I worked with a sociopath once. He was a charming Southern good ol’ boy… and he was a bully. Maybe he wasn’t a sociopath in the clinical sense, but he had a lot of the traits: antisocial behavior, diminished empathy, diminished remorse, and disinhibited and bold behavior.

He blamed other people for his mistakes, and didn’t care. He blatantly took credit for other people’s work. He’d keep beating on you until he got what he wanted from you. The only people at the company who liked him were the upper management to whom he reported, because he didn’t show his behavior to them.

I wish I’d known what a colleague of mine, MC Easton, learned from dealing with (more than her fair share of) sociopaths in her life. She has a series of posts on her blog about how to avoid sociopaths, deal with them if you must, and survive them: http://mceaston.wordpress.com/tag/sociopaths/.

With MC’s permission, I’ve pulled out 9 tips from her blog, and my own experience, to help you survive sociopathic coworkers.

9 tips for surviving sociopathic coworkers

  1. Drown them in sugar.
    Give them the admiration their narcissism needs, and assuage their fear of public humiliation. Then find a way to distance yourself from them.
  2. Stare them dead in the… bridge of their nose.
    Survive a stare down by looking at the bridge of their nose. They can’t tell you’re not making eye contact, and you don’t get intimidated by their cold, dead gaze.
  3. Get your needs met elsewhere.
    Find healthy people to hang out with, talk about hopes and dreams with, complain about your bosses with. The more of your needs you have met, the fewer the sociopath can exploit.
  4. Banish doubt and fear.
    If someone invites you to think badly of people, or tries to plant doubt and fear in your mind, find someone you trust to give you perspective.
  5. Beware of Greeks bearing flattery.
    If someone compliments you effusively, repeatedly, thank them graciously. Then be on your guard in case they try to manipulate you.
  6. Think like a sociopath.
    When you’re in a conflict, ask yourself what you’d be thinking if you could set aside your anger and fear. Get a clear perspective on the situation so you know what to do.
  7. Harden your heart and walk away.
    If someone plays on your sympathy or your attachment to them, protect yourself until you can get away.
  8. Be reassured by coworkers’ emotional needs.
    See pushy, irksome, needy people as less of a problem. If they have emotional needs, they aren’t psychopaths, just ordinary human beings like you.
  9. Enjoy being human.
    Those moments of pleasure in your life? The joy of good friends and loved ones? Sociopaths can’t enjoy them. But you can. After using these tips to deal with a sociopath, enrich your life with pleasure and joy.
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