Sorted!: Summary & Review (Kevin Dutton)

Sorted! book cover

Sorted! is a self-help book by Kevin Dutton and Andy McNab. It can be considered a book on dark triad traits, and how those traits can be used for good.


About the Author:
About the Authors: Kevin Dutton is a British psychologist, researcher, and author. He previously published “The Wisdom of Psychopaths“ and “The Good Psychopath Guide“.
Andy McNab is a former British Special Air Service (SAS) operator, novelist and, supposedly, a psychopath.

The 7 Deadly Wins

The authors repeat the 7 laws of their previous book, which are:

  1. Just do it: don’t waste time overthinking it. You don’t need like feeling to do something to just do it.
    1. Procrastination prolongs the pain in the short term, arms you in the long run, and wastes mental resources
    2. We overplay the risks compared to the rewards. Psychopaths are very reward-driven and don’t fall for that mental bias
  2. Nail it: you must learn how to switch one when it really matters, and play to win. The difference between the good and the great is that when it matters the good ones get 80% out of themselves, while the great ones get 100%.
  3. Be your own person: psychopaths are not afraid of not fitting and doing their own thing, no matter what others think.
    1. Know what you want to be, and know what you don’t want to be
    2. Learn to withstand social pressure, to say no when you don’t want something, and to enforce your boundaries
  4. Become a persuasion black belt: “getting into the minds of their preys give them a distinct advantage”
    1. Frame it as if it’s within their self-interest to do it
    2. Make them feel good about doing what you want them to do
    3. Learn how to empathize to tailor your message to the target
    4. Learn how frames work, and how to control the frame to persuade others 
  5. Take it on the chin (move on): Move on. Don’t beat yourself up and abandon all the regrets. “Let go, or be dragged”.
    1. Ask yourself: “what would I do if I didn’t take this personally” and “what would I do if I didn’t feel the heat”
    2. Stop taking accusations personally. First of all, we over-attribute intent to what people say or do. And even if they meant it, the problem is with them, not you.
  6. Live in the moment: be focused when it matters. Psychopaths share this trait with elite Buddhist monks and great athletes.
    1. Anxieties often stem not from reality, from anxieties of our own anxieties (second-order emotion)
  7. Uncouple behavior from emotions: take a spet back and remove emotions from the situation
    1. Studies show that imagining to make a difficult phone call is more nerve-wracking than doing it. So just take action.
    2. Ask yourself: “what would I do if I didn’t feel this way”, “what would I do if I didn’t give a damn what others thought”, “what would I do if it just didn’t matter”

Too Much Psychopathy Is Dangerous, But Some Psychopathy Is Good

Mimicking what he said in his previous two books, Dutton repeats that low levels of psychopathy traits can be helpful in life.

He says about the double-edged sword of psychopathy:

If you lie out in it from dawn to dusk it will burn you to a crisp. You’ll have what amounts to personality cancer. But at low levels, it’s a different story. Take it a bit easier and psychopathy can do you good. It’s personality with a tan.

Learn to Say No

Too many people are too agreeable, too afraid of saying no.

If you’ve been too nice, for too long, start with these first:

  • Not this time
  • I’ll think about it: good delay tactic to say “no” from a safe distance
  • I’m afraid I can’t, but have you considered… 
  • I’d love to, but…

The Steps of An Elevator Pitch

I like these 3 steps for an effective elevator’s pitch.

  1. Explain what you do
    1. What PROBLEM you SOLVE
    2. What NEED you MEET
    3. What VALUE you PROVIDE
  2. Identify your USP
  3. Invite feedback

Most of all, I liked N.3, which most guides on elevator pitches often seem to miss.

So this is how it sounds all together:

Hi, I develop mobile apps that organizations use to train their staff in their own time. This takes a significant chunk off the manager’s workload.

Unlike most other developers, our apps are tailor-made to suit individual requirements within individual organizations. Although this takes a bit more time, it means tha, 95 per cent of our clients are satisfied with the first version of their app.

At the moment, how does your company go about training new people?

