to deal with this type of boss, for the sake of your own sanity.
Research may have just confirmed what you’ve long suspected—that your boss is, in fact, crazy. Cool, now you're googling "How to deal with a psychopath boss," which is not exactly a great use of your time, but oh well.
The Telegraph reported 21% of corporate executives had clinically significant levels of psychopathic traits, or a severe form of antisocial personality disorder—roughly the same rate as that among prisoners—according to a Bond University study of 261 senior professionals in the U.S.
The rate of psychopathy in the general population is about one in 100, just to put that data in perspective.
Characterized by impulsive and irresponsible behavior, some signs of antisocial personality disorder include manipulation, deceit, an inability to control anger, blaming others for problems and lack of concern, regret, remorse or guilt, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Sound like someone you know? Monster asked Lynn Taylor, a workplace expert and author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How To Manage Childish Boss Behavior And Thrive In Your Job, how to deal with a psychopath boss.
Just how crazy is your boss?
First, Taylor says, you need to evaluate the situation.
“If you’re losing sleep, dread going a toxic workplace, or in the worst case, are jeopardizing your career by supporting poor leadership, you may be wise to move on,” she says.
You can also reach out to your co-workers for support. Chances are, you’re not the only one who’s noticed your boss is a bit of a nut.
“It can give you greater confidence to approach a terrible boss if you know you’re not alone,” Taylor says. “Talk to a few trusted, discreet colleagues about your situation off the clock. If you have a mentor, this is a good time to reach out for guidance.”
However, if you like your job otherwise, you can stay and work through it—but you’ll need to develop certain skills to deal with your boss’s loony behavior. Taylor says to employ the acronym C.A.L.M.:
Communicate honestly, openly, and regularly. Miscommunication can bring out the worst in a bad boss. For example, instead of challenging your manager, Taylor says you can use positive bookends. Start a difficult conversation with your boss by saying, "I really enjoy working here.” At the end of the conversation, thank your boss for taking the time to listen.
Anticipate problems before they worsen, and have solutions—not questions—for your manager.
Levity is a helpful way to break the tension when squabbles arise and helps your boss realize that you're in this together. Just make sure it’s used when infractions are minor—you don’t want to make light of any egregious actions.
Manage up by learning how to use positive and negative reinforcement, set limits and role model the behavior you want to see in your boss. Taylor says this is a very portable skill—helpful for most any job, even if your boss’s personality falls within the normal bell curve.
Lastly, know your worth as an employee.
“Most employees have more leverage than they realize,” Taylor says. “Remembering that fact will be liberating, help empower you to manage up with a difficult boss and boost your future career prospects.”
Learning how to deal with a psychopath boss takes some special skills. Another way to deal? Jump ship. Need help taking the first step? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you can get job alerts sent directly to your inbox to cut down on time spent looking through ads.