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

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  1,456 ratings  ·  133 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
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Hardcover, 352 pages
Published May 9th 2006 by HarperBusiness (first published May 1st 2006)
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Laura
Jul 24, 2011 Laura rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
Agile Kindergarten
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
Karen
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
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Spike Gomes
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
Pat Leonard
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
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Cissa
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
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Troy Blackford
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
Charlene Smith
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,
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Ruth Charchian
"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
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David Glad
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.
Theresa Perfetto
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
Treva
I feel nauseated. This is not because of the quality of this book but because of the prototypical examples of psychopaths in action, not only in the workplace, but in life. This book switches between novel-like accounts of psychopaths in action, and explanations of the psychology behind psychopathy and also tips for those who must be around a suspected pycshopath, particularly in the workplace. From the Christian perspective I hold, I kept wondering if these are the types of people that the bibl ...more
Sandee Priser
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
Bjorn Hardarson
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
Lucas Gili
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
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Janice
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).
Eleanor Cowan
Learn all you can!

Either learn beforehand about manipulators without conscience who will take all you have built up - or discover after the fact as you pick up the dreadful pieces.

This is an important book as is Dr. Hare's first fine book, 'Without Conscience'.

Not all psychopaths are so compulsive that they end up in jail. Some are quite content to steal slowly and quietly - your job, your money, your home. They will turn your boss and loyal employees against you. They are expert at what they
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Oren Bochman
The book is interesting but I was annyed because it is also very repetitive - it seems like the authors don't so much to say some of the time. At other times it is possibly to technical - quoting from the psychological refrence on difnostics of various disorders. I was amused to learn that psycopaths are able to manipulate researchers who are studing them - this is something I have noticed. Also that it is quite difficult to identify these individuals even if you have a 30 point check list in fr ...more
Alex Acton
This book is an interesting collaboration, but it shoots for two goals and misses both. Babiak is an HR consultant, and his co-author is an expert on psychopath spotting. The book could either be a definitive look into the inner workings of the corporate psychopathic mind, or a training text for HR workers to weed out individuals with psychopathic tendencies. Instead, the text switches gears from one topic to the next about half-way through, losing any gained momentum and significantly changing ...more
Island
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
Emily
Snakes in Suits is written from a business perspective. Drs. Babiak and Hare, organizational psychologists, carefully outline how companies can protect themselves through the hiring process to weed out applicants who fall into this category. Thorough fact-checking of resumes and multiple screening interviews conducted by people of different expertise and levels within the company is a good start, but not sufficient. They list several red flags to watch for, suggest interviewing tactics and encou ...more
arjuna
UGH UGH UGH. Picked this up after reading Ronson's "The Psychopath Test", as it appears in his references. Given Hare's co-authorship I expected something a bit insightful and deconstructive; instead we get one of those awful way-too-easy-to-read business manuals that tells twee little stories in lieu of sensible discussion. There is occasionally useful material (albeit easily Google-able stuff) interleaved with the Ongoing Saga Of Dave The Psychopath but the book as a whole is repetitious, dull ...more
Filip
"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
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Melanie
I'm liking it more than Without Conscience, but not as much as The Sociopath Next Door. A book that is heavy with real-life vignettes is way more useful than a more abstract book or a book wherein all the psychopaths are murderous criminals. (I still have a quibble with the psychopath/sociopath semantics, though, and prefer the term sociopath to psychopath.)

There is a lot of human-resources/company management content in this book as well, like how to find a psychopath within your organization or
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Karen
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
Jacob O'connor
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 take on
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Robert Dunlap
I stopped reading at about 30% of the full content. It became harder and harder to take this book seriously until finally it seemed a waste, and The Psychopath Test later proved to me why this was so.

The book starts with a disclaimer about the quasi-fictional character Dave. This seemed to make reading worse than useless. As psychopaths are probably on a spectrum, then cherry-picking evidence would make the book misleading.

The authors take Stanley Bing's What Would Machiavelli Do out of context,
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Que Risa
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
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Mid
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
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Jbryon
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
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“The most debilitating characteristic of even the most well-behaved psychopath is the inability to form a workable team.” 2 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.” 0 likes
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