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Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  2,917 ratings  ·  228 reviews
Revised and updated with the latest scientific research and updated case studies, the business classic that offers a revealing look at psychopaths in the workplace—how to spot their destructive behavior and stop them from creating chaos in the modern corporate organization.

Over the past decade, Snakes in Suits has become the definitive book on how to discover and defend yo
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)

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3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,917 ratings  ·  228 reviews

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Jul 24, 2011 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
Charlene Smith
Jun 11, 2011 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,
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
Spike Gomes
Apr 21, 2013 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
Agile Kindergarten
Feb 05, 2013 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
Jan 26, 2010 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
Feb 01, 2010 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
Troy Blackford
Feb 11, 2014 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
Ruth Charchian
Jan 30, 2012 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
Sep 11, 2011 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).
Pat Leonard
Nov 24, 2011 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
Nov 15, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is a nice little guide for how to spot a psychopath in a work environment, as well as some useful tips for how to damage control or if your boss happens to be a psychopath. They have these nice little vignettes in order to give a concrete example of characteristics to look for, but I think they tend to go a bit heavy handed with them. This reads as more of a handbook and would work really well in that more structured environment that work (should) provide, and I think I would recommend ...more
Sandee Priser
May 22, 2013 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 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.
Theresa Perfetto
Jan 21, 2013 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
Jacques Bezuidenhout
Basically comes down to helping you identify psychopathic behaviour. And the effects it could have when it is missed or seen too late.

I didn't have too much prior knowledge on the subject, so had to go do some extra research on the Robert D. Hare's Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R).

Where previously I might have thought to myself that one specific thing about a person can classify them as a psychopath, it is actually a whole lot of things combined.

It seems the best way to prevent this in the
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent and very clear examples!! It also has good pieces of advice about how dealing with that kind of people!
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction-read
A very interesting subject, but this is packaged as a business management book. In other words, boring.
Alan Menachemson
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Compelling, but parts need skimming unless you are a specialist. Not much more to learn about psychopaths for the average person after reading this highly useful book. Having been damaged by one, the details both saddened and cheered me
Jan 10, 2012 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
Jan 11, 2009 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
Oct 27, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Jul 31, 2013 rated it did not like it
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,
Aug 23, 2012 rated it did not like it
I had a hard time reading it, as it borders on scaremongering. It should be noted that one of the authors has a vested interest in the field and the dangers of psychopaths - he is also the creator of the controversial test for spotting psychopaths. He is utterly convinced that much of the decisions made by global businesses that place us in financial crises are the work of psychopaths.

The book relies largely on his notes and anecdotal evidence. Though studies (often his own) and some statistics
After about 30 pages, I didn't learn much. It continued after 70. I really should have put it down then, but I have a sick need to finish books I started. This should have been a pamphlet, not a 300 page book. It was not the book I thought it was going to be. It's over simplistic, repeats itself often and most is stuff you already know. I.e. when hiring someone, check their references. And that sort of info was repeated at least 5 times. And the stupid story of 'Dave the Psychopath' was so unnec ...more
Jun 08, 2013 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 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
Mick Pletcher
Apr 08, 2014 rated it did not like it
This book was horrible. The author has clearly not researched the topic much. For one thing, he generalizes all psychopaths to be lucky to have made it to the positions they did by fraudulent means. He doesn't take into account that many of them in the white collar world have earned advanced degrees and are highly intelligent.
Jul 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: gossip
Another worthless book that calls itself non fiction,

but is based on a bunch of composite characters who never existed.

Nov 16, 2016 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.
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“The most debilitating characteristic of even the most well-behaved psychopath is the inability to form a workable team.” 11 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.” 4 likes
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