WSIR 003 | Personality Plus

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Why can’t this person be normal… like me?”

If so, you’re experiencing a difference in personality that manifests itself in different ways based on several different things in that “odd” person’s nature or nurturing.

Florence Littauer in her book, Personality Plus, has laid out a wonderful framework for understanding yourself first in a quest to figure out what motivates the “other guy.”

Everyone is created unique, and yet as a whole, people are predictable. There are four main temperaments which each person has to a greater or lesser extent. You definitely have an extremely unique blend of these four temperaments but the single traits that you choose to embrace can also be observed in many others, leading those who understand the four temperaments to make roughly accurate predictions when dealing with others.

We will briefly touch on the four personalities, and then dig into a couple things on how to deal with others.

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If you have ever wondered why you’re the smartest person in the room and everyone else is acting dumb… you’re probably Choleric.

The Choleric individual is out-going, task oriented and can always be happy if other people would just figure out that she needs everything done her way… NOW.

They are happiest when they are getting results.

If you’ve ever had a hard time remembering what someone else literally just said to you because you were singing a song in your mind… you’re probably Sanguine.

The Sanguine personality is constantly upbeat, forever singing, dancing the night away, enthusiastic about everything, and maintains a childlike innocence throughout their life. They will always be on the lookout for the next thing to do, and wear their emotions on their sleeve.

They are happiest when they are having fun, in fact they don’t do anything willingly unless it has an aspect of fun in it.

If you’ve ever rolled your eyes and compulsively changed the toilet paper roll in someone else’s bathroom so it would be on “the right way” … you’re probably Melancholy.

These individuals are the smartest, most meticulous, people you will ever meet. If you are of this personality, you find yourself in the company of the greatest geniuses of history who disciplined themselves to adhere to perfection.

You are happiest when you are getting quality answers, when things are in order, and when you are correct.

If you don’t know what it means that a toilet paper roll could be on “wrong” or if you haven’t figured out what personality you are yet… you are probably Phlegmatic. 

These individuals are the most relaxed of all the temperaments. If you are a phlegmatic person you enjoy rest, it’s not uncommon for people to enjoy being with you, but at the same time you could be fine on your own. It’s a great day for you if nothing crazy happens, no arguments happen and you’re able to relax.

You are happiest when everyone is getting along.

How to Get Along with Others

This section is from one of the most helpful chapters in Personality Plus. p. 171-186

Take what you will from these headlines, they can be applied in various different ways.

Choleric – I can remember a time where I was dealing with a choleric individual who needed correction. After we had a talk they turned to me and said something along the lines of, “Yeah I know you’re right but I’m really not happy about it and I don’t like you right now.” Take this sort of thing in stride 🙂

  • Recognize they are born leaders
  • Insist on two-way communication
  • Know they don’t mean to hurt
  • Don’t push your luck
  • Try to divide areas of responsibility
  • Realize they are not compassionate
  • Know they are always right

Sanguine – I grew up with a buddy who would exaggerate, I could never figure out why it was that he would lie to everyone about what he had done. Then when learning about personalities I realized I wasn’t friends with a pathological liar, I just had a sanguine for a buddy.

  • Recognize their difficulty in accomplishing tasks
  • Realize they talk without thinking first
  • Realize they like variety and flexibility
  • Help them to keep from accepting more than they can do
  • Don’t expect them to remember appointments or be on time
  • Praise them for everything they accomplish
  • Remember they are circumstantial people
  • Bring them presents, they like new toys
  • Accept that they make fun out of what would be embarrassing to others
  • Realize they mean well

Melancholy – When dealing with Melancholy individuals, their process is very important to them. While reading this book, I came to a realization that I was consistently interrupting a melancholy’s process with my interruptions and it was putting them on edge when they dealt with me. They do their best work in their own way, and generally it’s the correct way to do it 🙂

  • Know that they are very sensitive and get hurt easily
  • Realize they are programmed with a pessimistic attitude
  • Learn to deal with depression
  • Compliment them sincerely and lovingly
  • Accept that they like it quiet sometimes
  • Enjoy quiet?
  • Try to keep a reasonable schedule
  • Realize that neatness is a necessity

Phlegmatic – I naturally have quite a bit of this personality in myself and I can attest to the helpfulness of the suggestion in the book that phlegmatic individuals should start by forcing themselves to get enthusiastic about one thing a month and work up from there.

  • Realize they need direct motivation
  • Help them set goals and make rewards
  • Don’t expect enthusiasm
  • Realize that putting things off is their form of quiet control
  • Force them to make decisions (lovingly)
  • Don’t heap all the blame on them
  • Encourage them to accept responsibilities

Hope you enjoyed this brief overview! Feel free to reach out to me to continue the conversation, this is one of my favorite topics.

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Uniquely Yours

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You’re a weird one.

No matter what anyone else says, you know that you’re not like everyone else. You may wish that sometimes, “Oh if only I was more like Sarah, or had an attitude like Timothy.” You can’t get away from the fact that you’re one-of-a-kind.

This is a good thing.

In fact, this is a great thing!

If all of us had similar strengths and weaknesses, there would be an enormous imbalance in certain areas. You should be overjoyed at the gifting that you have been created with. There are four basic temperaments, and each has a wonderful role to play. Today, we understand more about the temperaments and realize that each person has their own mix.

Be glad you live in a society that appreciates these differences. In the Ancient Greek world, they knew of the four temperaments and they thought that they arose from levels of four fluids within your body. Blood, Phlegm, Yellow Bile, and Black Bile. If someone had these four fluids or “Humors” in balance they were considered healthy but there were some who had leeches attached to them to drain off blood! Imagine being in a sour mood, and your doctor prescribes leeches. Gross!

The four basic personalities are, Dominant (ambitious and leader-like), Inspiring (Pleasure seeking and sociable), Supportive (Relaxed and Thoughtful), and Cautious (Analytical and Literal). Most people have a mixture of two or more.

And that’s only the tip of the iceberg! There are theories of Brain-Type, Meyers-Briggs personalities, Choleric/Sanguine/Melancholy/Phlegmatic, and so many more. I have found that most tests end up breaking down the personalities into four categories. Outgoing and People Oriented: Inspiring (top left), Reserved and Task Oriented: Cautious (top right), Reserved and People Oriented: Supportive (bottom left), and Outgoing and Task Oriented: Dominant (bottom right). 

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Knowing your own personality is fun, but the real value is being able to deal with others. We are called to be a blessing to others in the Bible. 2 Corinthians 2:15 calls us,

For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;

You can be a fragrance instead of an odor!

A book that I have read that really opens up the doors to the social styles and personality types is Personality Plus by Florence Littauer. personality-plus-193x300

Check it out! Its a book that I’ve enjoyed reading immensely, and I guarantee that your eyes will be opened to the reasons why that one Weird person is acting that way.

So lets go out and be weird.

Be a Fragrance.

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