A big thanks to @UNISONNews for sending me this link to a TED talk by Clive Boddy about Bullying and Corporate Psycopaths. His statistics are interesting, but there is an inherent danger in identifying corporate psychopaths at work. And it might not be what you expect.
Labelling your bully can be rewarding, but only up to a point. Attributing the psychopath label can be a bit academic. If you’re being tormented at work for 8 hours a day, whether you're working with a psychopath, sociopath or someone who sits somewhere on an autistic spectrum is pretty irrelevant. At first, having read a number of on-line articles, I believed my bully to be a sociopath. Later, I wondered whether he might be on the Asperger's spectrum. Later, I realised the arrogance of this. I diagnosed someone I hardly knew, with a complete lack of medical or psychological training.
Labelling people is easy to do, but much less easy to prove. Clive Boddy points out in the TED talk, “Psychopaths have absolutely no conscience”. But how on earth do we know for sure that someone has absolutely no conscience? We often don’t see these people outside the work environment, let alone have a glimpse into their psyche.
We’re often encouraged to diagnose our bullying colleagues, but as I point out in, Bullied by the Boss (Amazon, 2012):
“Stereotyping and labelling bullies is dangerous because it reinforces the very egocentric bias that allows bullying to happen in the first place. We tell ourselves they are inherently bad people and we are inherently good. Isn’t that the very thinking that [my bully] adopted? He believed he was an all-round better, more worthwhile and valuable person than I was.
Perhaps it's human nature to search for labels in an attempt to undertstand a predicament which is patently unfair and makes no sense. But it's always going to be more helpful to look at what we can do to get out of a situation, rather than put our faith in any diagnosis from Dr Google.