Site Loader

Translator: Leonardo Silva
Reviewer: Tatjana Jevdjic [Bullying and Corporate Psychopaths
at work] Right. Hello, everybody. I’m here
to tell you a bit of a story about why I got interested in the link between
corporate psychopaths and bullying. A long time ago, in a land far away, I was running a business
in the Far East, and, as a part of that,
I was moved offices. And when I was moved offices,
I was told I was getting a new boss. And various people
came up to me and said, “You have to be careful about this
new guy, this new boss you’re getting. He’s very manipulative,
he’s very ruthless, very cunning, and he’s almost downright evil. So, I thought, hm, this guy sounds
like a bit of a monster, a bit of a devil. And when people say things like
that to you, that’s what you expect. You expect to meet a monster. What you actually meet
is an utterly charming man, in a well-cut suit,
who looks very attractive. He’s very sociable, very extroverted
and he doesn’t look like a monster at all. He looks like your next best friend.
And so, you get confused. Then you think that these people
must have been wrong. I’m going to really enjoy working
with this person.” Looking back years later,
people would say to me, “Well, how did you end up in
the circumstances that you ended up with?” And I could never answer that,
until I read about corporate psychopaths. And then it all clicked together. So, that’s my personal reason
for getting involved in psychopathy and corporate psychopaths. And, as I started to read about bullying
as a different part of my academic job, I realized there’s probably
a large area of crossover between bullies and psychopaths
in the workplace. So, I started to look at bullying itself. It’s usually described as being
the regular and repeated belittling, or humiliating, or, in some way,
intimidating a person, and it’s usually a single person,
in the workplace, on a regular basis, as I said. So, it involves things like regular
conflict, arguments, yelling, rudeness in the workplace,
directed at a single person. It seems to be all over
the place, basically. If you look at the papers
to do with bullying, it seems to be in every organization,
and significant numbers of people have experienced it. Usually
it’s in the 30 and 40 percentages. And even organizations like the Departments of Consumer
and Employment Protection, in Western Australia,
where I was at the time, whose job is to prevent bullying, were accused by their own staff
of having a culture of bullying. And the staff insisted that they
bring in private investigators to investigate the bullying
that was going on in the organization, that was there to prevent bullying.
So, it’s all over the place. So, that made me think,
“But, why? Why is it all over the place?” And the other thing that struck me
in reading about it is that companies and corporations
and organizations don’t seem to know what to do about it. They tend to want to sweep it under
the carpet, to pretend it doesn’t exist. And quite often, they’ll do things like, they’ll pay off the people
who are being bullied, and they’ll insert a clause into that payoff,
into that contractual arrangement, whereby they’re not allowed
to talk about it. So it all gets swept under the carpet. The bully, in the meantime,
gets promoted, and they’re the only one that’s
left in the organization. But there are many ethical
and financial reasons why bullying should not be swept
under the carpet, and some of these are to do
with individual reasons. So, the negative effects, the psychological effects on the individual
concern are quite devastating. So, they feel humiliated, belittled, their careers quite often
get ruined or disjointed. They’ll try and withdraw
from the workplace, they’ll seek other jobs, and they end up in lesser positions,
or unemployed, or in jobs they don’t really want to do. And their confidence and motivation
is destroyed at a personal level. But it also has an effect at a corporate
level or an organizational level as well, because there’s a typical
fight-or-flight response to being in a conflict situation
or to being bullied. So, in terms of flight, people withdraw
their time and effort. So, they’ll stop doing overtime, they’ll
stop their extracurricular activities, in terms of commitment to the organization
and helping the organization grow. And they’ll fight back in terms of things like
counterproductive work behavior. So, typically, if the bully
is your manager, or your supervisor,
or your boss in some way, you take him or her
as a representative of the company. And, therefore, your revenge is not
on them particularly, as an individual. It tends to be against the company. So, you’ll stop working properly,
you’ll sabotage normal work processes, you’ll withdraw your effort and your
commitment, as I said, to what you’re doing. And the result of all that is just
further conflicts within the organization. The ethical and moral climate
of the organization starts to diminish, and that has knock-on effects in terms
of how you treat your suppliers, how you treat your tax returns
and everything else to do with the company. So, reading some of the literature
on bullies and bullying, there seems to be a sort of unspoken,
underlying sense of bewilderment, “Who are these people? Who are these people
that enjoy watching people get hurt?” ‘Cause it doesn’t seem
a normal thing to do, a normal thing to want to do or to enjoy
doing, and they clearly enjoy it. Reading about bullies, the words that are used to describe them
are on the screen there. So, they enjoy hurting other people,
they’re cruel, they’re selfish, they’re parasitic, Machiavellian, and you start to get in the literature
a lot of words to do with a dissocial personality. So, antisocial personality disorder,
sociopathy, psychopathy and lots of these words
are similar to words used to identify corporate psychopaths. Well, corporate psychopaths
are those psychopaths who are about 1% of the population, and just by the way, who go into
