How to Negotiate with a Psychopath
A psychopath would rather have nothing than see you have something. If the deal is a win/win, or even if he comes out ahead in the deal, that isn’t enough for the psychopath. You must end up miserable with your end of the deal. This concept is more difficult to understand than you’d imagine because normal people don’t include the look on your face as part of a deal. But to the infantile psychopath, your face is the KEY. For a psychopath, the look on your face is the most meaningful part of the deal and the entire reason why he enters into a negotiation.
Make No Assumptions
In any negotiation, normally we want to reach a compromise so that both parties get closer to what they wanted. It doesn’t work that way with a psychopath. They’ll never let you know what they really want. Instead, they’ll mislead you because they don’t actually play to win. Their end game is to see the look on your face when you lose. This is a very different game from what you expected.
For example, several years ago, I was helping a psychopath market his toy invention. We planned to attend a toy convention and I offered to book the accommodations. Being a savvy shopper, I stacked a few discounts and coupons to get us accommodations at the Hyatt — for much less than the website rates. Later, when he needed airfare to another convention, I again offered to find discount prices even though he didn’t invite me this time. He had invited someone else. I offered to find deals for that person’s ticket as well. He noticed my enthusiasm and said, “You enjoy doing this don’t you? Forget it, I don’t need help.” Just the fact that I enjoyed helping him, infuriated him. Yes, they want you to help them but it must be done in drudgery and misery. Most especially, you cannot experience the reward of a job well done. Self-esteem is off limits to anyone in the company of a psychopath.
The Idealization Phase
While in that instance, that particular psychopath simply declined my assistance when he saw how pleased I was to help him, that’s not the most common response. Most of the time, psychopaths will allow you help them and then punish you severely once they’ve gained from your efforts. Most psychopath victims are familiar with this shocking betrayal – it is the hallmark of a psychopath. Like the women who were killed by the serial killer, Ted Bundy, after they helped him carry his books when he feigned a broken leg, the last thing a victim expects is to be repaid with evil for their good deed. Yet this is exactly the psychopath’s intention and it’s the only thing you can expect. It makes no sense but that’s exactly what a psychopath enjoys most about it: The bewildered look on your face as you try to figure out what you did wrong or wonder what you could’ve done differently. The truth is, with a psychopath, no good deed goes unpunished.
When you help someone, the last thing you would expect is that they resent you for it. But the psychopath sees you glow with satisfaction and wants to wipe that look off your face.
Can the Psychopath Be Useful?
A psychopath’s goal in life is to be of use to nobody. They use people and they don’t want the tables turned on them. On web forums, I’ve read comments suggesting that a psychopath might be of use in certain professions, such as soldier, surgeon, pilot or spy. These are roles that require nerves of steel and less empathy. While it may seem that a psychopath is well suited, it doesn’t take into account that they have no sense of loyalty or responsibility. If their role is to drop a bomb on the enemy, they are just as likely to turn it around and drop it on their own team. If they’re supposed to extract a kidney, they’re likely to cut off your leg or your liver too. Betrayal is the one thing you can count on from the psychopath because it’s what they enjoy. If you hire a psychopath to do a job, you can count on them to ruin your business, to leave you responsible for their destruction or just to create the chaos that they’re famous for. They love watching the world fall to pieces around them. Chaos is where they’re most comfortable.
If you find betrayal useful then, yes, you can find a use for them. If you survived you’ll have the opportunity to see your blind spots.
A Psychopath’s Bag of Tricks
So how does a person deal with a psychopath without losing everything? The obvious way is to try to avoid making deals with a psychopath. If you can, present an expressionless face and a lack of dramatic response. Then the psychopath might go looking for greener pastures. On the other hand, if you have a lot to lose, he may see you as a challenging conquest anyway.
In addition to their mask of sanity, the psychopath has another weapon: they know what you want to believe. They know that you want to believe that you can perceive them clearly. To that end, they’ll portray a generally good and likable persona. Usually, that persona will also include some flaws that they’re supposedly working to improve so that you’ll also have compassion for them. They’ll behave rationally long enough to gain your confidence. Although most psychopaths won’t reveal their diagnosis in person, online web forums are full of people who are self-professed ASPD, narcissists or psychopaths. Some of these people say that they “really care about their spouse or children” and “only hurt people who deserve it.” This keeps naive people believing that they can “deal” with a psychopath without getting hurt because they understand the psychopath’s motivations.
Unfortunately, most people can’t imagine the reality of an emotional vampire’s perspective: They’re hungry and everyone looks like food to them.
