Wednesday, December 03, 2008


The memoire below is a little study in the application of Jungian type theory.


Many years ago I left an underpaid research job to run a high-touch consulting group. My new boss, K., was an interesting guy. He had been a founder of the company, but had never surfed the growth of the organisation to its executive summits. The reason he remained a senior middle-manager was that he was ENFJ (think a male version of Germaine Greer).

K. was warm, emotional, paternal and the immediate recipient of the vexed issue of my under-remuneration. A few months later, he informed me that he had succeeded in getting me a substantial rise. What happened next changed our relationship for ever.

I nodded in appreciation and moved on to the next topic of our meeting. He looked surprised and nonplussed. “What’s the matter?” I said.

“You could at least show some gratitude.”

So here were my thoughts. I had been objectively underpaid for my new role. It was the job of my manager to fix this problem. Heavens, it was my day-job to fix problems and I didn’t expect personal gratitude for doing so. That was my job!

What I didn’t appreciate (typical INTP) was that in his psychological worldview he had gone out of his way to show appreciation of my abilities and to lobby for me in the organisation, and my lack of a warm, generous response wounded him deeply and forever. Instantaneously, I had moved from being a protégé to a viper in the nest.

I had a colleague, J., who with my later knowledge of the MBTI I would rate as ESTJ.

J. was somewhat vain and prickly, intelligent but not conceptual, and we were as alike as chalk and cheese. J. did, however, have the SJ traits of loyalty and hierarchy, and was able to give K. the kind of emotional support which I had so lamentably failed to provide.

After a while, I moved on and eventually J. got K.’s job when he retired.

A postscript: I was always rather fond of K., and even his rejection of me seemed curiously idiosyncratic and perverse, but not damning. On his final day there was a big farewell ‘do’ and people lined up to walk past him, shake his hand and wish him well.

I made the effort to turn up, and when I got to him, he was horribly embarrassed, turning away as if I was some spawn of hell itself. He could not bring himself to speak with me.

What a shame.