Have you ever wondered why your spouse can never remember where they parked the car, or why your child will organize all of their toys just right and get upset if anyone touches them? Without proper understanding of the four basic personality types, these things can seem extremely foreign and unnatural. In order to understand people; the way they talk, act, work, and even have fun, a basic understanding of personality traits is fundamental.
There are four basic personality types that are concerned with where one draws their energy (internally or externally) and what motivates a person (tasks or people). The traits are broken up as follows;
For a detailed explanation of the four types I would recommend two books; Personality Plus by Florence Littauer and Positive Personality Profiles by Dr. Robert Rohm. While these two authors use different title to describe the different personalities, their definitions are very similar.
Let me use professional life as an example of how the different personalities operate:
Popular Sanguine volunteer for everything even if they don’t know how to do it. They think up new activities, are creative and colourful, and look great on the surface. They are full of energy and enthusiasm, they inspire others to grow and charm others to work. Professions where a popular sanguine would thrive are actors, comedians, and politicians.
Perfect Melancholy is very schedule oriented. They are perfectionists with high standards and are very detail conscious. They love order and an organized work environment that is neat and tidy. They will see the problems and think of creative solutions, always needing to finish what they start. They love charts, graphs, figures and lists. Becoming an accountant, attorney, scientist, or pilot would be a perfect fit for perfect melancholy.
Powerful Choleric are people who see the whole picture, are goal oriented and seek practical solutions. They move quickly into action, delegates work, and insists on production. These people thrive in the face of a goal, deadline or opposition. Excellent career choices for powerful choleric are police officers, navy seals, and umpires/referees.
Peaceful Phlegmatic is competent and steady. they are peaceful, agreeable, and has great administrative ability. they meditate on problems, avoid conflict and are excellent under pressure. Jobs suitable for peaceful phlegmatic are hostage negotiators, personal support workers, relationship counsellor, and bomb defusers.
Each personality type has amazing strengths as I have noted. There are professions that are more suited towards people with specific personality traits, and the world needs people like them. A sanguine may not be suited to be an accountant or an actuary, just as a phlegmatic would probably not make the most effect border patrol officer. These are jobs we need, and I am thankful that there are people out there with the personality traits that fit them so they can be filled by people competent in those areas. I’m not saying that someone couldn’t do a job that their personality traits were not complementary to, however they may find it uncomfortable and unfulfilling, and most likely have a career change in mind.
Another great example for explaining the differences between each personality type is their expectations on time matters. A choleric is easy on themselves, but hard on other people. Even if they are late to an event or a meeting they would just consider everyone else lucky they even showed up. But if someone was late to an appointment they had arranged and was important to them, they would not be understanding. Sanguines are easy on themselves and easy on others. They aren’t even really sure why they are going to most appointments, they probably lost track of time, and if you showed up late to a meeting they would be just as happy to see you. Phlegmatic are hard on themselves and easy on others. A phlegmatic would never want to be late because it would bring attention to themselves or make someone else upset, and if you showed up late they would understand any reason for your tardiness. A melancholy is hard on themselves and hard on others. They run on a schedule and wouldn’t miss an appointment, and if you were late to a meeting with them they would be annoyed that you disrupted their schedule for the day.
You can probably start to sort out who in your life has what tendencies. Your spouse who forgets where they parked the car probably has some sanguine traits. Your child who organizes their toys probably has some melancholy tendencies. As you look into the four personality profiles more you will start to understand those around you better, and become better at interacting with them and understanding their methods of communication.
As with anything, there are positive and negative elements to each of the four profiles, so I will leave you with a message to each;
Choleric, look up! You may be able to destroy the world, but remember, you didn’t create it.
Sanguine, button up! Tell one less story every time you talk. Yes, all these people will miss out on your amazing story, but they will appreciate you listening to them.
Melancholy, lighten up! Nobody is perfect, we don’t expect you to be perfect, so please give us some grace too.
Phlegmatic, get up! a body in motion tends to stay in motion. It’s great to rest but you truly feel better about yourself when you are accomplishing a task.