The Thousand Words You Don’t See – How Comparison Cripples


This article is taken from excerpts from my upcoming book. I invite you to stay connected as we endeavour to stop the spin cycle, kill comparison and all the other unhealthy places that we all find ourselves in.

The Thousand Words You Don’t See

The thoughts that are in this article have been rattling around in my head for weeks, maybe even months. I’ve been challenged by conversations I’ve had through the research stage of my book. I’ve also been disturbed by TV shows I’ve watched and the advertising campaigns I’ve deconstructed.

For whatever reason, women seem to continue to battle one another. There is an attempt to slay character and slice and dice leaving one another for dead. All of this is done through the sword of comparison. Has life really become a long form version of Mean Girls?

I understand the temptation to compare is alive and well. I also know that it’s a slippery slope and one that we can fall into very easily. Easier now with social media and our crazy notion that we compare our lowlights with others highlights.

Comparing Lowlights to Highlights

I’d like to remind everyone that the perfect selfie, food shot, holiday pose or decorated cake, bedroom shot is posted after much work. A selfie needs the perfect angle and usually consists of anywhere between 6-10 shots before one is chosen. The perfect food shot always has a clutter of other food items, measuring cups and spills pushed to the side. Holiday poses frequently have beautiful smiles that are covering up a fight that has happened in the lead up to the shot and the fight that will continue after posting the ‘perfect vacation’. And the decorated cake that looks like it comes from a magazine. Well, it’s usually posted after one cake has been tossed, sweat is trickling down your back and there is sugar everywhere.

Next time you decide to compare your life with a well-curated Instagram or Facebook post remind yourself that there is always more to a story. A picture does tell 1000 words but are those words seen in the image that has caught your attention? Think beyond what you see.

I’m writing this because as a woman who is about to turn 47 I’ve realised that at this age, we no longer look at anything in a comparison way. Instead, we see beyond, and there is a depth of knowing that is rich and lasting. It’s something I would love to share with my younger friends because this is something that will not only set you free from the inevitable jungle of comparison but will save you years of hurt, frustration, anger and even depression.

How do we stop Comparison?

How is this done? How does it happen? I hate to say it but it’s very simple. It’s in the seeing beyond. It’s finding the 1000 words of the story that aren’t in the picture. Now, at 47 when I look at my girlfriends, I see courage. Courage because when I look at her, I see the woman who has walked through cancer, the loss of a child, the pain of a breakdown. I see strength because she has been tested. Life has thrown her some major challenges and she has stood. Bravery because she has turned her face towards pain and she has walked through it scared. Sometimes she’s felt alone and has held onto whatever hope she can muster. And, she made it. I see confidence because of the story of her life when reflected on tells tale after tale of how she has walked with confidence even without knowing.

I see scars. Whether they be scars of beauty marks of a stretched tummy or backside that remain because of the life that she has carried. Maybe those scars are there due to the fluctuation in body size over the years. Whatever the case, we see beauty. The lines on her face tell me that she has laughed until her belly has hurt and she has cried until her bones have ached.

There is a statement that slips through our social feeds on a regular basis that says ‘Girls Compete, Women Empower‘. May we all become women who are willing and able to see beyond the filters that cloud our view and understanding of the imagery of life.

For more articles that address the reality of Pain, Comparison, Loneliness, Living in Pain journey with us. We can’t wait to get this book into your hands and as always, feel free to send prayers, good thoughts and vibes my way as I write and create.

Much love,


Life Isn’t Perfect and the Sky Isn’t Falling

Life Isn't PerfectLife isn’t perfect but guess what? The sky isn’t falling… You’ll be okay! There is a word that has been making its way around social media spaces and blogs. From what I can see, it started with Glennon Doyle Melton, the founder of Momastery. The word is Brutiful. It’s usually used in reference to the lives we all live. Our lives are both beautiful and brutal at the same time which gives us brutiful.

This week I would say I’m having a brutiful week. In many ways I have felt like Chicken Little and that the sky is falling. Some days have been filled with the sunshine, great thoughts and high moments. Whilst others have been riddled with angst, frustration, anger and even hurt.

