Personalities: the good, the bad, and the downright ugly
(excerpt from my monthly newsletter – November 2011)
If you have attended a Wired that Way training, then you may recall me saying that any strength you have, carried to the extreme, becomes a weakness. I’d like to show you how people can quickly transform from Christmas angel into a person so difficult to deal with, you could scream. Allow me to introduce you to each personality functioning in three different modes: the good, the bad and the ugly.
Popular or playful Sanguine will be the life of all your holiday parties. Living in their strengths, they are much desired as party guests, are sure to entertain the crowd, contribute creative desserts and keep the mood light and joyful. They love to go Christmas shopping, hang shiny objects from ceiling to floor and live to tell about it all. Truly a magnetic person.
Perfect or Proper Melancholy is the best at making the holiday plans. They make the lists and check them twice. They are sure to schedule ahead, know how to get things done and thrive when working alone on their various projects. Melancholies desire a perfect execution of their plans and are sensitive to making sure their gifts and ideas are truly meaningful.
Powerful Choleric thrives on all they are able to accomplish during such a busy season. Their ability to make quick decisions serves them well when stores are crowded and the shopping list is long. They are great at pulling things together on the fly while making it appear as though they have been planning for months.
Peaceful Phlegmatic takes a more mellow approach to the holiday madness. They view the season as a time to relax, eat, drink and be merry. They don’t want to stress during a time when peace on earth should reign. Their easygoing nature serves them well as they don’t tend to over-think gifts and are tuned into the reason for the season. They are cooperative and pleasant at family gatherings, enjoying every minute as long as chaos is avoided and they aren’t forced to play attention-getting games.
When people have never been introduced to the personality topic, they are much more likely to function off balance in terms of strengths and weaknesses. If their strengths were honed, you would be impressed, but instead they take their strengths a bit too far. Carried away and lost in their own good intentions, some people begin behaving in ways that drive others crazy. The annoying part is the complete lack of self-awareness which most people define as immaturity. And so, the most wonderful time of the year takes a bad turn.
Popular or Playful Sanguine will often default into using the sheer charm and wit of their personality to get their way, control the conversation and skip holiday “chores”. They talk too much, become too loud and too wild for some party guests. Their love for shopping easily translates into irrational spending. After Christmas, this personality often discovers shocking balances on their credit cards and will realize they spent way more than they originally intended.
Perfect or Proper Melancholy may become paralyzed if their schedule is thrown off. They want everything and everyone to be perfect. Their entire focus can shift from the people whom they have planned for, to perfecting the tasks at hand. Generally, their expectations go unmet and they are slightly, if not completely, disappointed. So, they tend to avoid getting too personal and instead focus on physical needs and sticking to the plan.
Powerful Choleric takes over. They categorize holidays as deadlines and will not wait for others to get with the program. They will decide for everyone what, when and how things should happen. If you buck their authority, they will be mad at you regardless of the fact that many of their choices were made impulsively. During the busy season of holiday preparation, they will work beyond the norm in order to accomplish more than should be humanly possible.
Peaceful Phlegmatic gives up. In order to avoid conflict and maintain peace, the phlegmatic will often compromise their standards and allow others to decide. They hide their emotions and default to idleness giving the “I don’t care” or “whatever” answer for most everything.
This is how the cycle of bad behavior ruins your Christmas party. As people function outside of their natural strengths, (the bad) they begin to feel the weight of unmet emotional needs. Why? Well, who wants to offer praise to the out-of-control Sanguine? Who wants to applaud the Choleric who has become a drill Sergeant or the rigid Melancholy who has everyone walking on egg shells? Who is going to respect the lazy, apathetic attitude of the phlegmatic? No one. And so, emotional needs go unmet, and bad behavior becomes downright ugly and you can no longer stand these people.
Now, the popular or playful sanguine is acting like a complete fool. Because of their insecurities, they absolutely cannot stop talking and may even begin to model a con artist, scheming and plotting against their enemies. They often become a true party animal in their quest to find acceptance, attention, affection and approval.
Ugly for the melancholy looks a whole lot like obsessed. They become obsessed over every detail, nitpicking and criticizing continually. Their negative attitude doesn’t exactly welcome friendly conversation, so they tend to withdraw and become antisocial. All of this because they feel no one understands, nor could they.
The choleric’s ugly side is a mean one. Their temper is ever present, easily set off and they become irrational. Focused on power and control, they act like a dictator and will manipulate conversations and others’ feelings in order to win. And, can you say WORKAHOLIC?
Out of control, the peaceful phlegmatic is extremely stubborn. They won’t budge, won’t make any decisions and they seemingly block out all feelings. They easily become a pawn who feels completely disrespected and unworthy, and who deep down is harboring a ton of resentment.
Oh, my. Does this really happen? All the time. I see it everywhere. In families, businesses, churches, lines at the grocery store, you name it. People are so out of touch with who they are and who they are meant to be, that they operate in total dysfunction.
Sometimes, I get there myself.
The key is self-awareness; understanding what needs to grow and what needs to go and then doing something about it. I hope this Christmas, you will be aware of how your personality affects your perspective and that perhaps, that knowledge alone, will birth positive results.
Afterall, this is the most wonderful time of the year.