Personalities & Application
Personality knowledge is not a weapon but a tool. In this context, the difference between a weapon and a tool is that one is used to harm while the other is used to help. If you are familiar with the four personality types [Popular (Playful) Sanguine, Perfect (Proper) Melancholy, Powerful Choleric and Peaceful Phlegmatic] and have a decent grasp on the basic characteristics, strengths, weaknesses and emotional needs of each, then undoubtedly you have been in many discussions around dinner tables and in lunch rooms hashing through the topic. As a result, you may observe that people use the information in one of two ways; as a weapon or as a tool. See where you best fit…
As a weapon to defend self–the SHIELD approach.
Always, when I present a personality workshop, early on someone will turn to a colleague and say, “See, I can’t help it, it’s just the way I am.” It is often our imprudent reaction to defend who we are, good or bad. And without any consideration we apply the information as a defense mechanism. If you are not careful, you will embrace the “take me or leave me” attitude. I would encourage you to take down your shield. Take a hard look at your weaknesses and commit to an attitude of self-awareness and self-improvement instead.
As a weapon to offend others–the SWORD approach.
Unfortunately, sometimes people use personalities to make jabs and stabs. It is as if the personalities give you some twisted affirmation that says, “Yes, I was right about so and so” and then you go on the attack. An example would be to say something such as, “You are so _______ (fill in the blank with a personality type); you always or you never _______ (fill in the blank with a weakness of that personality). i.e. – “You are so sanguine; you are always thinking only about yourself.” This approach is harmful. It never results in a positive. We should not use sarcasm to intentionally make others feel inferior simply because we think their personality does not compare well to our own. This applies to everyone, but I must state Cholerics should be especially careful here. And, with a spirit of confession, I have been guilty of this myself specifically in conversations with those closest to me. Be careful not to participate in personality rhetoric that focuses on weaknesses. Remember we ALL have areas of weakness. Rather, focus on strengths. Try to recognize and admire the positive dynamic personality differences bring to your life, workplace and family.
The goal is to gain valuable understanding and to see others’ differences as something other than flaws.
As a tool to lift up–the jack approach.
Just like a car jack lifts something that would otherwise be impossible to move, when we apply personalities in a way that encourages and motivates others toward success, we help them achieve what seemed impossible before. There are countless stories about families and work environments that have experienced positive change because of this information. The hard-nosed choleric learns to listen. The hyper-distracted sanguine learns to focus. The uninvolved phlegmatic learns to voice their opinion. The uptight melancholy learns to be flexible. It is most rewarding to use the information as a tool to encourage others to walk and live in their strengths. When you accept people as they are, an amazing thing happens. Almost in a twist of irony, they feel safe enough to drop their shields and actually become open to learning how to change or take on other strengths. Remember, your core personality never changes. However, as an intelligent human being you have the ability to learn how to think and act, at least a bit, differently.
As a tool to re-construct–the chisel approach.
This approach is the most personal and for me is what keeps me honest as I stand before audiences. My hope is that because I know this information I will be able to better recognize why I think and act the way I do, and will therefore, make better decisions. Decisions about how I’ll choose to see things, decisions about how I’ll choose to treat people and address people. Decisions about how I’ll react. Decisions about what weaknesses I need to dissolve and what strengths I need to play to. Growing up, my mother would often remind me, (probably because she is sanguine/phlegmatic and I am choleric/sanguine) you cannot control what other people do, you can only control yourself. So true! I love this quote I use in my workshops from the book Please Understand Me, “Remove the fangs from a lion and behold a toothless lion, not a domestic cat.” You are not going to use this information to transform someone into who you think they should be. They are who they are so stop trying. Instead, take a thorough look in the mirror and then work and grow from there.
Knowing your personality and the personalities of others is meant to change you, not leave you the same. Nevertheless, just like that treadmill in the garage it only works if you use it!
Thank you all for subscribing to this blog. I so enjoy sharing with you! I’d love to hear from you. Please let me know if you have any questions or if there is a personality topic you’d like to know more about.
Because this is so important here are the basic emotional needs of each personality
Sanguine: Attention from all
Approval of every deed
Acceptance “as is”
Melancholy: Sensitivity to their feelings
Space to be alone
Silence (no people)
Sense of Control
Appreciation for all their hard work
Phlegmatic: Peace and quiet
Feelings of Worth
Lack of Stress,
Respect for who they are not what they do