As I write this, I feel empowered. Empowered because I’m getting a little tired of the ‘life is so beautiful’ highlight reels that we seem to see everywhere. Whether it be on social media or conversation. And yes, I’ve been guilty the highlight reel which is why I started #realitygram101 on Instagram. #realitygram101 shows the real of life in all of its glory. I find it hard to believe that everything is rosy ALL THE TIME. (note: feel free to use the #realitygram101 tag and engage with us 🙂

I’ve been prompted to write a week wrap up today? Perhaps because I’ve had so many conversations this week with people who are in challenging times. I’ve had calls from friends and people in my life who are struggling. They are fighting with REAL issues that can’t be wiped away in an instant or with a ‘tomorrow is another day’ comment. The pain and struggles are real. I believe that the more we talk about these things, the more we let our truth out and are okay with it, the easier the journey to freedom. Through conversation with others and observation of my life, it’s apparent that our challenges are multiplied by the need to make it appear like we’ve got it all together. What rubbish! Find me one person who has it all together and lives the highlight reel and I’ll give you a million bucks.

I truly believe that the more we talk about these things, the more we let our truth out….. and are okay with it, the easier the journey to freedom. Through conversation with others and observation of my life, it’s apparent that our challenges are multiplied by the need to make it appear like we’ve got it all together. What rubbish! Find me one person who has it all together and lives the highlight reel and I’ll give you a million bucks.

My challenges this week:

1) My husband and I have had to say no to one of our children concerning something they’ve wanted to do and have planned. Timing and the details aren’t lining up, so we’ve had to say no when everything within me wants to say yes. I’ve had to stop myself from trying to renegotiate with my husband in an effort to change our no to a yes. I know the decision we’ve made is right, however, I hate seeing my kids disappointed. Especially in this instance. Life isn’t perfect!

2) Work has been a challenge on every side. Life isn’t perfect!

3) Hormones feel like they are locking and popping while breakdancing through my body. My memory is just a distant memory. It doesn’t seem to be filing and locating things like it did in my 20’s and that’s driving me nuts. Life isn’t perfect!

4) I’m desperately trying to get used to my eyesight changing. This is seriously driving me NUTS! Sounds stupid but I’m finding the transition literally to transition lenses debilitating. Life isn’t perfect!

5) We are in the middle of a small renovation that I thought would be completed by this Friday, and it’s only 1/4 of the way through. My house is riddled with bits and pieces everywhere and I DO NOT function well when this happens. Life isn’t perfect!

6) One of my children asked me this week, ‘why are you such a dick to us?’ Yep, that was an all-time high for me, and that question wasn’t even about point #1. It was a different situation altogether. Following the comment, I found myself weeping whilst perfecting the best gravy I had ever made for our chicken dinner last night. Yep, there I was stirring away and crying because my feelings were hurt and I was referred to as a dick! Was I that sensitive or could this be traced back to the dancing hormones? Life isn’t perfect!

After being called a ‘dick’, I reminded my child that I would have NEVER called my mother a dick and had I, the sky certainly would have fallen. I can’t even imagine.

The highlight of this experience was when this child apologised and realised where they had gone wrong. It was a touching moment and one that I’m sure I’ll experience again. A reminder that as a mother, your heart truly does walk around on the outside of your body. It’s amazing how words can hurt and words can heal.

I did get a chuckle this morning. I was standing in the shower, reliving the conversation of last night and the dick reference. My mind quickly went back to a scenario that my eldest daughter, Sophia, and I witnessed at the airport upon returning from our Christmas holiday. There was a family who, like us, were waiting for their baggage that seemed to be taking forever. The mother stood patiently with her youngest child and another who appeared to be about 13. Her older son and husband searched for their luggage. After hearing their conversation, it became apparent that her middle child was on the autism spectrum and was having trouble waiting for the baggage. Understandably because he, like the rest of us, just wanted to get home.

As time ticked on and our bags remained unseen, the frustrated child became more annoyed at the situation and verbalised his frustration to his mother. At one point, blaming her for a situation that was beyond her control, he shouted at her ‘I hope you choke on your tits’. Needless to say, my heart broke for this mother when I heard these words. Who would ever want their child to yell that at them in such a way? I could see the pain in her eyes yet her calm composure seemed to diffuse any tension or increased anxiety that could have developed.

With this comment and being a very visual person, you can imagine where my mind began to wonder. Jet lag was looming, and I was lost in thought about his statement and the ability to actually choke on one’s mammaries. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not possible.

