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Thanks in advance for your consideration.
Some people easily identify their primary temperament type. Without question they know they are Phlegmatic or Melancholy just by reading the basic definition. And some even are fairly quick to identify their secondary type; I usually tell people to look at their weakness for a clue as to their secondary temperament type.
But what if you’ve read the definitions of each type and each blend and still are scratching your head? What you have to remember is that natural temperament is inborn but it’s constantly being changed and molded and affected by life and others and circumstances.
So what clues can you look for to help you identify your primary and secondary type? This article will offer some suggestions. As I’ve said in other places, some of the saddest people I’ve seen (sad to me; not necessarily to themselves) are those who have “put on” behaviors contrary to their natural type for so long that they become second nature.
A Choleric (naturally hard driving) raised by introverted parents may have learned to muffle their natural extroversion. An outgoing Sanguine influenced by Melancholy parents may end up self critical.
So ask yourself the following kinds of questions: Who influenced my upbringing? Were my parents very different from me temperamentally? What teachers or significant others influenced me growing up? How were they different from me and did I try to emulate them instead of just being “me”? What part of the country was I brought up in – it makes me laugh when I occasionally watch “Wheel of Fortune” since you can always spot the contestants from Southern states by their answering questions with “Yes, Sir!” I admit that there are stereotypes everywhere but Easterners tend to be a bit more “in your face” (fuggetaboutit).
What values were prized in your growing up? Did a Melancholy parent impose order and organization on a Sanguine child? Did outgoing family members try to force a Phlegmatic child to be more “social”? Did an angry Choleric “brush off” the inquiries and questions of a Melancholy child? What personal characteristics were valued in your family? Did they “jive” with who you are naturally?
Fundamentally and naturally, a Choleric will be a driver, a Phlegmatic will be easy-going, a Sanguine will be warm and outgoing, and a Melancholy will be organized and analytical. There is no right or wrong but life and circumstances may have layered on other attitudes and behaviors that don’t “match” your natural type. Share your stories in the comments – how has your natural temperament been changed by life?
For some reason I’ve gotten numerous emails recently about the Choleric Melancholy temperament. As I’ve said in some of my writings – this is the most difficult type to deal with and it’s the most difficult type to BE.
A Choleric is a hard-driving, goal-oriented temperament who lives to accomplish whatever is directly in front of them. However NO ONE is perfect so they fail from time to time just like everyone else. A Melancholy is an analytic, critical temperament who has the natural tendency to be critical of others AND OF THEMSELVES!
So a Choleric who is already frustrated because his forward progress is not working now has his secondary type berating him for his “failure”. A Choleric Melancholy needs a strong dose of self-awareness and others in his life who can point out to him his need of self acceptance.
A co-worker of mine is a Phlegmatic Melancholy ; I find him interesting so here’s a quick profile.
This person is very easy going, typical of a Phlegmatic. He’s quiet but not overly so and enjoys the office relationships. But he’s also in charge of the financial part of the business and here his Melancholy “shines”. He is very detailed when it comes to business dealings and has everything documented — you could say he crosses his T’s and dots his I’s very carefully.
The temperament combination shows in his reaction to problems or questions regarding technical issues. They typically go along this line: ”With (X) situation you SHOULD do the following (A, B, C) but it’s up to you; whatever you want to do.” This makes me laugh because his Melancholy is clear on what HE thinks should be done but his Phlegmatic always gets in a last word.
So you can spot a Phlegmatic Melancholy by statements like “You SHOULD do such and such but it’s up to you, I don’t care.”
My children’s book of short stories – Tales from the Shadow Clan – is available as a Kindle download. You don’t have to have a Kindle to read Kindle books; there is free software for the iPhone, Android phone and even your PC and Mac.
The book is 8 short stories; I’ve provided a sample story you can download here for free. And I’ve provided the same sample story as an MP3 file you can download and listen to here.
The book is available here for $.99 — the stories are for children from 7 to 12 years of age.
I get a lot of comments here saying I’m THIS type of temperament but I am still a 1) leader, 2) helper, 3) some other attribute NOT part of their temperament.
