The Boss Probably Is Nuts, But the Cat Lady Could Be Top Talent

Your boss may be a psychopath. Not in that “you know what that jerk did today” kind of way, but in the clinical, DSM-IV meaning.

Turns out that your boss is four times more likely to be a certifiable psychopath than you, meaning she or he is charming, but manipulative (check); lacking in empathy and remorse (check); and, really good at masking her or his true self (double check, especially when the boss is talking to the higher ups). Thirty percent of your co-workers think the boss needs a shrink.

Reporting to one of these psychopaths can cause your hair to fall out and add 10 pounds to your weight. They’re as bad for your heart as cigarettes.

How do I know this? Other than from personal experience? A PR firm says so. Lawrence Ragan Communications, which publishes newsletters and provides services for corporations, managers, executives, and HR people, put together a bunch of data points about nutcase bosses, presumably to get a little PR for itself. As you can see, it worked.

Another Sign: Not on Facebook

You saw the other day that Facebook says it now has 1 billion active users? That’s a seventh of the world’s population, give or take. I’ve got a few acquaintances who aren’t on it, which I’ve considered just an eccentricity. But now I see they might be psychopaths, potential mass murderers, or, at the least, out of luck finding a job.

The German magazine Der Taggspiegel noted that “absolute abstinence (from Facebook) does seem suspicious.” (Translation by Google.) A Slashdot poster interpreting the essence of the article, wrote: “Not having a Facebook account could be the first sign that you are a mass murderer.”

At Forbes, writer Kashmir Hill says she’s heard “job seekers and employers wonder aloud about what it means if a job candidate doesn’t have a Facebook account.”

When I was a kid my mom used to say things like, “If all the other kids jumped off the Empire State Building (I grew up in New York), would you?” Apparently, the mentally healthy answer is, “Yes.”

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Hello Kitty Enhances Job Performance

Now step into the really deep end of the crazy pool with me as we discuss the power of Kawaii, which is not a misspelling.

Three researchers at Hiroshima University did a series of experiments that if they’d been done here in the U.S. with grant money would be fodder for the next presidential debate. They showed pictures of cute kitties and puppies (look here if you think that’s a redundancy) and compared how well they did on tests to when they were shown other kinds of pictures.

The result of all this is summed up by the title of their article: “The Power of Kawaii: Viewing Cute Images Promotes a Careful Behavior and Narrows Attentional Focus.”

In other words, the students did better — 44 percent better in one experiment — after seeing the cute puppies and kitties than they did when looking at adult animal pictures or enticing pictures of tasty food.

You know that gal who has pictures of her cats all over her cubicle? She might be on to something. Or, she could end up as Eleanor did.

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


2 Comments on “The Boss Probably Is Nuts, But the Cat Lady Could Be Top Talent

  1. Really interesting information! Especially the information about how job seekers not on Facebook are being viewed by employers. It’s true that employers are using the Internet and social media to screen more candidates now. Whether it’s checking out a candidate’s Twitter page, video resume, or work portfolio, social media can really help employers find out more about a good candidate. But just because a candidate doesn’t have a Facebook page doesn’t mean they’re not still top talent. Hopefully we don’t get to a point in our hiring where Facebook pages are required for employment!

  2. Thanks, John.
    Re: Crazy bosses: With arrogant and clueless aspers founding companies and slick and manipulative psycho/socies running them, it’s unlikely many people high up “feel your pain.” For such reasons, keep one eye on your back for knife wounds, the other on the way out, and go for all you can get while you’re there, just like the folks at the top do, because loyalty equals cash-flow…..

    Re: Facebook: I’ve felt for awhile that the lack of a significant web presence (not necessarily just FB) will be increasingly be regarded as suspicious and as a disincentive to hiring: “What are they hiding (from)?”

    Re: Hello Kitty: I suspect that this is one of countless minor revelations which will contribute to learning how people really act and not just how we imagine people should act. This is the premise behind Behavioral Recruiting- using behavioral science and apply it to recruiting.



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