I found myself giggling about the ridiculous comment that the beautiful boy had thrown at his mother. In her pain and hurt from that experience, did she or does she know that her story/journey has helped me walk through my hurt? Would she ever know that her, just being her, in that moment and not being phased by the prongs that words can have truly touched my heart? Would she ever know that whilst in the shower I found myself healing through laughter, not at her son but rather at the story of motherhood? How in the midst of pain, frustration and at times hurt motherhood remains one of the most extraordinary stories to be told. And, it’s through our experiences that others are built?

Life Isn’t Perfect…..This week the sky has felt like it was falling. The feeling that the walls were caving in and everything was all too hard was real. Yet, it’s been through the lives and truth of others that my spirits have been lifted.

I smile when I think about Thursday morning when my girlfriend phoned and as soon as I answered she said, ‘What’s wrong?’ My response was very ho-hum. She offered to buy me a coffee and come by to which I gratefully accepted. She arrived on my doorstep with a perfect coffee in hand, Turkish bread, honey and a bunch of daisies. She knew what I needed. I didn’t need her to solve my problem. I didn’t need her to show me that the sky wasn’t falling. I needed to sit, eat some toast and drink coffee. She lifted my spirits through something simple and uncomplicated by simply being.

Through our truth and vulnerability, we carry healing and wholeness. In truth, there is a great freedom that allows us to be who we were meant to be. We aren’t perfect and life isn’t perfect but in the imperfect, the sometimes painful and the hurt joy can be found. It’s here that we can honestly say that life, in its fullness is BRUTIFUL.

To all the mummas out there who have had a challenging week, who have know that life isn’t perfect, may your weekend be filled with scrambled eggs, buttery toast, morning walks, hot coffee and great weekend sex!

Susan xx

Neighbourhood Terrorism Alive and Well

Neighbourhood TerrorismI never imagined I would write an article with this title ‘Neighbourhood Terrorism Alive and Well’. The fact that I am is a sad reflection of recent events which have rocked my family. We have found ourselves targeted by hatred, ignorance and, quite frankly, absolute stupidity – Neighbourhood Terrorism

Yes, we’ve experienced hurtful words before. We’ve felt the sting of racism and the bite of careless comments made in poor taste, but never before have we needed to deal with such a torrent of vicious abuse, literally on our own doorstep. Never have we been faced with terrorism in our neighbourhood.

We love the community we live in. We’re not perfect, but we do our best to be good neighbours. So, it was a complete shock when I returned home a few days ago to find my youngest daughter clutching a vile and poisonous letter which had arrived through the post, claiming to be from our local community. Its accusations ranged from insulting and outrageous to downright ridiculous.

It’s hard to believe that someone in today’s progressive society would go to such lengths to anonymously vent their anger, and for that reason, I have included a full transcript of the letter at the end of this article, but, to summarise, it labelled us “filthy, disgusting, lazy animals” who needed to get help or move out!

Its author continued the vicious tirade claiming we did “not deserve to live there or in our lovely community, where everyone is talking about the lazy, dirty people,”and accused us of putting “our dirty mark” on the house and neighbourhood.

Now, we’re no neat freaks, but these accusations are pretty wide off the mark. If they weren’t so hurtful, they would almost be laughable! As I absorbed the contents of this poison pen letter, I could not help but consider that its language and hatred smacked of racism.

My husband, Philip, is Korean and I am Canadian. As a young, mixed race couple we endured the stares and ridiculous comments. People would ask me if my husband could speak English and, if so, was it with one of those weird accents. Ironic really, given that he’s fluent in three languages and can get by successfully in another two. Even more bizarre when you learn that he was educated at King George V international school in Hong Kong and went on to study at Rhode Island’s Brown University before launching his career in the financial markets. My son too has heard words of hate on the soccer field, being referred to as the “f***-ing Asian c*#%”.

None of this is okay!

The definition of ignorance is lacking in knowledge or training; unlearned, lacking knowledge or information as to a particular subject of fact; uninformed; unaware.

So, as with many sayings that bounce around our conversations, I would suggest that, in this context, the phrase “Ignorance is bliss” is not correct. In fact, ignorance is empty, shallow, lacking in any depth or deserving of notice.

I feel compelled to respond to the ignorance that has literally fallen at our doorstep. Having lived in Hong Kong, USA, Canada and now Australia, it is in this country that we have experienced some of the worst expressions of ignorance in more than 20 years together. The New South Wales region we call home is geographically stunning and enjoys a strong sense of community. Our family has made so many amazing friends here who have welcomed us with open hearts and open homes.

