The sociopaths I have had the misfortune to know all watch people very closely, gauging their reactions & plotting their next move. They very quickly figure out how to present themselves in order to gain whatever advantage they happen to be seeking with each person they engage with. They will decide that one person will adore them and another will be appalled or frightened or awed and set about making it so. If they’re good enough at it, they will speak one sentence to a group of three and each will hear something different – a threat, a need, a sense of comfort, whatever it is that suits the sociopath’s need.
Managing how they are perceived is a constant concern which can give them an air of distraction. Even if you see what they are doing, it’s hard to tell if they realize what they are doing. Perhaps they simply don’t realize? In fact, these games they play are always on their minds.
Remember when people used to say they distrusted someone because they had “shifty eyes”? That wasn’t entirely without cause. If you watch a sociopath, and you catch them when they think no one is watching, they’ll be scanning the room. Not just when standing alone, but in the middle of intense conversations when the other person is so intent on what they are saying that they’re no longer focusing any attention on their conversational partner. The sociopath is still listening, still giving verbal signs of engagement, but their eyes are scanning around them, observing details, gathering data points they might be able to use later. If your eyes meet, the sociopath might wink and look away after taking note that you’re watching too.
Sociopaths are just very dispassionate observers. They may seem reactive, but if they lose control, it’s because they gave themselves permission to. They’re far more in control of themselves than you or I often are. At least the slick ones are. It’s what allows them to plot and scheme against everyone they come in contact with. So next time you’re in a crowd, see if someone nearby has shifty eyes and you just might catch a sociopath. Or they might catch you.
PS Don’t you love the new emoji they made for me?