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Ok, so there isn't really a study that actually confirms this, but the Wall Street Journal did have a an interesting article on the predictable nature of primates (yes, even you). Your Boss may not be an actual ape, but he behaves like one and you behave just like a primatologist would predict.

When a subordinate chimpanzee grooms a dominant one, it often does so for a long time and unsolicited. When it then requests to be groomed in turn, it receives only a brief grooming and usually after having to ask a second time. [and more specifically...] The asymmetry in length and speed of reply correlates with dominance.

This same pattern is seen during the basic interactions of junior and senior colleagues. Ever get an unintelligible 4 word e-mail from your boss? Check. Ever get hand-written changes on a Powerpoint slide that made your handwriting in kindergarten look like calligraphy? Check.

I guess this is all much more predictable than I thought. I remember it even went so far that when I was in banking, one of our Managing Directors (nicknamed "The Terrorist" because he would randomly call you at 4am to make some minor edits of a random pitch with no chance!!) was notorious for leaving cryptic scratch all over the pitch book. Due to the fact I was on two live deals with The Terrorist, I soon became the bullpen's expert at decoding these hieroglyphics. Now I know why he was so careless - he was the dominant BSD and we were his "underlings", to put it nicely.

I would give his handwriting a 1.8 on a 1-10 readability scale. What about you primates? Does your boss send you e-mails that make no sense and hand written notes that look like they actually were written by an ape?

Some typical email from my past VP:

pg 3 industry lined plus t2oters

hrer now, coffee

cash swp revolver with tlA not pay?

Or if we're talking about PPT, you think the slide below is bad? You haven't worked in investment banking.


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Comments (12)

  • M Friedman's picture

    my boss also beats me, is that normal?

  • bonks's picture

    "logic check?"

    Got that shit sent to me every time I sent an email as an intern, but towards the end I realized what she was asking (kind of).

    Never had anything as unintelligible as what the nychimp posted though.

    Nothing short of everything will really do.

  • go.with.the.flow's picture

    co-worker just got promoted and now hes bossing me around at every chance he gets, whats the best strategy here?

  • Disincentivy's picture

    Received this from a D

    eb mam pb 3

    I responded:

    io yday.

    He then sent me:


    I said, I interofficed project Mambo pitchbook to EB (spelled out name) yesterday.
    We are now the most efficient communicators office wide.

    I may not be on the Jedi Council, but I sure am great with the Force.

    See my WSO blog posts

  • Gate_Crasher's picture


    He is only dominant in the work environment and his role as a senior. So you go along with the charade. He is NOT inherently dominant or has a genetic advantage over you.

    Outside of work, he is just another rat trying to make it.

  • Powa23's picture

    try writing tl;dr to one email, I wonder what he'll respond with

  • Disincentivy's picture

    Quite frankly, Gate_Crasher; I think I am inherently and genetically more dominant than him. Ahhh the shit I have to put up with until I become the overlord...

    I may not be on the Jedi Council, but I sure am great with the Force.

    See my WSO blog posts

  • In reply to Powa23
    Disincentivy's picture

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    I may not be on the Jedi Council, but I sure am great with the Force.

    See my WSO blog posts

  • In reply to Gate_Crasher
    Disincentivy's picture

    I may not be on the Jedi Council, but I sure am great with the Force.

    See my WSO blog posts