It’s disappointing then when a letter like this reflects such ignorance in our society. It comes only a few weeks after a Korean shop-keeper in our neighbouring town was beaten up amid a tirade of racial abuse: Korean-born shop owners bashed in racially motivated late-night attack at Terrigal. Another horrific example of neighbourhood terrorism that is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

The anonymous letter we received was delivered one week ago. I have taken time before responding to consider its contents and speak to many in our community whose views it claims to represent.

Not one of them has endorsed it, nor do they have any knowledge of it being sent. In fact, all of those I spoke with were extremely disheartened by it. Their collective expression was that we were wrongly represented. It was through these conversations that I was prompted to go to the press, to send the letter to the newspaper and radio stations. The lovely people in our community were outraged on our behalf and for that I’m grateful. We have taken a little time to respond as we wanted to make sure the ‘sting’ was gone from our voices and, more importantly, that no bitterness had landed in our hearts. You see, words like this can hurt and for a moment they did, but when you consider the source and the motivation, the sting lessens.

As with anything that comes your way and rises against you, it’s often wise to take a look at yourself, own what you need to own then reject what you need to reject.

So here’s my response to the author of that letter:

Gardening: I don’t enjoy it. In fact, none of us do. We like the challenge of growing food and planting what we will eat but regarding mowing the lawn and trimming trees on a weekly or bi-weekly basis – I’m happy to give it a miss. We do have a gardener who comes and takes care of the lawns and trees for us. So, if you walk by and struggle with the grass that has grown a bit too long or the trees that need trimming, perhaps instead of looking at our garden you should tend to your own. Your words would indicate that much work needs to be done.

Indoors: The inside of our house can get messy. It’s never dirty because we love our home, and our amazing cleaner comes every week to help us keep everything in check. But, when it comes to things getting untidy at times, we love it because it means life is happening. Family coming together with friends and truly living in a community. We celebrate, we cook, we sing, we dance, and we enjoy life. We don’t live in a show home; we simply live in a home, and we endeavour to create a haven for family and friends to run to.

Interestingly, the week you sent this letter our kitchen was bursting with mess. It was bursting because I took a day off work and cooked. I cooked for a family who has just lost a husband and father far too early. I cooked for a mother of three who is in desperate need of back surgery and can hardly move. I cooked and made a mess so our family could bless people in our lovely community, so we could lend a hand and fill gaps when life was hard. So, for the extra garbage that may have come from that – because I’m sure my bins were bursting over – I’m not sorry, because that reminds me that the pain we all feel through loss means that we can love deeply. The time it took to cook and the sacrifice of a day off work means we care beyond ourselves, and we are happy to let go of pride and what our life may look like to help others put the pieces of life together. May our bins forever overflow!

As for the surfboards around our pool, the dog-chewed soccer balls and the odd abandoned beach towel, may there be many more. They remind me that my kids and our family and friends have had a fun-filled day. That we are all exhausted and have squeezed the last moment out of the day before collapsing, exhausted but content, into our beds.

For the noise we make, whether it be contagious laughter, a fight or a dance party, I hope you will one day/night join us. We laugh because we love, we fight because we love and we dance because we love and we celebrate. May your home be filled with the beautiful sounds and sights of a life well lived.

As for the ignorance in your letter, the toxic words intended to hurt and instil fear, we reject your terrorism. We choose to live beyond ignorance and we are proud of that.  Your letter defines you more than it does us. We hope you will take a good, hard look in the mirror and choose to be kind, to love and to respect. To understand that terrorism never wins. And although you think your letter and your opinion of us matters, you need to know that it doesn’t. Your opinion of us in no way changes who we are and in no way impacts us. In fact, you’ve given us a beautiful opportunity to look once again at life and teach our children how not to behave. Your letter has reminded us that we need to stand up, to use our voice and to speak for others who suffer from the words, hands and actions of ignorant people.

So, thank you for showing us that right at our back door, in our neighbourhood, there is so much work to be done. That we need to do better. That we as the human race (because there is only one race) need to live stronger. Thank you for giving our family the opportunity to grow and for motivating us to be an even brighter light in our community.

You hoped your letter would devastate and distract us. For my 10-year-old daughter, it momentarily did, but she has been raised in a family where love prevails. So your words fall on dead ground. They take no root and they will go only to the place they belong – the garbage.

