52 Books a Year: #34 - Snakes In Suits

Posted by Brian Mon, 14 Dec 2009 18:36:25 GMT

Snakes In Suits: When Psychopaths Go To Work
By Paul Babiak


Do you think you have psychopath in the workplace? What should you do about it? Do you even really no what a psychopath is? What about a sociopath? What is the difference between the two? These are the questions that Paul Babiak attempts to answer in Snakes In Suits.

A thorough and cautious approach is taken throughout the book, with the author reminding the reader on a regular basis not blindly label co-workers as psychopaths. He also describes the clinical differences between a diagnosis of psychopathy and one of sociopathy, along with a description of the clinical tools used to diagnose each.

The brunt of the book of the book deals with identifying psychopaths in the workplace and the facade they will create to different workers, depending on that workers level of power and influence. He or she may present themselves as a hard worker who simply needs some help to those they can get to do their work for them while taking all of the credit. They may present themselves as an ambitious go-getter with innovative ideas to a superior, presenting the work other co-workers did for them as their own. Those who cannot be used will usually be ignored and/or abused, giving them the only true view of the psychopath, but no power or influence to stop them.

He also weaves a sample story between every chapter that describes the rise of a psychopath in a company and how we manages to eliminate those who suspect him by stealing work and sucking up in a charismatic manner at the highest levels. Babiak isn’t the most talented writer in this respect, but it does serve to break the book up, with every other chapter serving as a mini-application of what was just discussed.

As a programmer, I don’t see this as much of a problem in my job. A rigorous technical interview will easily weed these people out. Also, they tend to focus more on jobs that rely more on soft skills. This makes it easier to bullshit themselves to the top. Babiak can be a little repetitive at times, but this is an excellent read that gives insight into how the current corporate structure encourages opens the door to manipulation by a charismatic psychopath. Pick it up.


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