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Fear of Pitching & Psychopaths: Dr Perpetua Neo Podcast #9 & Video – Part 2

Interview part 2 with the brilliant and highly successful psychologist Dr Perpetua Neo.


  • Why are psychopaths so good at persuasion?
  • How do we defeat psychopaths?
  • How do we overcome the fear of pitching?

Educated at Cambridge and UCL Perpetua has written for Forbes, Business Insider and Huffington Post. One of her specialisms is how to handle ‘toxic people’ in the workplace.

Interview Part 2 of 2

Podcast #9 How to Overcome Fear of Pitching and Psychopaths - Dr Perpetua Neo Interview

by Andrew Tollinton




AT: So Perpetua I think there are lots of people that are good at pitching and there are some people sometimes and they appear in films, who are utterly convincing all the time and they’re able to influence their partners, they’re able to influence the people they work with but eventually there’s a big downfall and they come tumbling down. Tell me, have you come across anyone that’s like that, that’s just utterly convincing to everybody?

PN: Actually I have come across quite a few people like that and again with regards to people the dark triad type personality types that’s exactly the kind of people, they tend to be very charming, very persuasive, they know how to get under your skin. So those people you know like often I don’t know whether you’ve heard ofBrené brown? She talks about the power of vulnerability being raw and that’s connecting the people in that way and vulnerability is a really great asset for people to understand each other but, there’s this dark triad personality type. They take it a step further so they get news, they tell you information about yourself, they get to probe your deepest darkest secrets.

They’ve got this weapon in their arsenal they use it against you so those people actually probe and understand what makes you tick, what makes you see, what makes you feel insecure, and leverages insecurities to pitch to you that they are what you need.

Okay in a business sense or personal sense they can be very persuasive so they turn from being somebody as a friend into a foe really quickly. Because they understand you they know the things that will annoy you and upset you and then they deliberately deploy that knowledge to control you.


Dealing with Psychopaths

AT: What’s the best way of dealing with these people are they psychopaths?Would you describe them as psychopaths?

PN: Okay you know to be a psychopath ithas to pervade every single area of your functioning so your personal relationships though your career your love life everything else..

AT: So let’s call them nearly Psychopaths or psychopathic, how do we then, how do you then control someone that’s like a psychopath?

PN: You don’t control them okay, because they spend a whole life perfecting the art. You know imagine you run into a 40 year old psychopath this person has had say at least in five years or 35 years of expertise in being Rasputin; in treating people as puppets so there’s no way you are going to be able to win them and do you really need to win?

AT: I don’t know, I mean how do I defeat them, what do I do? Do I just let them play with me?

Defeat Them?

PN: Just got to make sure you don’t tell them too many things. It’s something that I’m really passionate about is actually educating people on what a psychopath is and what are the red flags okay so when you recognize that’s
 when you know when to walk away.

AT: Because in pitching I know a lot of people that work in teams will come across psychopaths — somebody or someone — they are hugely influential, they’re quite successful but they’re also very damaging with an organisation. Scorched earth policy. What then are they — just give me a couple of the red flags to be able to identify that person.

PN: Manipulation.


PN This person can be extremely manipulative and charming at the same time so they play people against each other so essentially if you’ve got a team that tends to be quite close to each other and you see that smaller deflections, fractures here and there, you might speak with them and figure out what’s going on. And it could be this psychopath has been feeding different stories to play a person against another or another form of manipulation.

They take credit for everything you do and there’s no sense of remorse so that’s how you figure out of it this person may not be very healthy for this group or this organization or this pitch, because eventually they’re going to take the glory for themselves.

Another thing would be if you can always do a background check, so we’re not talking about hiring a private eye and doing a comprehensive check we’re talking about, you know, if there’s any mutual friends that you know ask what’s going on because often they will have left a trail of destruction. So for instance in say in Romance, okay, I know this person who you know if you speak to their friends you know you find out about this thing when he said everyone a friend said, that ‘oh he once went to school dumped him’, he would want her back again so that he could dump her.

So basically if your mutual friends know that this person has this history you kind of know that you know this is somebody to be wary of okay and they leave a trail of destruction so we’re not just talking about romance. From here, in a previous job, in a previous team, that’s how you find out, so no remorse, manipulative and a trail of destruction, a history of being damaging to other people. These are three things to look out for — Psychopaths.

AT: Fascinating, thank you Perpetua.

Getting Over Nerves When Pitching

AT: Perpetua I do a lot of pitching and I do a lot of public speaking but I still get nervous before I do it. I get nervous particularly when I’m pitching into an entirely new sector or there’s it’s a really important pitch I do feel the nerves so even though I’d pitch all the time and I practice two or three times a week let alone pitching that much I still get nerves.

Now I know for other people they talk about nerves and they feel like there’s a rash that comes up and they feel like everyone’s looking at them, they become slightly paranoid, they forget things and they come off after a pitch saying I forgot all these things — and I’d look at them and I would say — but, look you did well how can you think that you did so badly? And these people suffer from a terrifying level of nerves, sometimes the nerve stops them from pitching all together.