The truth about our family is that we are kind. We are compassionate. We do our best to speak life everywhere we go. We choose, even in this situation, to love you, but we expose this event because when the truth is out, you can walk through anything. I believe that you do not speak on behalf of our entire community in North Avoca. In fact, I believe that when the whole community learns of what you are endeavouring to do and spread, you will see the community come together. There will be a loud voice that lets you know that Neighbourhood Terrorism will not survive in our lovely community. May I suggest, that when walking by our lovely home, please feel free to wave, stop for a chat or, if you want to, look the other way. Either way, we are fine.

A quote by J.M Barry is one we should all remember: “Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.”

Below is the letter that was sent to us anonymously through the postal service and a beautiful reply written by our 17-year-old daughter.

To The Animals that live at no ** Surf Rider Ave.

 The locals of North Avoca are disgusted that you can live in this once beautiful house and live in it like housing commission.

 We drive and walk past every day and are so ashamed of how you have let this property go, (are you not embarrassed.) 

We all watched on as this house was transformed for many years into a unique home, and the hard work that was put into it, and within a month you put your dirty mark on it and this is how our neighbourhood watches you live.

You obviously have absolutely no pride in your house, your gardens, (OR YOURSELVES) so why don’t you get some help.

Or better still move to housing commission as that is where you filthy lazy animals belong.

We all hope you can start to pick up the newspapers and stop leaving shit everywhere, you do not deserve to live there or in our lovely community, where everyone is talking about the lazy dirty people in Surf Rider.

Would hate to think what that pool and inside looks like, maybe we should all pray for you.


And the reply written by our eldest daughter:

To the residents of North Avoca,

 I am very sorry if this matter does not involve you, but this letter is intended for the group of individuals or the sole person responsible for the rude, abusive, anonymous letter delivered to my home. 

Seeing as you were too much of a coward to identify yourself, I am afraid that the whole neighbourhood needs to become aware of the situation at hand. Your letter would have been deemed inappropriate regardless of the circumstances. However, it is even more so seeing as the content of your letter was discovered by my 10-year-old sister who is now very distressed.

First off, I would like to apologize to the neighbourhood that our council clean-up was not picked up promptly. I understand that for whoever wrote this, it is an aesthetical inconvenience for you and must cause much angst seeing as you suggested that my family and I move to a “housing commission” where us “filthy lazy animals belong”. I am very curious as to why you have no issue writing these statements that are offensive. Statements that hold extremely derogatory implications for those who actually do live in housing commissions, in my opinion living in one DOES NOT result in you being a “filthy disgusting, lazy animal” but I wonder if you would feel this strongly and have the courage actually to say this to our faces. Would you be able to approach me (a 17-year-old girl) and tell me that I need to pick up my act “or move to Mount Druitt”? 

In fact, this situation would not have caused this complication if you had simply knocked on our door and let us know that this bothered you so greatly. If you had done that we would have invited you in and let you know that the solution was in the works. You might even learn that we do have pride in ourselves, pride in ourselves that you accused us of not having. 

Not that you deserve any form of explanation because of the way you dealt with this issue, but I understand that the stuff on our lawn could have been of a burden to others in our community. So I apologize that we were not more vigilant in booking our council clean-up, and that issue, as you can see, has been resolved. That fact does not make us lazy, I think that everybody has jobs to do, school to attend, and lives to live so sometimes things get busy and as a fellow human being I think that fact is a fairly easy one to grasp. 

So to whoever believes that we are leaving “shit everywhere” and “do not deserve to live there or in our lovely community”, I simply wish that you would have had the decency to come and address this matter maturely. It is hard for a family who has moved across the world multiple times to continue with our lives and also to get settled in a new home. Develop some compassion and maybe next time you have to deal with something like this, offer a helping hand not destructive, hurtful words that contradict the “lovely community” you described. You told me I should be ashamed, but perhaps you should, “maybe we should all pray for you”. If you have any questions or issues, please feel free to pay a visit but leave your hostility at home. 

GetRealLive Talks With Corporate Coach Ben Young About Energy Levels and Andi Andrew

GetRealLive was back at it today with all the latest! Corporate Athlete Coach Ben Young joined us to talk about energy levels. Ben talked all about how your emotional state can dramatically affect your energy levels and also highlighted other key factors. Listen as Ben motivated us and gave pratical tips when it comes to strengthing your overall health.

Andi Andrew joined us from NYC to dicuss Social Media and how Instagram has become a popularity contest for adults. Andi always is fun, witty and inspiring with her down to earth approach to  everyday topics.

