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Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work
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Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  2,329 Ratings  ·  173 Reviews
Let's say you're about to hire somebody for a position in your company. Your corporation wants someone who's fearless, charismatic, and full of new ideas. Candidate X is charming, smart, and has all the right answers to your questions. Problem solved, right? Maybe not.

We'd like to think that if we met someone who was completely without conscience -- someone who was capable
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published May 9th 2006 by HarperBusiness (first published May 1st 2006)
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Rosemary Newton Document, document, document. Everything written, everything clear. Other than that, disengage and never rise to their comments even if you…moreDocument, document, document. Everything written, everything clear. Other than that, disengage and never rise to their comments even if you desperately want to. Fact never opinion. They are looking for fuel for trouble and every word that is offered is kindling. They are never sorry because they don't know what that feels like.(less)

Community Reviews

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Jul 24, 2011 Laura rated it liked it
Recommended to Laura by: Jon Ronson (sort of)
I read this as a follow up to Jon Ronson’s marvelous Psychopath Test, which was named for the diagnostic criteria Dr. Hare developed. I ended up skimming quite a bit of it because it was what it was billed to be – a book about dealing with psychopaths in the workplace, largely from a corporate management perspective. It’s good, but spent way too much time cautioning the reader to not do exactly what it was telling us how to do – realize that there are psychopaths among us and reducing the harm t ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
I read a book on psychopathy some years ago and it...disturbed me. The idea that psychopaths may walk, live and work among us quite commonly was at least an eye opener. Since then I've read several books about the phenomena.

This book is mostly about finding those with a psychopathic personality before they get hired.

For me the "the names have been changed" (not to protect the innocent but to forestall legal action) case studies were probably the most interesting and helpful parts. I think you'll
Agile Kindergarten
Feb 05, 2013 Agile Kindergarten rated it it was amazing
They are not lying under every rock nor do they occupy every office, but unfortunately, more and more "snakes" are filling leadership positions in Corporate America. Depending on which study you read, between 4 and 30% of our managers and executives are social predators without conscience. Their thrill seeking behavior and political gamesmanship amasses them personal power without any regard to the consequences for either their companies or their co-workers. We've seen some obvious results of th ...more
Spike Gomes
Apr 21, 2013 Spike Gomes rated it liked it
Very recently I found out that a coworker of mine was misrepresenting me and my work to others in the company and vice versa, setting up a destructive conflict between administrative divisions. One of the first things I did was procure a copy of this book in order to focus on what my coping strategy would be when dealing with a coworker of that nature. In some respects, the book was very helpful in giving a clear sense of the behavioral patterns that can exist when people with psychopathic tende ...more
Feb 01, 2010 Karen rated it it was ok
This is a fun read for the first few chapters but then just repetitive. I learned that "psychopath" isn't a diagnosis. The author has developed a checklist and diagnostic tools for psychopathy (a word I find oddly pleasant to say) but the only close real diagnosis is Antisocial personality disorder.

My biggest takeaway from this though is the idea that corporations act like psychopaths. I had never thought about that, but once I did, it couldn't be more obvious. I think that the larger the compan
Charlene Smith
Jun 11, 2011 Charlene Smith rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. I ordered this for my Kindle at the recommendation of a friend who is a psychologist while battling to deal with a boss who was rude, abusive, manipulative and a non-performer. She disguised it all by terrorizing staff, and then could be charming and articulate when needed.
I have always worked well with colleagues and been in environments (but for the SABC in Johannesburg, which has been toxic for years) where people respect, if not enjoy, each other and perform well.
This woman,
Jan 26, 2010 Cissa rated it it was ok
This could have been about a third of the length and not lost content. It is VERY repetitive. I'm not sure how helpful it is, either, although the last couple of chapters do make a pass at offering hints about how to cope if one is working with such a snake.

The authors also claim that not all corporations are psychopathic. I wonder about this, since the legal mandate for corps is precisely psychopathic: they are legally required to do everything possible to improve shareholder value/profits, no
Pat Leonard
Nov 24, 2011 Pat Leonard rated it liked it
This book was referenced in Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test, so I picked it up. It offers practical advice for recognizing a psychopath, understanding how the psychopath operates, and how to protect yourself from a psychopath, and it does so primarily in the context of the workplace or corporate atmosphere.

