How do you know when you’re face-to-face with a psychopath?
There are more out there than we’d like to imagine, and they all tend to exhibit essentially the same traits, says behavioural analyst Lillian Glass, a language expert who’s worked with the FBI on unmasking signals of deception.
Psychopathy is an anti-social personality disorder where the sufferer tends to adopt erratic and impulsive behaviours. Psychopaths have an inability to internalize social norms.
While it’s difficult to know how many psychopaths reside in the U.S., a survey cited in a Reuters article found that out of the 500 senior executive respondents in the U.S. and U.K., 26% said they had “observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace” and 24% believed that those in the financial industry need to “engage in unethical or illegal conduct to be successful.”
Based on Glass’ new book “The Body Language of Liars,” we pulled out seven red flags that you may be dealing with a psychopath in the cube next door.
They constantly use the past tense.
Researchers have found psychopaths use past tense more than present tense, which could signal that they’re detached from the present, writes Glass.
They use cause-and-effect statements.
“Because psychopaths are entitled and see the world and others as theirs for the taking, researchers at the University of British Columbia found that they used more words such as ‘because’ and ‘so that'” says Glass, since they tend to rationalize their actions with their own logic.
They talk excessively about their basic needs.
Since they’re typically not occupied with anything else, psychopaths think about their basic needs a lot, such as food, shelter, and clothing, writes Glass. When talking about their basic needs, psychopaths tend to use twice as many words as usual or provide too much information.
They don’t take responsibility or blame.
Psychopaths usually think that they’re the victims, which comes from their sense of entitlement, says Glass.
“The psychopath will speak of himself in grandiose terms while blaming others and taking no responsibility for his actions,” she says. You can hear this in the lack and emotion of their voice.
They contradict themselves often.
This may even happen within the same sentence. “[Psychopaths] will lie or omit information when you ask them a question, but they may tell you the truth if you rephrase the question slightly. Researchers have discovered that this has to do with the particular way their brain is wired,” says Glass.
They are really bad at crying.
“When [Susan Smith] gave a press conference and cried about her missing children, her fake tears were actually what raised suspicions that she was the killer,” says Glass.
When psychopaths cry, Glass says they will often wipe underneath each eye, one at a time. “When people cry genuine tears they cry with both eyes, and so they will tend to wipe both eyes at once.”
Their body language is different than what they say.
Glass says psychopaths will often say one thing, but their body language will tell a different story. For example, while saying the word “yes,” the psychopath could be shaking their head no.