The Buzz included Starbucks has released it’s most expensive cup of coffee. How much are you willing to pay for your brew? The US lottery is at $500 million and Susan and Scott discussed what they would do with the money.

That Should be A Crime asked the question if ‘passing gas in public’ is a crime. People jumped in on Facebook and weighed in with their opinions as this is an issue really got people stirred up.

Listen below on demand, Podcast or download from iTunes. Keep up with GetRealLive on Facebook and Twitter and email us at as we love to hear what you are thinking!

Listen to internet radio with Susan J Sohn on Blog Talk Radio
Ben Young
22 Things The Sales Clerk Won’t Tell You

Thanks to Our Friends at Readers Digest, here are some secrets from the retailers you should know!

1. The greeters who welcome you to our store aren’t really there to greet you. If we look you in the eye as you’re coming and going, you’re less likely to shoplift.

2. I won’t ask a yes-or-no question like “Can I help you?” Instead, it’s always an open-ended “What can I help you find today?”

3. Many retailers count the shoppers who come in, then calculate the percentage who actually buy something. If I don’t “convert” enough browsers to buyers, I hear from my district manager.

4. New merchandise goes at the front of the store, bargains at the back. The endcaps on the back side of aisles at Target, for instance, usually have items 15 to 75 percent off. If you want a deal, try to figure out when your favorite retailer does its markdowns. Some do them on Thursdays or Fridays, others at the end of the month.

5. When you ask me if something looks good on you and I suggest a different style, take the hint.

6. Sure, I’ll put that sweater on hold for you. But most of the time, you don’t come back. So don’t blame me if I sell it to someone else.

7. My pet peeve? Customers who paw through a stack of shirts. Now I’ve got to spend 15 minutes board-folding that whole pile again.

8. Even though most of us don’t work on commission, sometimes we’re given a salesgoal for each customer. If we meet it consistently, we’ll get bonuses and, eventually, a promotion. So when I tell you about a pair of earrings that would go perfectly with that sweater, I might have an ulterior motive.

9. Please don’t tell the cashier no one was helping you after I brought you six different sweaters in the fitting room. It’s rude.

10. Plenty of stores have great prices on Black Friday, but mine isn’t one of them. Still, you line up and wait for us to open.

11. What is it about fitting rooms that brings out the worst in people? You stick gum to the walls and even leave dirty diapers in there.

12. After you buy something, keep your receipt and pay attention. Most mainstream retailers promise a refund if the item goes on sale within a certain number of days after you buy it. Websites like track the prices of hundreds of products from retailers such as Best Buy, Amazon, and Sears.

13. With savings clubs, e-mail deals, coupons, Internet discount codes, and other incentives, fewer and fewer people are paying full price.

14. If a good customer buys a dress, I’ll hang it up for her and put it in a nice plastic bag. But if you’ve been rude to me, I’ll smush it into a bag that’s too small.

15. It is way tacky to buy placemats, use them for your party, then return them to the store. At least wipe off the food crumbs first.

16. If you don’t know a store’s hours, call. We hate the people who come in five minutes before we close and want to shop for a whole wardrobe.

17. Some of us will tell you anything to make the sale. Especially if you haven’t been nice.

18. Literally everyone who returns anything broken claims it broke the first time they used it, no matter when they purchased it. Um, yea right.

19. If you want some extra attention or you need something special, call ahead and see if the store will let you make an appointment for a private visit. In a lot of stores, especially upscale ones, clerks are willing to open a little early or stay there a little late for a loyal customer.

20. Everything gets marked down eventually. Watch and wait for the discount, then pounce.

21. Outlet stores likely sell special outlet merchandise, and it’s not the deal you expect.

22. If I’m $200 from my sales goal and having a tough day, and you ask me if it’s going to be cheaper tomorrow, I may lie.

11 Signs Your Boss is a Psychopath

Kevin Dutton is the author of The Wisdom of Psychopaths — What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success (Scientific America/FSG, $26). Here are 11 Signs your boss may be a psychopath! 





1. Emotional powerplay

Psychopaths are social chameleons and can change their psychological spots in the blink of an eye if they think they can benefit from doing so. Playing on sympathy is a favourite weapon of choice.

Make no mistake: psychopaths are confident, outgoing and mentally resilient, hardly ever, in reality, feeling sorry for themselves. But they are also master manipulators and have no qualms whatsoever about tugging on our emotional heartstrings if it works to their advantage.