To feed, a psychopath needs control of their victim’s reality. They want to control what you feel and consequently, what you believe. In the end, they want you to feel that you don’t know what to believe, what to expect, what’s real and what’s fake, whether you’re hearing and seeing the truth, or being deceived. This is because they have no grounded reality. Their truth is fluid and they want you to join them in that free floating abyss. Betrayal is a shock that unhinges you from the ability to trust and consequently that’s the ultimate tool they’ll use to get maximum emotional output from their victims.
If you fail to spot-the-spath, there are still measures you can take to protect yourself. You can take some of the proactive steps that psychopaths take. For example, many psychopaths teach themselves to vomit at will, just in case someone poisons them. They do this because they’ve poisoned other people.
But poison isn’t just for the body, it also applies to the mind. You can protect your mind from the insidious poison of the psychopath by not swallowing anything they tell you. We often assume that something is true because there is no reason to lie. With a psychopath, that just doesn’t apply. They lie when there is no discernible reason. If their lips are moving, they are lying. Whether it’s declarations of love or hate, warnings or threats, double check everything they say, and ask people who can verify. This is an excellent strategy because pathological lying is another red flag that you’re dealing with a disordered person – very possibly a psychopath.
Hedging bets is another strategy they use. The psychopath will buy a stock and also the buy the option. Again, this doesn’t have to mean literally, it can also mean that they will be a double agent, or betting against themselves and taking a fall in the ring. So basically it means buying an insurance policy, but not necessarily letting the other party know.
Another strategy they use is to borrow money then set up a loss in business and use it as a write off. The lender is left holding the bag but the psychopath actually benefits from the loss. We can take a page from the psychopath’s book by getting insurance on any business deal and not investing more than we can afford to lose.
My ex-psychopath told me about a friend who inherited an apartment building. He convinced the friend to sell the building and invest in a recording studio. Ex-psychopath built it, ran it and lived in it for a few months until it burned down under suspicious circumstances. Luckily for him, Ex-psychopath wasn’t home that day and neither was his most prized possession, his guitar. Now that I know better, I believe that Ex-psychopath just couldn’t bear to see his friend have anything, so he convinced him that they could invest the money in a business and then just burned it to the ground. They had neglected to buy insurance. Again, he wasn’t playing to win, so much as to see his “friend” lose.
Since money is not the only thing psychopaths take, insurance is only good for partial protection. Anything you value is at risk: Your family, friends, reputation and health. The psychopath uses compartmentalizing to protect himself from this damage. They keep their relationships separate or even secret. So when they’ve burned one friendship to the ground the other friends don’t get wind of it. Compartmentalizing your relationships is actually a good protection from psychopaths. Before a psychopath destroys their victim, they will turn all the victim’s sources of aid against them. This strategy can actually be turned around and used by the victim as a way to “separate the wheat from the chafe.” We can more easily recognize true friends from false friends when a psychopath is involved.
Ex-psychopath once told me that he had seen people lose everything they owned to a casino. He said that some gamblers would bet their retirement funds, and then lose it all. He said he was sure they walked out and committed suicide. This is the kind of loss that whets a psychopath’s appetite. So when I mentioned that I enjoyed bargain hunting because it’s kind of like gambling, that caught his interest.
“It is?” he asked, intrigued.
“Yeah, it is! Except you always win!” I replied.
“Oh,” was his dejected response. He lost interest and walked away.
Use Your Poker Face when You Play Chess
It’s all about values. The psychopath has no values so he looks to your facial expression to inform him of what’s valuable and he focuses on that. Psychopaths are known for being greedy but that’s only because they want what they think everyone else wants. Money is a safe bet, since our culture has placed a high value on it. They simply want to see the expression of envy on your face when you see that they have more money than you do. This is a method of trading places with their victim – they want to make their victim as envious as they, themselves, feel.
For a psychopath, the “Art of the Deal” begins with hiding his true intentions: for you to lose. The psychopath next move is unpredictable because he really doesn’t care how you lose, just so long as you know that you’ve lost. It may even end with him losing as well, but he doesn’t care, as long as he gets to see the look on your face as you stare in bewilderment trying fruitlessly to make sense of his behavior. That’s what a psychopath calls “winning” because he got your attention.
The art of the deal with a psychopath is to play one part chess and 2 parts poker. A poker face is the card that keeps the psychopath off balance. Remember, the psychopath is playing to see you lose but he won’t know if you’ve lost until your face tells him.
It’s no surprise then that the archetypical “devil” in mythology is often portrayed as out looking to make a deal. From the biblical temptation of Jesus to the story of Rumpelstiltskin, we see the devil making promises with ulterior motives.
In my next blog post, I want to take this concept to the next level. I’ve explained how a psychopath steals your money and possessions, your loved ones, even your self-esteem. In the next article I want to tell you how the devil steals a soul. I’ll tell you about a devil who stole a young boy’s soul. He traded it for a candy bar.