Snakes in Suits: Summary Review

This is a summary review of Snakes in Suits containing key details about the book.

What is Snakes in Suits About?

"Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work" by Paul Babiak and Robert D. Hare is a book that explores the phenomenon of psychopathy in the workplace.

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Snakes in Suits covers the nature of psychopaths in the context of employment and purports to explain how psychopaths manipulate their way into work and get promoted, the effects of their presence on colleagues and corporations, and the superficial similarities (and fundamental differences) between leadership skills and psychopathic traits. The work is interlaced with fictional narratives illustrating how the factual content applies to real-life situations.

Summary Points & Takeaways from Snakes in Suits

Some key summary points and takeaways from the book include:

* Psychopaths can be successful in the workplace: The authors argue that psychopaths can be successful in the workplace due to their charisma, charm, and ability to manipulate others.

* Psychopaths are often not detected: The authors claim that psychopaths can be difficult to detect because they often present themselves as charming and intelligent, and can manipulate others to gain their trust.

* Psychopaths can have a negative impact on the workplace: The authors argue that psychopaths can have a negative impact on the workplace by creating conflict, spreading rumors, and exploiting others for their own benefit.

* Organizational culture can attract psychopaths: The authors claim that organizations that value power, success, and control can attract psychopaths, who are drawn to these environments where they can easily manipulate others.

* There are warning signs of psychopathy: The authors provide a list of warning signs that individuals may be psychopathic, including lack of empathy, superficial charm, impulsiveness, and a tendency to manipulate others.

* Organizations can protect themselves from psychopaths: The authors provide recommendations for organizations to protect themselves from the negative impact of psychopaths, including developing effective screening processes, fostering a positive organizational culture, and creating systems to identify and address unethical behavior.

* Overall, "Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work" provides a valuable insight into the phenomenon of psychopathy in the workplace and the potential impact that psychopaths can have on organizations.

* The authors provide a comprehensive understanding of psychopathy and the steps that organizations can take to protect themselves from its negative effects.

Who is the author of Snakes in Suits?

Robert D. Hare CM is a Canadian forensic psychologist, known for his research in the field of criminal psychology. He is a professor emeritus of the University of British Columbia, where his studies center on psychopathology and psychophysiology.

Snakes in Suits Summary Notes

Summary Note: Understanding Psychopathy Beyond the Stereotype of Violent Killers

The term “psychopath” is often associated with the image of a violent killer, popularized in movies and TV shows. However, this stereotype does not accurately reflect the complexity of the personality disorder that is psychopathy. While psychopaths are more prone to violence and criminality than the general population, not all psychopaths are violent criminals. In fact, psychopathy is a complicated and difficult disorder to diagnose.

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The Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R) is a diagnostic tool used to identify psychopathic behavior. It identifies abnormalities in four domains of personality. In the interpersonal domain, psychopaths are superficial, deceitful, and grandiose. In the emotional domain, they lack empathy, remorse, and responsibility for their actions. In the lifestyle domain, they tend to lack goals and act irresponsibly and impulsively. In the antisocial domain, they typically have a history of lacking behavioral control.

While these traits may paint a picture of a remorseless predator, readers should not jump to conclusions about themselves or others based on these criteria. Only qualified professionals can diagnose psychopathy, and even normal people may exhibit some of these traits.

It's important to recognize that psychopaths make up only one percent of the general population but are responsible for over half of serious and violent crimes. Their violence is typically a means to an end and lacks an emotional component. By understanding the complexity of psychopathy beyond the stereotype of violent killers, we can better identify and address this disorder in society.

Summary Note: The Art of Psychopathic Manipulation

Psychopaths are not just violent criminals; they can be found in all walks of life, including the workplace, and can be incredibly adept at manipulating people for their own gain. The key to their success lies in their ability to identify their victims' weaknesses and use them to their advantage. They often go through a three-stage process, starting with assessing their victims' utility and weak spots, moving on to manipulating them by changing their personality to suit the situation and extracting what they want, and finally abandoning them once they are no longer useful.

Psychopaths are skilled at reading people and can identify their emotional hot buttons with ease. They can quickly make up stories and lies to strengthen the bond with their victims and manage the impression they make on others. They are chameleons, changing their color to snare a fly. Victims are often left in emotional turmoil when the psychopath abruptly cuts off contact, but psychopaths do not feel regret or remorse over this action. In fact, they do not feel any emotion at all. Brain imaging experiments have shown that psychopaths' brains do not react to emotional material like the brains of normal people. They know that other people have emotions, but they neither feel nor appreciate them themselves.