Learn Empathy to Influence Others

Empathy is crucial to influence others.

But it’s not the empathy that most people think, because most people get empathy wrong.
Says Dutton:

Contrary to popular belief, empathy is not about showing concern for other people.
That’s sympathy.
Instead, empathy is about being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, to see things as they see them.

And he continues:

In the corporate arena then, this is what empathy is all about: working out what makes others tick and second-guessing what they’re going to do. Nine times out of ten the answer is simple: What’s in it for me?andWhat am I going to get out of it?”

Also read:

Don’t Jump to Conclusions When Studying People

Says Dutton:

As soon as someone starts telling us about something that’s happened to them, we immediately compare it with similar things that have happened to us, and assume they feel like we did.
But do they? Actually, chances are they may not.

So don’t rush to conclusions. 
And don’t jump in with your “I, me, mine” stories, but keep listening and digging.

How to Bond With People Using Their Own Secrets (Manipulative)

This is a technique Dutton describes in the previous books as well, and it works like this:

  1. Open up yourself first
  2. When they open up, encourage them to speak more with nods and empathy
  3. Once they shared something important, immediately change the subject. They will forget they just told you that
  4. A month or two later, modify what they said, and paraphrase it back to them as if you were opening up to them

After that, says the author:

BAM! From that point on, you can pretty much take what you want.

My Note: not sure this works as well as the author simply
What happens when someone is opening up about a secret or emotional pain point in their lives, and you immediately change topic? It comes across as very emotionally stupid and completely insensitive.
You likely lose a lot of points with them.
And I also doubt that people will forget that they shared their vulnerability, since they tend to be such emotionally laden conversations.
The author was indeed sharing this technique from a conman, and you know that you can’t really trust a conman.

Also read:

Manipulation: Techniques, Strategies, & Ethics

Think of Every Problem As Having a Solution

Just as simple as that.
It will help you to solve far more problems that you would otherwise just stop you.

How to Pick Up Girls: Gimmicks

Here is how two guys picked up girls fabricating lies about themselves:

  1. Selection: pick two girls you both like, far from each other who can’t see themselves
  2. Contact: get the girl’s name – including surname – and a bit of background information
  3. Withdrawal: reconvene and trade information
  4. Analysis: access the two girls’ Facebook profiles. Scrutinize the pages for particular ‘likes’ – actors, singers, musicians, TV shows, etc: the more obscure the better – and select a couple they think would go down well. Let’s say one girl is a huge fan of Game of Thrones and the other is big into Coldplay.
  5. Prep: both guys change each other’s names on their phones to Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones) and to Chris Martin (the Coldplay frontman)
  6. Approach: they cold-approach their target girls (the ones their friend spoke first)
  7. Set-up: steer the conversation into the general direction of what they do for a living (one is in TV and the other in music, of course)
  8. Cue 1: leave the mobile phone in plain view on the table in front of the girls, and call each other. The caller? Peter Dinklage and Chris Martin
  9. Taxi: once the guys have super high value in the eyes of the women, invite them home

My Note: Really interesting technique
A bit convoluted, but this was genius and it might work. 
Would like to try it one day, actually.

Also read: 

Psychopaths’ Sexual Strategy: Marauders of Sex

Make People Flatter… Themselves

Flattering is good, but even better is if you provide people with the opportunity of flattering themselves in front of you.

Says the author:

It’s a triple whammy!
Because if somebody tells you something good about themselves their brain infers – at a subconscious level – that there has to be a reason. And the only reason there could possibly be is … because you’re important!

True that.
It’s also an under-the-radar way of setting up a judge frame. 
Also read:


The Judge Role: A Tool For Power & Control

Be Nice: Give People Power Over You, & They Will Be Nice In Exchange

Kevin Dutton showed a group of traffic cops (unluckily he doesn’t say the number) two different videos.

One video showed a guy using a confrontational attitude and arguing with the cop, not admitting guilt.
The other one used an appeasement strategy. 

95% of the cops said they’d write a ticket to the confrontational guy but they’d let the “nice” one go.

So, how does the nice guy manage to get off the hook?

