Go-Getter, Gladhander, Sociopath

I am fascinated by extremes in human behavior. I, like you, hate labels. However, I find it useful, when discussing a particular sort of rare person in-depth, to employ the use of labels for convenience. As you read, keep in mind that terms like 'Type A' and 'sociopath' contain broad cultural connotations that may rub you the wrong way. I've gone out of my way to explain, in detail, my own contextual associations with these terms, to avoid confusion. If you are still confused or irritated by the use of labels, then it's probably helpful for you to avoid this and wait for a less combustible topic to come along.

The extreme Type A personality is rare and worthy of discussion. This personality stays on a success-focused path by employing impatience, hostility, self-discipline, and self-interest. High energy, high enthusiasm people are common and not always deserving of the Type A moniker. Extreme Type A people, however, are rare, distinct, imitable and unforgettable. They are walking cartoons. They display controlling tendencies, as many do, but do so in a way that forces others to notice, whether they like it or not.

I can't imagine being so tightly focused and wound up all the time, and yet there they are, trudging ahead with bullish determination. The extreme Type A, based on my discussions with the few I have had dealings with, would rather tackle bouts of self doubt by obfuscating and bullshitting in order to move onto the next goal. They'd never dream of taking a moment to reflect. It's not that reflection is bad - it just takes too long, and shit doesn't get done when you reflect.  

Because of the extreme self-interest promoting the extreme Type A's interactions, political glad-handing is often an in-the-moment reflex rather than a learned discipline. This is why, for instance, the Type A may greet you with the same ice-breaker every time they see you, without evening realizing you've heard it before. If they hear of an interest you have, a song you like, a moment in your past that defined you, or some other vital piece of information, they will store it away and use it as a way of forging connections with you. While human beings do this often, and to good result, to bond with one another, the Type A's use of the tactic is slightly different in that it is employed much more clinically, less fluidly, and less intuitively. Every time they talk with you, their repetition of the same memes is a reflexive way of connecting with you, achieving a sort of cold connection that brings you closer to the deal and strikes a false sense of familiarity. This is common in politics and business, but it happens in interpersonal relations, too.

I think extreme Type A behavior, at times, overlaps with sociopathic behavior. I don't mean to imply murderous, criminal sociopaths, which is the popular association, but rather, people who just connect with others through a keen, observant, but highly cold and calculated assemblage of information. It explains the repetitive greetings, ice breakers, and talking points. It's why conversations with the extreme Type A always comes off as a little bit forced. For sheer tenacity, the type A sociopath gets major points. In business, it arguably takes the instincts of a sociopath to stay on top.

Raising investment capital in business is a skill that many Type As consider vital, and are usually very good at. It requires a sharp mind attuned to others' interests, facial expressions, and body language. Sociopaths can do this because they are highly observant creatures, watching your every inflection and facial tick for changes, and taking advantage at every opportunity. It can be a bit creepy interacting with a highly aggressive Type A, because in your dealings with him or her, you know they are silently observing you and filing things away for future use.

I'm a free-flow conversationalist, and there are moments, in meetings I've had with extreme As, that they were  genuinely 'put off' and deeply confused by something I've said. It wasn't because the content was upsetting, but rather, it flew off their radar and upset their formula. For a while, I wondered if I had said something wrong or offensive. It became clear over time, however, that we were simply confusing their conversational formula, which needed to stay on a certain path for them to maintain conversational momentum in their quest to dominate the discussion and get their way.

As an artistic personality, I can't imagine being constrained this way in my interactions. I can barely remember my age from one moment to the next, much less irrelevant trivia about others. If I remember something about you, it's because it connects with me on a deep personal level, or because it reminds me of something relate-able in my own life. For the extreme Type A on the lookout for capital, business partners, votes, or just friends, every interaction is a hidden object game, where each hidden item is a factoid about the other person to be used for strategic advantage. This seriously creeps me out, but at the same time, I marvel at the effectiveness of this tactic, especially in politics and business. To some degree, I am jealous of the extreme A's ability to get what they want, even if it alienates people like me. It works on just about everyone else, and perhaps most importantly, it gets results.


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