Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test, reveals an interesting email he received from a reformed psychopath:
Well, lets look at what (bright) psychopaths are naturally quite exceptional at… We are good at identifying, very rapidly, extreme traits of those around us which allows us to discern vulnerabilities, frailties, and mental conditions. It also makes psychopaths supreme manipulators, for they can mimick human emotions they do not feel, play on these emotions and extract concessions.
But what are these traits really? – Stripped of its pejorative adjectives and mean application, it is a highly trained perception, ability to adapt, and a lack of judgment borne of pragmatic and flexible moral reasoning.
What I'm saying here is that although those traits can very easily (even instinctively) lead to dangerous levels of manipulation, they do not have to.