organizational and corporate positions, rather than into a criminal career. And psychologists have slowly
come to realize that those from better socioeconomic
backgrounds, perhaps with a good education, good family background, work out
fairly early, that it’s far easier to get the power, the prestige,
and the money that they want from a corporate career
than it is from a criminal career. And so, they go into
the corporate world. So, the same words are used
to describe them, these psychopaths, as I used to describe bullies,
with the exception that psychopaths, the outstanding thing about psychopaths
is they have absolutely no conscience. So, there’s nothing that inhibits them,
in terms of how they behave. They can be totally ruthless
and sleep perfectly well that night, because nothing they do bothers them,
because they don’t have a conscience, and there’s no feeling,
no emotion in their lives. So, having realized that there’s
probably a large link between psychopathy and psychopaths
and bullying, I thought it would be interesting
to do some research to see how large that link actually is. So, I took a psychopathy measure from reading 200 and odd psychology
papers on psychopaths, and embedded it
in a management survey of management behavior,
firstly doing this in Australia. And what I found was one
of the most outstanding things. I found that psychopaths seemed to account for around 26%
of all bullying in that particular sample of managers,
of Australian managers. It was 346 managers,
research carried out in 2008, I think. And there were quite a few other
interesting statistics there, as well. I mean, under normal managers, employees encountered bullying
less than once a month. If there were corporate psychopaths
in the organization, then bullying went up to
more than once a week. 1.3 times a week,
I think it was. – And I measured lots
of other things as well, besides bullying, but that was the interesting thing
for the purposes of today – Because those results were so dramatic,
I repeated it again in the U.K. And – Let’s get the right slide.
That one – And I found even more bullying
in the U.K. than I found in Australia. And I found that psychopaths
and corporate psychopaths were accounted for more of that bullying
than they did in Australia. So, up to 36% of all bullying is down
to the presence of corporate psychopaths in an organization, in this sample. And the knock-on effects,
more yelling, more arguments, more disruption, more conflict,
then, when psychopaths are there, compared to when they’re not there. So, under normal managers,
everything is, in terms of conflict, everything is lowered,
and much more sedate, and much more smooth, and much less chaotic,
and less confusion. So…
Where are we? In conclusion, I think that what I’ve — Having established the link between
corporate psychopaths and bullying, it starts to explain some of the big
questions that are to do with bullyings. For example, why is it so pervasive
in all companies, around the world and in all countries? Well, the answer to that might be that, because psychopaths are 1%
of the population. If we assume they are normally
distributed across the whole population, then, in every major company
there will be psychopaths. And if there are psychopaths,
there will be bullying. So, that explains why bullying
is so common. The other thing it explains is
why bullying occurs in the first place. Psychopaths bully for two main reasons.
One of them is predatory. So they do it because they like it.
They do it because they enjoy it. They do it because they like
to see people squirm. They like just to hurt people,
they like to damage their careers, and that’s the thing that’s hard
for the rest of us to understand. It’s enjoyable. That’s one
of the reasons they do it. The other reason they do it is
what I’ve called instrumental bullying. So, they’re doing it quite often to create
confusion and chaos all around them, so that they can forward their own
political and social and career agendas, while everybody else
is emotionally distracted. So, it creates a smokescreen for them
to get on with what they’re really doing, which is gaining power, and influence,
and prestige, and money within the corporation. So, anybody, for example, a boss
looking down on this whole situation of bullying and emotional reactions will see that the only person that seems
to have kept their cool is this psychopath, because he started it all
in the first place. And therefore, the only person
that seems like they want… deserves promotion is the psychopath. So, that’s why it helps
to answer the question of why psychopaths seem
to get promoted at the hierarchy more than ordinary people do. Because they create
confusion around them and that enables them to forward their
own agenda to promote themselves. So, if you link it
at an organizational level, companies like Enron, which was
the biggest fraud in history at the time, before the global financial crisis
and things like that, was reported to have a culture
of bullying within it. And they bullied their agencies,
they bullied their advisers, they bullied their suppliers to keep them
in check and to stop them asking questions, so that they could perpetuate this massive
fraud that was going on for years. So, it’s a means to an end,
as well as an end in itself. And I think bullying in corporate banks,
for example, and linking it to the global
financial crisis, was very evident as well. There is a culture of, “Don’t ask questions,
or you’ll get into trouble.” So, no ethical questions
are allowed in these institutions, and it enables them to get on
with what they’re doing, with their fraud, and it prevents people from exposing it. If anyone is interested in finding out
more about any of these things, those are the things to look up
in your search engine. Thank you for listening.
Goodbye. (Applause)

Reynold King

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *