Tuesday, April 3, 2012
I hate you Myers-Briggs - Belfast
The thing I most hate about Myers-Brigs is that it's taken as a green light to those normally exhibiting good ol’ British self control to start self-obsessing all over the place.. "I thought I was a non-feeling person but turms out I really do care !" or "Don't mess with me coz I'm an ESTF !"....What ?! What did you say ? Stop right there, I don't give a damm about your stupid letters and stop talking about yourself ! It's deeply, deeply unsettling.
Anyhow, having been appointed recently to the role of Generalist Extrodinaire which comes with the keys to the executive loos, I was mortified upon discovering that the 'higher echelons' (cough, cough) are expected to engage in a focussed programme of self awareness in order that one might become an even greater leader. Gosh and gosh again. What exactly might this programme be ? Surely just a quick speed-read of a few of the latest trendy management books ? "Good to Great and Back Again", "The Allure of Toxic Leaders" (like the sound of that one) etc etc but no ! I've gotta a tree-hug and 'share' with fellow pretentious non-entities that line the corridors of make believe power. God, I hate being in a club that accepts me as a member
So we start with Myers-Briggs. I don’t want to fill in this bloody form of 80 questions that reduces every single human being on the planet into one of 16 personality types. How in the name of Nelly Fertardo could that possibly be ?!. One tick in the wrong box and I could suddenly discover I am a psycho - Go with the flow. Go with the flow. Don’t over reveal, steady as she goes boy. Play the game – remember the executive loo..And so into analysis with my 4 meaningless letters of ESTJ (deep down hoping that my tendency to obsession is not about to be revealed to all) But wait, the more enthusiastic members of the non-entity club have spotted these 4 letters of mine and one complete burke (who has worked with me for a quarter of a century) shouts out – “He’s not an E ! He’s and I”. “What the f** are you dribbling on about ?” say I trying to maintain a passive aggressive level of detachment and the same time inwardly panicking that ‘I’ is bad. At this point the ridiculously overpaid consultant / facilitator starts telling us all we are expected to act as One Team and that we are there to support each other. Bollocks, bollocks. He then turns to me and says “Well, what do you think you are ? An I – introvert, or an E – Extrovert’. So I blurt out “What the hell do you mean !? How dare you insult me with your bloody 4 letter bollocks ! I am obviously an E !! An E !! I am an extrovert !!” Then to my extreme displeasure, the masses start discussing my E/I balance as if I am not there.. “Listen to me ! I spend half my bloody life standing in front of the masses telling about things ! Of course I am an Extrovert “. Then a moment of silence. The consultant turns to me and with a pained expression of sympathy he says “But do you enjoy it ? Is it what you wanted to do ?”. He’s got me on the back foot but I come back fighting.”What the hell has that got to do with the price of eggs ! I do it coz I have to !” It’s weak and I know it. The caring, sharing team then spend the next half an hour trying to coax me out from under my desk. When I finally emerge, I wipe the tears away and sign the form in blood to confirm that, deep dowm, I am an ‘I’.
But there are some upsides. Our ‘One Team’ is sent to Belfast for a tree-hug with our NI cousins. And over a few beers in our hotel (which has the unfortunate record of being the most bombed hotel in Europe) we agree not to discuss Myers-Briggs (for fear of further kafuffle) and so focus on the ever-interesting pub staple topic of ‘My Favourite 3 Songs’. So what’s it going to be ? Do I reveal myself even further to this new set of friends ? “Well,” I start without really thinking this thing through properly “It’s going to be tough because there are about 250 songs to choose from of course..” Raised eyebrows around the table..”I think about this all the time..” Some start to shuffle a little..”but I would have to go with Sexy Sadie, A Day in the Life and err...probably In my Life”. One of them then mumbles “So, you’re a Beatle fan then..?”. Then they spot my Beatle cufflinks, then notice my tie has a pattern of (subtle, I think) little Apples. The person opposite then points out that my socks say Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. As I walk back to my hotel room I swear I hear one of them whisper “I knew he was an 'I'”.
I read that it is important to humour the ISTJ otherwise they are prone to dwell and obsess on memories and past events. Surely not ?
Later, I seek re-assurance from the kids. I tell them about this stupid, stupid thing called Myers-Briggs and that they should never get involved with it coz its like witchcraft. Should not have said that of course as this stirred their interest. The eldest (always least sympathetic) asks for an example of the type of question so I oblige "Well, for example, there is one question which goes like this ..'When you are with friends, do you find you are the one who normally gets the conversation going ?'". The youngest then looks at me and says without intended malice "Which friends are you talking about ?"
The therapy will be long and expensive