It is important to note that anyone can become a victim of a psychopath. They can be incredibly charming, convincing, and persuasive, which can make it difficult to recognize their true nature. However, there are warning signs to watch out for, such as grandiosity, lack of empathy, impulsivity, and superficial charm. If you suspect that you are dealing with a psychopath, it is important to protect yourself by setting boundaries, seeking professional help, and avoiding engaging with them. Remember that psychopaths are predators, and you are their prey.

Summary Note: Psychopaths in Suits: How Corporate Psychopaths Can Destroy Companies

One of the main themes in the book is the danger of corporate psychopaths and how they can infiltrate companies, wreaking havoc on both employees and the business itself. Psychopaths are often drawn to affinity groups and corporations because these groups are built on trust, which they can take advantage of to manipulate their victims. While most psychopaths wind up in prison, corporate psychopaths are those who are skilled at avoiding detection and manipulating others to their advantage.

Corporate psychopaths can pose a serious threat to companies because they do not care about the goals, rules, or regulations of the organization. Their grandiose, risk-taking nature can lead to erratic decision-making and law-breaking, putting the entire company at risk. Additionally, their abusive behavior towards employees can increase turnover and lead to the loss of talented, motivated workers.

The danger of corporate psychopaths lies in their ability to lie and charm their way into companies. As pathological liars, they can create impressive resumes and concoct stories to suit the role they are applying for. Their charm can also be used to their advantage during the interview process, allowing them to manipulate the interviewer and secure the position.

It is essential for companies to be aware of the danger that corporate psychopaths pose and to take measures to prevent them from infiltrating their organization. This can include implementing objective selection processes, monitoring employees for abusive behavior, and creating a company culture that values honesty and integrity. By doing so, companies can protect themselves and their employees from the damaging effects of corporate psychopaths.

Summary Note: How psychopaths assess and manipulate coworkers in organizations

The main idea here is that psychopaths use their charm and manipulation skills to assess the utility of their coworkers in organizations, with the ultimate goal of identifying and bonding with pawns and patrons who can provide them with useful resources. Psychopaths are adept at identifying those who have informal power in an organization, such as well-liked and influential individuals, and use their charm and charisma to convince them that they are trusted companions. Once these pawns are convinced of their loyalty to the psychopath, they become difficult to convince otherwise and continue to support them despite evidence of their wrongdoings.

In addition to pawns, psychopaths also target high-level executives, who may have had limited interaction with them but are impressed by their performance in those few interactions. These executives become patrons, fast-tracking the psychopath's career and protecting them from detractors. However, ultimately, the psychopath is likely to depose the patron and use their organizational influence to promote and protect themselves.

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The consequences of psychopaths manipulating their coworkers can be disastrous for organizations, as their grandiose risk-taking nature and disregard for rules can lead to erratic strategic choices and even law-breaking, putting the entire company in jeopardy. Employing corporate psychopaths can also increase employee churn, as motivated and talented employees leave due to their abusive behavior.

It is important for organizations to be aware of the potential for psychopaths to manipulate their coworkers and to have measures in place to detect and remove them from the company. This may involve developing objective selection processes and regularly monitoring employee behavior for signs of abusive or manipulative behavior. By doing so, organizations can protect themselves from the damaging effects of psychopathic coworkers and foster a healthy and productive workplace culture.

Summary Note: Psychopaths in the Workplace: Understanding Their Manipulative Tactics and Impact on the Organization

One of the main themes in the book is the tactics psychopaths use to manipulate and control those around them in the workplace, and the organizational environment that either enables or hinders them. Psychopaths in the workplace are skilled at identifying pawns and patrons who can provide them with useful resources such as money, information, and influence. They also target those with informal power, such as well-liked colleagues whose opinions are valued, and bond with them to spread rumors and gather information.

Psychopaths are also aware of low-utility observers who have no value to offer and tend to ignore them. However, these observers are often in an objective position to observe the manipulative tactics of psychopaths and may realize that they are being manipulated. Unfortunately, they may fear speaking up due to the psychopath's or their patron's influence.

Psychopaths also face challenges in discarding pawns easily once their utility is depleted, as sudden shunning and abandonment are more obvious in a shared work environment. As a result, pawns may confront the psychopath or bring the matter to management. However, the psychopath has already spread false rumors to undermine the pawn's credibility, making it difficult for them to be taken seriously.