Sympathy is a powerful motivator – a fact not lost on psychopaths even though they never feel it – and they are extremely adept at eliciting pity and compassion.

WARNING LIGHT: Consistently poor behaviour with frequent appeals to mitigating circumstances and pleas for support and understanding is one of the psychopath’s most recognizable kitemarks – in both the corporate realm and that of everyday life.

2. Control freak

Psychopaths are emotional chess players and a psychopathic boss sees his employees merely as pieces on an invisible psychological chessboard: disposable, dispensable, superfluous.

Psychopaths love to pick people up, move people round, make people jump just for the sake of it – even if, sometimes, it’s not to their immediate benefit. Unnecessary rearrangements of workspace, the sudden imposition of unsocial working hours, and the promise of favours for dishing the dirt on colleagues are just a few psychopathic favourites.

WARNING LIGHT: If you’re left scratching your head on yet another occasion as you try to figure out the rationale for your boss’s behaviour – then the answer might be simpler than you think.

3. Charming

Psychopaths are past masters at making scintillating first impressions and possess an innate gift for making you feel as if you’re the only person in the room.

They are brilliant psychologists. They know that, through evolution, our brains are programmed to put a lot of store in initial encounters and so they bank substantial emotional ‘capital’ early in a new relationship by turning on the charm.

One psychopath I interviewed put it like this: “Charm is the ability to roll out a red carpet for those you cannot stand in order to fast-track them, as smoothly and efficiently as possible, in the direction you want them to go.”

WARNING LIGHT: If you suddenly find that the red carpet is rolled up and that the charm fades quickly during subsequent meetings with your boss leaving you feeling confused and vulnerable, you may well have a psychopath on your hands.

4. Parasitical

Irrespective of whether they play the charm, manipulation or sympathy cards, psychopaths are corporate vampires and are second to none in their ability to take you into their confidence and suck out valuable new ideas that may have been months in the planning.

A typical ploy is the use of reciprocity – a powerful tool of influence. A psychopath might open the bidding and ‘confide’ in you some low-level idea of his own in order that you follow suit with something better. Once in the psychopath’s possession however, the idea is then ‘confiscated’ and, somewhere down the line, suddenly becomes ‘theirs.’

WARNING LIGHT: If your boss has a habit of taking the credit for work done by others, it might be time to look for work elsewhere.

5. Deceitful

Psychopaths simply do not live by the same moral code as the rest of us, and experience little guilt or anxiety over telling lies – either to big themselves up, or to dump on others, or both.

In fact, it’s their consummate lack of remorse for misrepresenting the facts that is the single biggest contributor to their inordinate capacity for fabrication. They appear plausible and reasonable and their webs of deceit frequently contain a modicum of truth which they rely on as a safety net should their spurious cover stories come under too close a scrutiny.

WARNING LIGHT: If your relationship with your boss has been plagued by ‘misunderstandings’ and ‘false assumptions’ it might be time to face the real truth.

6. Narcissistic

Psychopaths are completely driven by their own hard-nosed self-interest. Though they may feign concern for others, appearing warm, considerate and even helpful, such interest is shallow and superficial and merely serves as the foreplay for future exploitation. For psychopath, read “ps-I-chopath.”

Psychopathic relationship patterns – in both personal and corporate settings – are stormy and transient. “Friendships” are often terminated without warning, and ties mercilessly severed once an individual ceases to “be of any use.”

Add to this an arrogant, grandiose and egocentric interpersonal style and you have on your hands a ruthless ambition machine with no “off “switch.

WARNING LIGHT: If your boss has been known to fire people for no apparent reason, or has an ostentatious and extravagant profile out of keeping with a more objective assessment of their standing, or has a habit of stealing the limelight…it’s time to leave them to it.

7. Non-stick

Psychopaths make expert defence attorneys and are supremely skilled at getting themselves off the hook should accusations of incompetence be leveled at them.

Not only do they never accept culpability, but they are also extremely adept at manufacturing evidence that lays the blame for their misdemeanours firmly at someone else’s door.

Psychopathic bosses have no qualms whatsoever in using their employees as ‘reputation shields’ to safeguard their own status within the company.

WARNING LIGHT: If your boss has landed you in it through no fault of your own, start asking questions.

8. Oscar nominated

The brain of the psychopath is wired up in a different way to the rest of ours.