I am now in the chair — I have a problem with nerves — talk to me Perpetua how on earth am I going to get over my nerves?

PN: So tell me, it was it like when you go up to a new person in any social situation for your party to be networking how do you feel?

AT: I feel like they probably don’t want to talk to me and maybe they judge me but I always try and make an effort.

PN: And when you make an effort, after you make the effort how do they respond to you?

AT: I know, they respond positively back to me.

PN: And how does that make you feel after that?

AT: I feel better but at the time… I feel better10–20 minutes later but at the time I just feel nervous….

PN: And you know interactions — do you run it through your head and judge yourself for that?

AT: Yes. So perhaps the next day or on the way home I’ll think about it and I’ll say that was a lot better than I felt before but I can’t but help feel those nerves and anxiety before the event and at the event when I’m meeting people.

PN: So one really important thing is that for you, you don’t get obsessed with your performance after the event even though you’ve done well because, there’s a subset of people who do you know, no matter how long to perform they go — it was shit, it was terrible.

So for the next few week, it’s a really great thing that you don’t. So before your next interaction a really important thing would be for you to tap into that feeling of satisfaction after you have a great interaction with somebody else and always ask yourself, you know, why am I condemning myself to the worst possible outcome?

AT: You know and so, I would feel better if I after an interaction and I try and think about how positive feeling and I focus on that before I meet people?



So let’s give you an example on how to make it real okay. So you know that feeling of accomplishment of satisfaction after you had a really great interaction with somebody.

Where do you feel it in your body?

AT: I feel warm.

PN: Around — what colour?

AT: Orange

PN: Orange, fruit, very abundant lovely okay so before your next interaction, connect this orange fruit here, okay that anchors you there, so every time your brain goes but ‘the next time it’s going to be awful’ you know your mafia mind tries, so instead of shutting away like most of us do and getting really upset trying to be rational about it — because human beings are irrational. Right.

Instead you just go ‘I hear you, you are my muscle that is so big’ and it tells you keep telling me all this horrible things to myself and I hear you but I’m going to focus on this gorgeous orange feeling.

AT: So acknowledge the fear but think about the positives by relating it to an object from a feeling?

PN: Yeah.

AT: And bring that back to me so before I go in for it — so translating that to a formal pitch situation I can feel the anxiety building up, I recognize it, I acknowledge it and then I think about that colour the fruit and that feeling that I had after the event.

PN: Yes. Because that’s something, because all those memories are stored in our body, in ourselves, you can’t just talk painful memories or happy memories away or into you so you got to find a way of tapping into this feeling that exists in your body….

And another thing would be you know often people believe that if I am fearful there’s something wrong with me.

But fear – it’s just evolutionary so, I often explain why we have fear – fear teaches us to run away to, you know, adrenaline surges through our body to charge us up to fight or run away so, anxiety, that adrenaline is completely natural and can be channeled positively or negatively.

AT: Yeah and I’ve got to see the anxiety recognize it acknowledge it and then make sure it works towards me

PN: Yes.

AT: But I consciously do something about that so before I go into a pitch into a room full of people who to whom I’m pitching I would concentrate my case on orange on, an orange feeling?

PN: That’s really unique to you. Okay, because you don’t want your brain to sabotage yourself.

Okay — I’ll tell you all the things about — ‘you’re so bad you’re never going to do well’. You want to concentrate on your victories because that’s the only way in which you’re going to develop competence. So the slogan I’ll tell my clients is something I made up, that’s called ‘doing is believing’.

AT: Okay

PN: The more you do it the better you’re going to get even if you do and you do badly and that’s okay it’s just feedback, because some days you’re just going to feel not so good about yourself, because the day just was crappy. You know sometimes for instance, people died in your life and you’re not going to be at your optimum performance — you got to let yourself have space to be a human being so anybody can get over that level of anxiety, yes

AT: And everybody can pitch?

PN: Yes

Dr Perpetua’s Fears

AT: Okay do you personally have any anxiety or fears when it comes to pitching or anything like that talking in front of lots of people?

PN: I used to have yes, just you know talking to new people I would consider myself as somebody who has social anxiety when I was younger, just that I never knew it had a name.

And then people started saying well when ‘you look so confident’, I was like that’s complete bullshit. As I grew older I started to realize that you know I can get over this, I can learn the right skills and I can trust myself, I can just be brave about it okay and so you know whether I think pitching is something that we do. Whether we are in formal setting or even meeting new people you’re pitching yourself.

But you got to take the whole stress away. You know if somebody doesn’t like you it’s okay sometimes people just don’t fit each other so you’ve got to think less about rejection and make it personal and maybe this person just isn’t right for me and, what can I learn from this how can I have fun doing this?

AT: Okay yeah that’s fascinating, thank you.