Home' Teacher : April 2011 Contents PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT 21
and what you say, although they'll try, so
above all, act collectively.
In the end, when the pursuit of power
reaches the pointy end, ethics seem pale
things, but they are not so. Social theorist
Richard Sennett, in The Corrosion of Char-
acter, argues that 'character is expressed by
loyalty and mutual com mitment or through
the pursuit of long-term goals, or by the
practice of delayed gratification for the sake
of a future end... Character concerns the per-
sonal traits which we value in ourselves and
for which we seek to be valued by others.'
The workplace psychopath can never
share in the respect of others or naturally
give esteem. It may seem old fashioned, but
there is still dignity in labour; in putting in
a hard day's work and feeling good about
it. For whatever reason, workplace psycho-
paths cut themselves off from one simple
aspect of work, the fraternity and collegi-
ality of working together, but that doesn't
mean we need to let them destroy fraternity
and collegiality altogether. The reverse is in
fact true: we need to cultivate fraternity and
collegiality more than ever.
We ndy Evans is the Workplace Health
Organiser of the Independent Educ ation
Union of South Australia.
This is an edited version of an article
that wa s first published as 'Workplace
psychopaths: How to recognise and deal
with the m' in EdU, the quarterly journal
of the Independent Education Union of
South Au stralia , reproduced with kind
Clarke, J. (2005). Working with
Monsters: How to ide ntify and protect
yourself from the workplace psychopath.
Sydney: Random Hou se.
Kar wat, A. (2008). Workplace
Psychopaths: How to deal with the m?
Sydney: KeySteps. Available at http://
Sennett, R. (1998). The Corrosion of
Character: Personal consequences of
work in the new capitalism. New York:
A need for stimulation Workplace psy-
chopaths like testing people's reactions to
bizarre rules and punishments. Verbal out-
bursts are normal.
Impulsiveness Workplace psychopaths
maintain little control over their behaviour
and show no concern for the impact of their
behaviou r on others.
Irresponsibility Workplace psychopaths
take no responsibility for their actions, pre-
ferring to blame others.
Parasitism Workplace psychopaths be-
have like parasites, eating at the tables of
others without ever playing host themselves.
Know what to do to protect yourself
In his book, Working with Monsters, John
Clarke says it's important to understand
the workplace psychopath's strategies and
behaviours in order to protect yourself.
One of their main strategies is to divide
and conquer. They manipulate about half of
those they work with. Of the remaining 50
per cent, typically 20 per cent are bystand-
ers while typically 30 per cent are actively
cultivated as allies.
A second strategy of the workplace
psychopath is the silent treatment, typically
to isolate their victim for the purpose of
ambushing them. The workplace psycho-
path either withholds information or pro-
vides inconsistent information regarding,
say, a charge of poor work performance or a
charge of undermining staff morale. Victims
of workplace psychopaths often find them-
selves being isolated and then blindsided in
meetings. The workplace psychopath delib-
erately leaves their victim unprepared so that
they can raise unannounced matters, usually
with allies in tow, knowing their victim is
unlikely to have a defence. It's a bit like being
ambushed by someone who has pretended
to be a friend, complete with cheer squad.
The key to overcoming the divide-and-
conquer strategy and the isolation that
comes with the silent treatment is to com-
municate with each other. Talk about what
you've seen, heard and experienced in the
workplace. The workplace psychopath can't
control how you think, who you speak to
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