A few years ago I attempted to read The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout, but I put it down, mainly because it was one belabored case study after another. I was more interested in how to d
Ruth Charchian
Jan 30, 2012 Ruth Charchian rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
"I always said if i wasn't studying psychopaths in prison, i'd do so at the stock exchange." Robert Hare, quoted in Fast Company

Today's fast paced business environment is the perfect place to harbor psychopaths. 3.5% of senior executives fall into the category of psychopath. Their characteristics are very difficult to diagnose because they are or can be very charming and devious. Their characteristics are: superficial, grandiose,deceitful, lack remorse, lack empathy, do not accept responsibility
Troy Blackford
Feb 11, 2014 Troy Blackford rated it really liked it
This book delves into the ramifications of working alongside, above, or under a person who is 'suffering' from psychopathy. (I put suffering in quotes because the true psychopath will not feel anything of the sort; it is the people around them who will suffer.) Interestingly, this book--written by psychologists--takes a work-oriented perspective. As in, it will tell you how to navigate a professional situation if you feel you have become embroiled in the mad machinations of a psychopath's person ...more
Sandee Priser
May 22, 2013 Sandee Priser rated it really liked it
While we all work with difficult people at some point in time, psychopaths are a special breed that require vigilance and due care in the work environment. Some of the same traits that make good leaders are also characteristics of psychopaths, as amazing as that sounds. While only trained psychiatric professionals can diagnose psychopathy, this book provides some great examples and guidance to help educate executives, leaders and team members on when real problems may exist and suggests practica ...more
David Glad
Nov 14, 2012 David Glad rated it it was amazing
Another of those books that has a few ideas that can have huge benefits if practiced, such as making connections with other people in your organization so a psychopath or just plain jerk would have a harder time trying to smear and get rid of you. As well as helping to size up a situation as to whether you're being used and advice to exit bad situations before they have a chance to become worse.
Sep 11, 2011 Janice rated it liked it
I skimmed this book -- didn't have much use for the fictional narratives that the authors interspersed every other chapter. The most useful parts were pp 74-79 (how psychopaths gain people's trust), 270-89 (how to detect and protect yourself from psychopaths), and 301-13 (how to deal with psychopaths at work).
Theresa Perfetto
Jan 21, 2013 Theresa Perfetto rated it it was amazing
I saw the author speak at a training, and I enjoyed him. This book is pretty good. Takes about the " regular guys" in the workplace who are sociopathic and the behaviors one might see. Surprisingly shocking
Jun 08, 2013 Goodnews rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book captures the essence of abnormal behaviour at the ranch (office). Not all psychopaths kill & maim, at least not physically; some go to work, only to create higher levels of havoc. They damage many spirits, and may have people literally dying in their wake. The mask of good (and on many occasions, outstanding performance) short term can fool even the best of leaders. They charm you and spit you out when you are of no use to them. These are some of the learnings from this wonderful b ...more
Bjorn Hardarson
Feb 16, 2014 Bjorn Hardarson rated it it was amazing
I was at a workshop with Robert Hare in Dublin in 1999 which was a great workshop on psychopathy. At that time I was working as psychologist in prison system. During that time the main focus on Psychopathy was on those stereotypes that are in prisons. IN 2008 the credit crunch happened and hit the world economy and countries like Iceland hard. Snakes in Suits describes those psychopaths in the business surrounding and how the ever changing fast world of business is well suited for psychopaths to ...more
Nov 16, 2016 Lise rated it did not like it
I picked this up because I really enjoyed Jon Ronson's Psychopath Test. It read like a textbook and was drier than a dead dingos donga.
Michelle Too
May 06, 2017 Michelle Too rated it really liked it
Extensive facts about psychopaths on how to identify and avoid them
Feb 08, 2014 Island rated it really liked it
Have you ever wondered how can an incompetent and incapable sicko like your boss could get the position he/she is in? All of us have, haven't we? (If you haven't consider yourself one of the very lucky exceptions.) Do you have the feeling that you run into the same kind of persons over and over again in decision-making positions? Why is that? Why the higher level of management doesn't see what's going on? Is there a chance that there might be a certain pattern to it? 'The problem must be with my ...more
Jan 10, 2012 Karen rated it it was amazing
They are not lying under every rock nor do they occupy every office, but unfortunately, more and more "snakes" are filling leadership positions in Corporate America. Depending of which study you read, between 4 and 30% of our managers and executives are social predators without conscience. Their thrill seeking behavior and political gamesmanship amasses them personal power without any regard to the consequences to either their companies or their co-workers. We've seen some obvious results of the ...more
Elizabeth De Simone
Feb 21, 2017 Elizabeth De Simone rated it it was ok
To much written like a text book. I can't even say I read the whole thing, because it was to dry. Had some interesting points.
Apr 18, 2013 Mid rated it liked it
I got around to this book several years after I first saw it referenced, and I'm glad I finally did. The author has a pleasingly terse writing style (with one exception that I'll mention in a minute) and I didn't feel like my time was being wasted.

