Melancholy – Detailed and Analytical

The Melancholy is analytical and organized.  An individual with Melancholy as their primary temperament will naturally question everything in their environment and life.  They will analyze jobs, people, family members, and themselves.

A Melancholy is naturally analytical in many ways, in their thinking and their actions.  The Melancholy is the most likely to have a very organized workspace or kitchen or even their car (emergency kit in trunk and each cubby and holder in the vehicle has a defined use).  The Melancholy will often react negatively to someone changing something without permission.  They will know when someone has been using their “stuff” because it will have moved even slightly.

Their natural strength – analysis and organization – can also lead to their main weakness; criticism.  To our hypothetical “pure” Melancholy, the “right” answer to a question or issue is usually self-evident.  Therefore, they will make statements that, to them, only seem right and proper but are often received as critical and even hurtful by others.

They will argue their point from this self-assured standpoint and will not be easily swayed.  Cholerics and Melancholies are the two temperaments most likely to argue and debate though the Melancholy will do it from a more analytical point-of-view.

I have talked with Melancholies who have difficulty understanding why others are disturbed by their “helpful” statements.  “Isn’t that the way you should talk to others?  Don’t they want to be helped?”  But often the perception by others is “Why is that person being so negative/hurtful?”

Phlegmatic – Easy Going

The quietest of the four temperaments, the Phlegmatic is easy going and calm.  Apparently unruffled by turmoil, the Phlegmatic seems almost unmoved by circumstances that drive others crazy.  In fact, a Phlegmatic may seem so quiet and unconcerned that their behavior has been mistaken for snobbishness, which is usually the farthest from the truth.  A Phlegmatic is an excellent listener; though they may have difficulty in expressing the empathy that they feel.

Unlike Cholerics and Melancholies, who usually have strong and distinct feelings about an issue, the Phlegmatic is often able to see both sides of a situation which can make them good counselors.  However, this trait may make them seem weak to those who have strong opinions and cannot easily compromise.

The main weakness of the Phlegmatic is fear and anxiety.  Though it probably doesn’t show on the surface, fear and anxiety can paralyze the Phlegmatic and keep them from moving forward in life.  It usually surprises others when they find this out about the Phlegmatic as it is most likely hidden beneath a calm exterior.  Another area of weakness is laziness.  Remember that we are discussing the hypothetical “pure” Phlegmatic; these individuals have a lower level of drive and ambition than other temperaments; they are often perceived as “reactors” instead of “initiators”.

Because of their ability to see different sides of an issue and their listening ability, Phlegmatics can make excellent group leaders and managers thought they will not often actively seek these positions for themselves.

Sanguine – Outgoing

The Sanguine is the most extroverted temperament.  Words used to describe a Sanguine include warm, outgoing, caring, friendly, a talker, and, sometimes, ‘touchy feely’.

The hypothetical “pure” Sanguine would be the ultimate friend and encourager.  They are often perceived as “happy-go-lucky” without a care in the world.  Usually an extrovert, the Sanguine’s world exists almost entirely “out there”; in other words, reality for them is what they see, hear, taste, and touch.  There is very little of the withdrawn thinker in them; they process their thoughts and feelings by speaking them aloud, oftentimes without thinking about what they are saying, showing much censorship, or how what they say might be perceived by others, which means that others may hear more than they wanted or expected once the Sanguine gets going.

Each temperament has weaknesses; for the Sanguine that means a complete lack of organization and drive.  They will talk about what they want to do for hours but have almost no ability to put those thoughts into some kind of plan of execution.  This lack of organization will also manifest in messiness.  Their workspace will be piled with papers and books, and they will jokingly tell others not to touch anything since they know exactly where everything is in the mess.

A Sanguine will comfort and encourage you and can almost always find something positive to say when you are in distress.  It may be agreeable at first when a Sanguine turns the entire focus of their attention on you but it may quickly become irritating.  You may think “there are times for lightheartedness and times to be serious, and I wish they would be a bit more serious here.”


The Sanguine friend may be the type that shows up unannounced and then stays for no apparent reason and, perhaps, also make themselves too much at home by raiding your refrigerator.  Their response may be something like, “I knew you wouldn’t mind, so I helped myself.”  They are also the most likely to say things aloud that may be embarrassing or seem out of place in the conversation.


The extroverted Sanguine is a combination of warm friend and irritating companion all rolled up into one.

Choleric – Driver

If there were such a thing as a “pure” Choleric, they would rule the world.  A Choleric is goal-driven beyond anything else.  They see a desired end and head toward it by the shortest possible route.  And the shortest possible route for a Choleric is a straight line – any obstacles are simply bulldozed out of the way; there is no going around or avoiding barriers.

And in many ways this is highly admirable; Cholerics get things done.  So what’s the downside? The route to accomplishing their end often runs right over others in their path.  A person who is perceived as an obstacle or barrier is not to be avoided but gone directly over or through. Secondly, a Choleric’s focus will change over time.  You may feel honored to have their complete focus at a certain point in time but feel slighted when that focus shifts to the next goal or obstacle to be conquered.

Remembering that we’re discussing a hypothetical “pure” Choleric, it should be obvious that most Cholerics don’t literally bowl people over physically – most of them can at least function in society on a daily basis.

The second major characteristic of a “pure” Choleric is an absolute assurance that they are right in whatever they believe.  Once convinced of something, a Choleric will not change how they feel or believe – even in the face of contradictory evidence.

Because of these two inborn traits, Cholerics are often loners; they prefer to work alone instead of having to put up with the weaknesses and shortcomings of others.  Additionally, because of these traits, a Choleric is most likely to hold a grudge when they feel they have been wronged.

A drive to accomplish ends plus an internal assurance of the rightness of their point of view makes them hold onto anger for long periods of time.  This trait is rarely expressed as outward rage but as a smoldering anger that will often be expressed in sarcasm, argument, or even revenge.

So a “pure” Choleric is a force of nature; driven by their own internal compass.

The 4 Temperament Types

1) Choleric – often referred to as a Type A personality, the Choleric is a hard driving, goal-oriented person who is more concerned with accomplishing their agenda and less with how it affects other people.

2) Sanguine – of the four types, the Sanguine is the most naturally warm, social, and outgoing.  These individuals are comfortable with social interaction; they are outwardly emotional, highly verbal, and have a tendency to be ‘touchers’.

3) Phlegmatic – The defining characteristics of a Phlegmatic are a calm, easy-going manner.  Often quiet, Phlegmatics are less comfortable socially and may be thought of as introverts or ‘snobs’.


4) Melancholy – the Melancholy temperament is marked by a highly analytical nature which often verges on being critical.  These traits also make the Melancholy the most naturally organized of the four types.