Andrew Faas, a former senior executive with Canada's two largest retail organizations, found this out the hard way when he blew the whistle on a corrupt colleague, and subsequently had his phone and email hacked, and even received an anonymous death threat.
To help prevent others from enduring the same psychological and physical consequences that he suffered, Faas says in his new book, "The Bully's Trap," that any worker being hired or promoted in a supervisory position should be required to take a psychological test.
"It's not an uncommon metric but, unfortunately, too many people don't utilize it to the extent they should," Faas says.
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A psychopath may not show all the signs, but they will likely demonstrate at least some of them, Faas says.
Here are nine signs that one of your coworkers may be a psychopath:
They have sadistic motives and intents
"I think the most telling sign is their sadistic nature," Faas says.
A psychopath motivates others through fear, rather than respect, he explains, and they intend to destroy, rather than correct.
This one characteristic is what separates psychopaths from a boss or coworker who is simply "firm," he says.
"I've led and managed workforces that are in the thousands, and I've always been and still am a very demanding leader, but I motivate through respect because I want people to improve," Faas says.
They're glib and constantly turn on the superficial charm
Psychopaths are masters at presenting themselves well.
They are great conversationalists who can easily sprinkle chit-chat with witty comebacks and "unlikely but convincing" stories that make them look good, writes Hare in a post on PsychologyToday.com.
Confronted with such charm, you may believe the psychopath is a decent — delightful, even — person by the end of the conversation.
Hare writes that one of his raters once interviewed a male prisoner who threw in some compliments about her appearance, and by the end of the interview she felt unusually pretty.
"When I got back outside, I couldn't believe I'd fallen for a line like that," she said.
They have a grandiose estimation of self
Much like a parasite, psychopaths see themselves as the center of the universe, writes Hare, onPsychologyToday.com. They are so important in their minds that normal societal rules don't apply to them, Hare writes.
"It's not that I don't follow the law," said one of Hare's subjects. "I follow my own laws. I never violate my own rules."
They're a pathological liar
Maybe there was some truth to "Pinocchio."
Once psychopaths start lying, they can't — and don't want to — stop.
Faas says that bullies have an "intellectual dishonesty that they knowingly revert to."
Unlike normal people, psychopaths don't care if their lie is found out because they can just lie again to cover it up, he says.
They live a parasitic lifestyle
Bullies are single-minded: They only think of themselves and what they want to accomplish — like a parasite.
"They're going to live their life and do and say and behave the way they want to behave without any consideration for others," Faas explains.
He says psychopaths do whatever they want because they have such an inflated sense of self that they don't think the normal rules of life apply to them. "They feel they're immune to any criticism in terms of how they live their lifestyle, including harassing those they have command and control over."
They are cunning and manipulative
Faas likes to say that psychopaths are masters of three things: manipulation, deflection, and deception, all of which help them keep "number one" — themselves — above water.
"They're very apt to accept credit for something when it goes right, but when something goes wrong, they look for a scape goat to deflect it to and take the blame," he says.
They had early behavioral problems
Faas says bullies in the workplace were most likely bullies on the playground.
"They take what they were allowed to do in the school environment and take it with them to the workplace," he explains.
Some of the early behavioral signs include persistent lying, cheating, theft, arson, truancy, substance abuse, vandalism, and/or precocious sexuality, writes Hare.
While many children may display such behaviors, he says that psychopaths will display them more often and to a more serious degree.
They show no remorse or guilt
The psychopathic tendency to not care about the consequences of their actions, no matter how badly they affect others, can be linked to their "remarkable ability to rationalize their behavior," Hare writes on PsychologyToday.com.
While their friends and family may be physically or emotionally hurt by the psychopath's actions, he or she will typically just deflect the blame with excuses or flat-out deny it.
Hare recalls one subject who stabbed someone, yet seemed to feel more sorry for himself. "He spends a few months in hospital, and I rot here," he said.
Their long-term goals are not realistic
Even though psychopaths struggle to accomplish their own grandiose goals for themselves because they are bad planners, Hare writes, they expect others to rise to the occasion.
"Though the task may be impossible to do, psychopaths justify it because, in their limited view, it's a reasonable goal," Faas says.