When I was living in Argentina, I was in a work situation that can only be described as toxic and retaliatory. I was naive, new, and falling into every trap and every manipulative game that was being played. It was painful, I felt like a failure, and I couldn’t figure out how to get through this situation. I’d never been in a professional setting where someone was coming after me – hard – and tearing me down by attacking my credibility, my personal nature, my intelligence, my competence. The environments in which I had worked had always been more collegial and collaborative, so this was a shock.
What is Psychopathed?
One day, a colleague came into my office and explained that “to psychopath” is a verb in Spanish. Psicopatear. It’s an activity. It’s an action. A verb. And I was being “verbed” upon by one of our other colleagues. The man taught me how the game was played and how to dance around and through it (literally using Tango references) instead of pushing back directly and falling into the traps (which is what I had been doing). It was a valuable lesson that I have tried to pass on to others. And even though it’s not a verb in English, there’s no other word that explains toxic behavior better than “psychopathing!”
That’s why I wrote about it in this Forbes.com article called “Are You Being Psychopathed?” Often when I start mentoring someone, I recognize the behavior immediately and we talk through the manipulation and toxic behavior that is going on around them. Whether they live in Canada or Mexico or Spain or the UK or Germany, we focus on how to take the wind out of the sails of the person who is psychopathing them, and I’ve found that usually once they figure out that you are onto them, they will direct their efforts elsewhere.