Just to reiterate – your temperament is only the foundation; adding in family, upbringing, schooling, encouragement from others – this is your PERSONALITY. A Phlegmatic can become more outgoing if motivated. A Melancholy can learn that their comments can build up and not tear down. A Choleric can learn sensitivity and a Sanguine can learn to be organized.
Don’t blame your place in life totally on your temperament. Use what you learn about your natural “bent” to create a plan of growth and self improvement.
I study interpersonal communication almost as much as temperament. Actually I taught Sophomore Speech and Communication at the college level. So the other day it hit me that our temperament is actually a form of non-verbal communication.
My simplified definition of non-verbal communication is this: everything BUT your words. Your tone of voice, body language, the car you drive, your accent – any of these can communicate to others.
So an outgoing Sanguine would be recognizable by their warm, friendly, “touchy feely” approach. As a Phlegmatic I was surprised to find that some of my high school contemporaries thought me “stuck up” when I was really just quiet. A Melancholy is probably going to be meticulous in their dress.
A Choleric? Well, I’m not sure – what’s your temperament’s non-verbal language?
I’ve recently been dealing with a lot of anxiety — thinks personal, financial and job-related. My primary – Phlegmatic – is easily affected by worry and anxiety but my secondary – Choleric – tends to bull through and look for answers.
But if you combine an anxious Phlegmatic with a critical/analytical Melancholy you have the potential for someone who continually analyzes these anxieties making them worse. A Phlegmatic Melancholy may seem easy-going but still be fearful underneath. The main problem seems to be a sense of “false responsibility” taken for the problems of others. For example, a worrier may think that if they don’t handle their job perfectly they will face job loss. Or is they don’t help a spouse succeed by filling in their weaknesses, the spouse will fail.
The answer? Not a clear one however the Phlegmatic needs to take a sincere and focused look at whether their anxieties are fact-based or simply false responsibility.
Life is always stressful but the last month or so has been moreso for me. Since I am primarily Phlegmatic, I deal with fear and anxiety more than most. Things that might not bother some folks causes me stress.
Lately it’s been waking me early in the morning; hours before I’m supposed to be up and then I can’t get back to sleep. I read recently that early morning is when certain neuro-chemicals are at their lowest. Then I read that early morning low blood sugar can also magnify anxiety.
I don’t know that I have any answers here — or even specific questions. Each temperament has its own set of weaknesses that have to be dealt with — anxiety just happens to be mine. How do you deal with yours?
“Opposites attract” or at least that’s what they say about relationships. But what about temperaments? There is some truth here as well. We are first attracted to someone who has strengths that we do not. The anxious Phlegmatic is attracted to the strong Choleric and the critical Melancholy may appreciate the Phlegmatic’s laid back nature.
But what happens when one person has two conflicting temperament types as primary and secondary? Remember that each of us is typically a blend to two temperament types – the primary is the way we NORMALLY react to life and circumstances and the secondary often pops up in a variety of unexpected ways.
I’ve often heard from individuals who are stressed by the differences of their two types. For example, I am Phlegmatic Choleric; a laid back individual with a driver secondary. And that can be good – and sometimes bad. I am often chosen as a group leader because the Phlegmatic in me wants everyone to get along and work together and the Choleric in me wants to accomplish goals and keep things moving forward.
But the impatience of my Choleric is often at odds with my lazy Phlegmatic to the point that I get very frustrated. Another example – my wife is a Sanguine Melancholy; a warm outgoing friendly person that everyone easily likes and wants to be around. But the disorganization of her Sanguine causes her organized and critical Melancholy to have “fits” from time to time. The Melancholy wants to be orderly and the Sanguine doesn’t care that much.
The unhappiest combination I have seen is the Melancholy Choleric. Highly organized and driven, the MelChol can be a fantastic surgeon or other detail-driven occupation. But the critical nature of the Melancholy combined with the anger sometimes resident in the Choleric can cause for a lot of personal unhappiness. In fact I had one reader tell me that no one liked them and that they didn’t like themselves!
This, in part, is why I find understanding temperament so important. If you understand that some of these internal conflicts are part of your natural “wiring”, it may not solve the problems but may make them easier to bare and deal with.
So why blends are the “best”? Well, maybe next time.