Well, it’s all about dropping confrontational frames and embracing collaborative frames.

Says the author:

‘the driver immediately convinces the officer that, far from being a rival, he’s actually on his side,’ observes Andy.
‘Which, when you think about it, is exactly what you want to do when you meet anyone for the first time – not just when you get pulled over by the fuzz. I know, it sounds like common sense 101.
But when you read all the geeky human resources stuff about managing first impressions, it’s incredible how often basic human virtues get elbowed out to make room for all that mirroring and cold reading and NLP crap. OK, there might be something in it, but there’s a hell of a lot more in simply being pleasant.

Smart social strategists prefer to use collaboration as a first step:

Life Strategy: The Enlightened Collaborator

And for the practical steps of traffic tickets?
Read here:

Real-Life Applications

  • Get a grip on your email: emails can be addictive, and they are distracting to get work done. Designate a time in the day you will check and answer emails, and don’t let them distract you
  • Practice well to maximize your time: practice deliberately, and work with breaks, maximizing for your circadian rhythms, and take battery-recharging naps (see “When” by Daniel Pink)
  • Look the part: the movers and shakers want to be seen with people that other movers and shakers would talk to (also see: executive skills to look the part)
  • Listen more: to listen well, caring and compassion are not prerequisite, and many great listeners are con-artists
  • Avoid cliches’ because they minimize other people’s problems and break rapport: things such as “plenty of fishes in the sea” or “nobody died” break rapport. Also read “how to comfort people” and “what to say when someone died” to learn more about what to say
  • Avoid bragging, be more strategic with self-promotion: bragging makes you come across as a blow-hard. Give credit instead, it’s a far better social strategy.
  • Men with shaved are seen as more dominant


On body language:

Much has been written on body language and the like down the years, and frankly a lot of it is bollocks.

On creationism and the U.S.:

The rest really is history. These days even Americans have come to embrace evolution. Some of them, anyway.


  • Some inconsistencies with previous books

In the previous book, I remember McNab saying that he gave up sugar one day, and that was it.

Here, it says that “you don’t want to be standing behind McNab in the queue at Costa Coffee if they run out of his favorite chocolate gold coins”.

Sure, it’s a small thing.
But if one is not being straightforward with the small things, can you fully trust them for the bigger ones?

  • Some made up evolutionary psychology

Kevin Dutton says that without psychopathy we would have perished as a species.

He says:

If our prehistoric ancestors some two hundred thousand years ago hadn’t included among their number the ruthless, the resilient and the risk-takers, we would’ve perished, in an evolutionary eye-blink, on the Palaeolithic killing fields of deepest, darkest Africa.

However, that’s his own opinion, there is no widely accepted or evidence-based theory in evolutionary psychology to corroborate the thesis that “without psychopaths we would have gone extinct”.

  • Some jokes are in bad taste

The authors call the critics and “trolls” of their previous books “fruitcakes”, which in UK is a derogatory term for gay people. 

Or using known cases of pedophilia to crack jokes:

‘Perfectionism is to self-esteem what Jimmy Savile was to child-minding,’ says Andy. ‘A complete no-no. 


  • Some great wisdom

There is much good wisdom here on how to persuade and influence others, as well as some good information on general life effectiveness and assertiveness.

  • Some funny jokes

For example:

Andy: ‘A woman came up to me at a book signing once and told me she’d had her nipple pierced.’
Me: ‘Really? What do you say to that?’
Andy: ‘There’s only one thing you can say to that: I don’t believe you!’


I love Dutton’s trilogy on how psychopathic traits can help succeed.

I can’t stand fake self-help advice based on platitudes and hypocrisy. 
“Sorted!” instead is more amoral. Not in the sense of inviting readers to be amora, but in the sense that it’s based on what works. A bit like “The 48 Laws of Power“.
Or like Power University, for that matter.

Sometimes it felt a bit like a mix of random psychological advice loosely connected to psychopathy.
But there is also much great information on the basics of persuasion and social skills. 

Overall, thumbs up.

Check the:

or get the book on Amazon

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