What Empaths Need To Know About Workplace Psychopaths

If you’re reading this right now, chances are you’re an Empath. But what is that exactly? To answer that question, it’s useful to first consider the definition of a psychopath.

The foremost authority on psychopaths is Dr Robert Hare, a Canadian psychologist who developed the now famous Hare Psychopathy Checklist, first released in 1980.

The checklist is comprised of 20 items divided into four facets: Interpersonal, affective (emotional), lifestyle and antisocial. Each of these 20 traits is scored on a 0 to 2 scale: 0 = not present, 1 = present but not dominant and 2 = dominant.

The average person scores between 3 and 6. Non-psychopathic criminals (can be found in prisons) score between 16 and 22. A card-carrying psychopath on the other hand has a total score of over 30. The different facets comprise the following items as follows:

1. Interpersonal

  • Glibness or superficial charm
  • Grandiose self-worth
  • Pathological lying
  • Cunning or manipulative

2. Affective (Emotional)

  • Lack of remorse or guilt
  • Emotionally shallow
  • Lack of empathy / callousness
  • Failure to accept responsibility for own actions

3. Lifestyle

  • Need for stimulation (easily bored)
  • Parasitic lifestyle
  • Lack of realistic, long-term goals
  • Impulsivity 
  • Irresponsibility 

4. Antisocial

  • Poor behavioural control
  • Early behaviour problems (eg, cruelty to animals, vandalism)
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • A history with conditional release from prison revoked
  • Criminal versatility (dodgy dealings, often in the financial arena)

It’s worth noting that most psychopaths aren’t in prison, they live among us. According to Kevin Dutton’s research, the most psychopathic profession is CEO and it turns out, one in five CEOs are psychopaths!

So it’s very likely, especially if you work in an organisation, that you’ve encountered more than one during your career. And no, you’re not to blame! You don’t “attract” them, they’re there and they cross your path. You were just unlucky to have a run-in with one.

Now let’s go back to the definition of Empath. According to David Gillespie, author of “Taming Toxic People: The Science Of Identifying And Dealing With Psychopaths,” he sees the world as being divided into two types of people: Empaths and psychopaths. He believes most normal people are Empaths, since we’re hard wired as human beings to be social animals. I would add that Empaths have the following characteristics:

  1. Empaths have a conscience
  2. Empaths are conscientious – ie, you’re good at what you do
  3. Empaths are caring and tender-hearted
  4. Empaths feel for and with, others. A highly developed sense of emotional attunement to another takes you into the paranormal/psychic realm – with some of us being able to accurately “know” things that lie beyond the five senses
  5. Empaths are popular
  6. Empaths, being sensitive to emotions and energies, are often introverted and can easily feel overwhelmed by too many people in their personal space

The three mistakes that Empaths most commonly make when dealing with a psychopath are as follows:

Mistake #1: A misguided or naive belief that everyone shares the same fundamental values as them. Empaths are incredulous to discover when someone they know is completely lacking in empathy – it doesn’t compute

Mistake #2: Giving the psychopath the benefit of the doubt as a result of the aforementioned belief

Mistake #3: Doubting oneself instead of doubting the psychopath which in turns leads to a massive loss of self-confidence and if tolerated for long enough, a significant decline in mental health.

The problem is, even a highly intuitive Empath may not always recognise a psychopath. Again, there is no blame in this lack of recognition and it’s important not to give yourself a hard time over it. The reason your instincts don’t register the presence of a psychopath is because of your position relative to this person. There are three possible positions, two of which obscure the fact you’re dealing with a psychopath:

1. You’re useful to the psychopath. In this scenario, you have something the psychopath wants and will therefore be in the direct path of his charm-offensive. You are likely to be dazzled and charmed by this person, at least for a while anyway. As soon as he gets what he wants, you’ll be discarded or worse, destroyed, which may come as quite a shock, especially when you discover the person is not what he advertised himself to be. This position is arguably the worst position to be in, despite the first appearances of being favoured (eg, by your narcissistic boss). 

2. You’re obstructive to the psychopath. In this scenario, you’re obstructing the path for the psychopath to get what he wants. As a result, you may be demeaned, manipulated, humiliated and treated cruelly. You’re a threat and as such, you’re likely to be white-anted. It may be the case that as a competent and popular employee, you threaten the psychopath’s chances for a promotion or pay rise. You don’t at first notice the abnormal behaviour because it happens subtly, over time, but you tell yourself “he’s just having a bad day.”

3. You’re irrelevant to the psychopath. In this scenario, you’re a person of absolutely no importance. This is the best position of all to be in! You’re flying under the radar and are in a position to observe the dodgy dealings and creepy behaviour of this person. Chances are, your intuition will be on high alert, your flesh will crawl and you’re the only one in the position to warn others to WATCH OUT!

If you can relate to what I’ve written here, but need more insight into what’s going on at work, the best place to start is to download my FREE guide, the: ” Red Flags Your Work Stress Isn’t Your Fault – You May Be Working For A Closet Narcissist” here.

Then, when you’ve downloaded and read your free guide, I invite you to receive the support and help you need from your fellow empaths in my Facebook group: “Empaths At Work.”

Let’s continue the conversation there – I’m looking forward to meeting you and giving you the encouragement you need to deal with the work stress from dealing with psychopaths and workplace bullies on a daily basis.

2 thoughts on “What Empaths Need To Know About Workplace Psychopaths”

  1. The person who I am trying to deal with is not my boss but acts as if she is she has a lot of management influences. I don’t like to report anyone but she does and then blames me for it she’s been getting away with calling me names with new people she tells them to mind what they say around me . I have only just started to find out that everyone feels she isn’t a nice person but I would like to know how I can stop her doing what she does without me being the same way she is with me ?

    1. Dr Sophie Henshaw

      Carol, that’s a great question! Join us over at my “Empaths At Work” Facebook group and please copy and paste this question! There are a number of us who will help answer your question.

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