The fictional examples in the book felt rather wasted - the real examples had far more impact. The addition of narrative in this case felt like a bow to pop psychology rather than anything else, and out of place because of it.

The major problem I had wa
Feb 20, 2017 Vyncex rated it did not like it
Rudimentary bullshit.
Othón León
May 22, 2013 Othón León rated it liked it
Shelves: business
It is considered that 10% of the population cannot feel empathy towards the feelings of others, remorse for their manipulative, damaging, actions, etc. = Psychopathy.

The author tries to answer to this fundamental question:

What happens when these individuals go to work and interact with others on a day to day basis?

Yes, I liked this book, but just that (I had great expectations about this title).

I "thought" it was going to scientifically explain the facts surrounding this fascinating subject. I
Que Risa
May 23, 2013 Que Risa rated it liked it
Parts of the book were informative. However, I found the organization of the book to be disjointed and hard to follow. Interspersing a fictional example every few chapters didn't hold my attention and made it a bit difficult to follow for me. The entire section on interviewing, while informative and useful, was not really appropriate for the nature of this book.

It would have bee useful to have more clear distinctions made between psychopathy and other personality disorders. I would be interested
Jan 11, 2009 Jbryon rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm generally not that critical of pop business/pop psychology / pop economic books. They make what are otherwise complicated topics accessible for the layperson. And given the recent news of corporate malfeasance, ponzi schemes, and zealous greed driving economic policy, I had hoped to more fully understand how a limited number of corrupt individuals could unravel multinational companies and world markets and what sort of characters they might be. Snakes in Suits does explain this insofar as it ...more
Lucas Gili
Jan 01, 2015 Lucas Gili rated it it was ok
The book has 2 fictional stories written through it that are about how 2 psychopaths work, the other parts of the book are snippets of case studies and information about psychopaths and what they do and say at/about work. It has some good advice to those new to psychopathy. One point that wasnt made clear enough is how having certain character traits do not mean soneone is a psychopath and that is a weak point of this book.

The bottom line is it tajes a lot of time and work by professionals to d
Jun 29, 2012 Filip rated it liked it
"Dumb psychopaths go to prison, smart psychopaths go to the executive floor". That's the premise of this interesting book that analyses how psychopaths manage to be successful in corporate environments or in specific industries. According to the author, psychopaths are 4 times more frequent among managers than among the general population.
The book offers many great insights, and although inevitably, when specific examples were mentioned, I did sometimes wonder whether impression management or hi
Jan 15, 2016 Deborah rated it really liked it
After working with a few savory characters, this book puts things in perspective. Rare is the individual as extreme as those depicted, but it's helpful to get background on the psychology of the worst.

Psychopaths' emotional poverty -- that is, their inability to feel normal human emotions and their lack of conscience -- can be mistaken for 3 other executive skills, specifically the ability to make hard decisions, to keep their emotions in check, and to remain cool under fire.

Psychopaths are refe
Jacob O'connor
Oct 31, 2013 Jacob O'connor rated it liked it
I remember a few years ago I took a young fella from work to lunch.  My aim was to share the gospel with him.  He told me over his cheeseburger and fries that, while he isn’t interested in becoming a Christian, he’s grateful for the Christian ethic because it makes people easy to manipulate.  He’s relying on the naiveté of good folks to make sure he gets what he wants.

Even now I don’t have a good response to that.  Since that time I’ve read a number of self-help business books.  Some of them tak
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“The most debilitating characteristic of even the most well-behaved psychopath is the inability to form a workable team.” 5 likes
“Psychopathic workers very often were identified as the source of departmental conflicts, in many cases, purposely setting people up in conflict with each other. “She tells some people one story, and then a totally different story to others.” 1 likes
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