Life is too short to put up with toxic people. They sap our energy, drain our passion, and poison our projects. These sociopaths and narcissists create division and drive the good people away from our organisations.
Dr Phil’s book Life Code – New rules for the real world described the following Evil Eight characteristics of the people we’d do well to avoid.
(Headings in bold are Dr Phil’s. The rest are my expansions.)
- Exhibit arrogant entitlement. They are fickle, inconsistent, unreasonably demanding and contemptuous of others. They have a great need to grandiosely brag about their abilities and achievements (fictional or otherwise.) They value visible displays of priviledge and power like the corner office and monogrammed parking spots. They act as if the world owes them their pedestal and all the attendant priviledges.
- Lack empathy. They are unable to truly relate to others because they cannot imagine what a situation could be like for another person. They cannot “feel”/perceive others’ pain/joy. Appealing to reason does not work because every situation can only be about them and their needs. They can be rude and dismissive to people they perceive to be beneath them, and can often be cruel to animals.
- Don’t feel/show remorse, and avoid any accountability for their actions. There is always a (reasonable-sounding) justification and an excuse. Every problem is always someone else’s fault. Victim blaming is perfectly acceptable.
- Engage in irresponsible or self-destructive behaviours. They believe in their superiority and entitlement to get (and get away with) whatever they want. This illusion of infallibility hampers rational risk assessment, which leads to behaviours like those that caused the global economic meltdown.
- Thrive on drama. As masters of manipulation, they can manufacture drama out of thin air, so that they can revel in their power to cause chaos, and also be seen to be an important mover and shaker as the one to “fix” things. On a more mundane level they would lose important files or be rushing to important meetings, so that they can have a drama that requires everything to help them sort out. But they won’t follow processes or use systems that are set up to prevent these dramas to begin with.
- Brag about outsmarting others or systems (including breaking the law.) They genuinely believe themselves to be above the rules. They would denounce plagiarism one day, only to falsely claim credit for another’s work the next day, and brag about it. Instead of getting things done, they would spend time trying to game the system to avoid doing too much work, or to gain a higher visibility return for their efforts.
- Has a history of short-term relationships (both business and personal.) They have more ex-colleagues, ex-associates and ex-partners with whom they have severed contact than ones still willing to stay in touch. They will have good reasons why this is so of course, with the blame laid clearly on the other parties.
- Holds grandiose fantasy world/delusional beliefs about themselves. They exaggerate their achievements, or even make up fake achievements. They also “promote” themselves vaingloriously on their CVs and LinkedIn profiles, making themselves a “manager” when they were only a team member for example. They are attracted to fame and notoriety, but often lacks the substance to sustain it.
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