In particular, the part of the brain responsible for emotion – the amygdala – is turned down, meaning that psychopaths do not experience the everyday feelings of fear, regret and disgust so familiar to normal folk.

But that doesn’t stop the psychopath acting scared, sorry or surprised in order to manipulate others. They are perfectly adept at putting on shows of emotion if it helps them get ahead.

A common example is extreme anger in response to a perceived personal insult, an alleged betrayal of trust, or the insufficient demonstration of respect for their authority. But such emotional pyrotechnics are purely for shock-and-awe purposes – coolly calculated psychological bombing raids aimed at minimizing the chances of any future “transgressions.”

WARNING LIGHT: If your boss is prone to extreme displays of emotion then quickly returns to normal as if nothing has happened, you should start to question whether he really feels anything at all.

9. Non risk-averse

Imagine someone who has a warped perception of speed: someone who, through some weird trick of nature, perceives things happening at a much slower rate than they actually do.

You wouldn’t want to get in a car with them, would you? Well, it’s exactly the same with psychopaths – except for speed, read danger.

The neural power-cut in the fear zip code of psychopaths’ brains means that things that would scare the hell out of the rest of us just don’t have the same impact on these ice-cool emotional androids.

This, of course, gives psychopaths their enviable sang-froid, their composure under fire – and explains why they often do quite well for themselves in high-wire professions such as the media, finance and certain echelon areas of the military.

But it can, at times, also lead to unnecessary risk-taking – and, to return to the speed analogy, can often result in the car veering out of control and crashing off the road as opposed to a speedier journey time (as if we need any reminding with the global financial crisis.)

WARNING LIGHT: Risky investments, unwise alliances, inappropriate behaviour, risqué comments… if this sounds like your boss you may want to look for another one.

10. Power-hungry

Psychopaths are attracted to positions of influence in which they can satisfy their need to control and manipulate others.

Last year, I launched the Great British Psychopath Survey. The survey is unique: the first of its kind to assess the prevalence of psychopathic traits within an entire national workforce. What would turn out to be the UK’s most psychopathic profession? I wondered.

The results made interesting reading. CEOs, media folk, lawyers, surgeons, police officers, the clergy…any line of work which boasts a definitive hierarchical infrastructure and affords a position of power over others which may be wielded with relative impunity is ideally suited to the psychopathic personality.

WARNING LIGHT: If your boss has a tendency to step on those beneath him but goes out of his way to impress those above him, it’s time to move sideways…to another department or company.

11. X Factor

Hollywood movies typically portray the psychopath as an intense, menacing figure who makes the hairs on the back of one’s neck stand on end – and there’s evidence to suggest this is true.

Psychopaths often do give out a certain ‘aura’ and folk sometimes report experiencing unnerving physical sensations in their presence such as “he sends a chill up my spine” and “he makes my skin crawl.”

WARNING LIGHT: If you sometimes feel uneasy around your boss, and are uncomfortable being on your own with him for any length of time, trust your gut instinct: GET OUT WHILE YOU STILL CAN!

GetRealLive Does Do You Remember

It was a crazy day on GetRealLive. Susan and Scott decided to walk down memory lane and laugh about the things we loved growing up. From TV Trays, Stacking stools, The Flintstones at lunch and enjoying A&W in your car with the tray firmly strapped to your window. What ever happened to that?!

Plus a Vancouver mom is letting her 5 year old pole dance for exercise. Susan definitely had some thoughts on that! Bring back the Canadian Fitness Test we say!

You can listen below on demand, on Podcast or download from iTunes. Keep up with GetRealLive on Facebook and Twitter. Join the conversation because Life is Boring without you!


Listen to internet radio with Susan J Sohn on Blog Talk Radio

GetRealLive- Gets you over your Mondayitis. Listen on Demand here.

You know that feeling on Sunday night when you think about going back to work? That feeling on Monday is a little thing we called “Mondayitis’. Listen on demand as Susan and Scott engage in Hot Topics and bring a little light to your Monday morning helping you ease into your week. Today we chatted about breaking up with a bff, crazy church signs that make us laugh and porn for mommies on the rise. Yeah, that’s what we thought! Plus, we speak to Tara Sheahan who teaches us the importance of practicing happiness and how that can affect our surrounding atmospheres.

Listen below or download from iTunes. Happy Monday!





Listen to internet radio with Susan J Sohn on Blog Talk Radio