Furthermore, the organizational environment either enables or hinders the psychopath. For instance, the organizational police, such as the Human Resources department or Security, pose a threat to psychopaths as they are adept at spotting fraudsters. However, they may lack the necessary management support to take action against the psychopath, especially when they have supporters in upper-management positions.

Summary Note: Preventing Psychopaths from Entering the Organization

The author emphasizes the importance of preventing psychopaths from entering an organization. While detecting psychopaths during an interview is not an easy task, interviewers can use various methods to prevent them from being hired. Interviewers must make a plan of the topics they want to cover, and stick to it, to avoid psychopaths avoiding inconvenient questions or changing the topic to something more beneficial to them. Additionally, they should never settle for vague answers and should always ask for work samples to ensure that the candidate has the technical expertise required for the role. Interviewers should take notes during the interview and compare them with other interviewers' notes to spot discrepancies in the candidate's responses.

Furthermore, reference checks and background checks on the internet can help in uncovering fraudulent applicants. It is crucial to ensure that candidates have the technical skills required for the job, and also to identify any red flags, such as their inability to form a team. If a candidate consistently fails to form a team, it could be a sign of a psychopath's unwillingness to share credit or accept blame.

Preventing psychopaths from entering an organization is critical since they can cause immense harm to the company, its employees, and its customers. Therefore, interviewers and organizations must take extra precautions to avoid hiring psychopaths, including looking for red flags during the hiring process, conducting reference checks, and analyzing candidates' behavior during team activities. Ultimately, taking these steps can help organizations protect themselves from harm caused by psychopaths.

Summary Note: Defending Yourself Against Psychopaths

The main theme in "Snakes in Suits" is how to defend yourself against psychopaths, who can be manipulative, charming, and emotionally draining. To prepare yourself, it's important to know your enemy by learning about psychopathy and understanding the traits of a psychopath. However, it's crucial to avoid diagnosing people around you based on a few traits as it takes a qualified professional to make such judgments.

Additionally, understanding yourself is crucial in defending against psychopaths. Identify your weaknesses, likes, and emotional triggers. Psychopaths are skilled at reading people and will exploit these vulnerabilities to manipulate you. For example, if you are insecure about your looks and always respond positively to compliments, a psychopath may use flattery to build rapport and extract favors.

Furthermore, it's essential to recognize how you might be useful to a psychopath. Do you possess resources or wield power in a group? Psychopaths may target individuals who have experienced significant losses, such as hurricane victims, regardless of their wealth or social status.

Finally, it's vital to avoid getting sucked into the psychopath's game. Psychopaths can be highly charming and create a sense of bonding quickly, but it's important to think critically about their behavior and the plausibility of their stories. However, this can be challenging, as even trained professionals can fall victim to psychopaths' manipulation.

Summary Note: Navigating Corporate Psychopaths: Tips for Dealing with Workplace Challenges

One of the main themes in the book is how to defend yourself when dealing with psychopaths in the workplace. Psychopaths can be emotionally draining and manipulative, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself.

First, it's important to understand the traits of a psychopath and not diagnose people around you based on a few traits. Knowing your enemy is crucial in identifying their manipulative tactics. You should also be aware of your own weaknesses and emotional triggers, as psychopaths are skilled at exploiting them.

In a corporate setting, building a good reputation as a high performer can help counter any rumors spread by a psychopathic boss or coworker. Familiarizing yourself with your company's formal processes and procedures, such as filing formal complaints, can also be beneficial. Keeping a record of work assignments and feedback in writing can help ensure mutual understanding and protect yourself from manipulation.

Avoiding confrontations and staying calm is crucial when dealing with psychopaths. They may deliberately try to push your buttons to make you react negatively, so maintaining composure and defending your decisions with reason and facts is important.

If necessary, leaving the company on your own terms may be the best option when dealing with a psychopathic boss. It's important to obtain references from various sources within the company and not burn any bridges on your way out.

Book details

  • Print length: 352 pages
  • Genre: Psychology, Nonfiction, Business

What is a good quote from Snakes in Suits?

Top Quote: “The most debilitating characteristic of even the most well-behaved psychopath is the inability to form a workable team.” (Meaning) - Snakes in Suits Quotes, Paul Babiak and Robert D. Hare

* The editor of this summary review made every effort to maintain information accuracy, including any published quotes, chapters, or takeaways. If you want to enhance your personal growth, I recommend checking out my list of favorite personal growth books. These books have played a significant role in my life, and each one includes a summary and takeaways to help you apply the concepts.

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Chief Editor

Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.

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