DiSC versus Myers-Briggs

My personal experience is that these two inventories do not measure the same things exactly.  The following exchange is with a reader:  “Dear Hal, my name is Bryne.  I have taken both MBTI and the DiSC tests.  On the DiSC test I was a Melancholy Phlegmatic.  As for the MBTI I tested as INFP/INTP.  So how do I reconcile the results of these two tests?  Does INFP correlate well with Melancholy Phleg or does INTP correlate better?”

My response:  I’ve always been interested in trying to reconcile the Myers-Briggs and DiSC; in my observation they are NOT the same way of looking at temperament.  For example I have a friend who, like me, is an INFP — both of us rate stongly for this type.  However I am Phlegmatic Choleric (High S, High D) and he is a Phlegmatic Melancholy (High S, High C).  So while we both tend to be laid back, my friend is much more analytical and critical and I am much more results-oriented (“results-oriented” is a relative term in a Phlegmatic!)

Since you are also an INFP we should share some of the same approaches to life HOWEVER because you are Melancholy first and Phlegmatic second, your personality would seem to differ from my friend’s and mine in many ways.

I realize this isn’t a full answer but it does indicate to be that the two types of inventories measure different qualities.  Wish I had more; I guess I should put some more effort into this but I’m a Phlegmatic so . . . .

Opposite Temperament Types in the Same Person

This question relates to the “blend” of temperament types in each of us; specifically, what happens when they are two opposites?

“I noticed that you are a Phlegmatic Choleric and I was wondering if you’ve studied how the opposite temperament types can be in the same person.  Thanks, Taylor”

This question is one I’ve often thought about. I do believe that you can have a blend of two opposite temperament types as I live in one (Phlegmatic Choleric).  My wife has two opposite types (Sanguine Melancholy) and my daughter also (Choleric Phlegmatic).

From my experience understanding this has do with the dominance of each type; by that I mean that in most people one type is dominant and the other is less so.

For instance I have  good friend that is Choleric Phlegmatic (just my opposite).  How do we differ since we share the same two types in differing amounts?  I am almost always the most laid back person in the room (Phlegmatic) but when I get impatient (traffic, slow lines) my Choleric driver wants to come out.  In my friend, his Choleric primary causes him to be a straight-ahead driver who does it in a non-angry way; his Phlegmatic ‘tempers’ his Choleric.

The upshot is that individuals with opposite termperament types will struggle with those opposites; which is partly what makes each of us unique!

Temperament Percentages

I got an email a while back asking about a breakdown of temperaments by percentage.  Here’s the letter:

“Hello, I have known about the four temperaments since the late ’90s and have taken several personality tests.  I recently bought a book that says that only 3% of people have Choleric as their primary temperament, 11% Sanguine, 17% Melancholy and a whopping 69% Phlegmatic.  I am a Choleric Sanguine which would make me the most rreof the 16 combos.  Are these percentages accurate, in the ball park, or totally off?  Matthew”

I’ve never thought about that aspect of temperament; I’ve always focused on how each type interacts in life.  However, it doesn’t seem right to me.  Marti Laney in her book “The Introvert Advantage” says that extroverts make up 75% of all people and introverts only 25%.  Cholerics and Sanguines are typically extroverts so the percentages you mention don’t seem right to me.  Also, in my experience, there just isn’t that large a percentage of easy-going, laid-back people!

Does Shy Equal Introversion?

I get this question asked from time to time: Does being shy mean I’m introverted?  I’m an introverted Phlegmatic with a Myers-Briggs of INFP and I feel pretty qualified to answer that.

As a child I was VERY bashful.  I did not interact a lot with others, I didn’t have a lot of friends and my mother tells me I was a very compliant child.  I believe introversion formed the basis of this shyness which lasted well into college.

However I believe that even the most hardnosed introvert can overcome shyness.  As an adult I have made my living in sales and marketing; I dislike cold calling and I don’t “schmooze”.  After a large presentation or meeting I still have the introvert’s need to go hide somewhere to recharge.

But I CAN make presentations and I CAN call people when I have to and I CAN hold conversations with strangers.  So what happened?

I believe that a strong program of self-development over the years helped my self-confidence.  Reading self-help books, listening to speakers, implementing techniques that I learned — all these helped.  That and simply being thrown into situations that MADE me interact with others.

Studying temperament and personality has also helped me tremendously by helping me learn that my introversion was natural and not some sort of social disease!  I believe introverts are born but that shyness is a controllable, changeable behavior.  I’d like to hear other points of view as well — let me know if you disagree!

Temperament, Personality and Behavior

I’m a strong proponent of describing our leanings by means of our natural temperament BUT there can be a tendency to excuse behavior on the same basis.

Because you are hard-wired a certain way – easy-going Phlegmatic, detailed Melancholy, outgoing Sanguine, or hard-driving Choleric – is not an excuse for not evolving your behavior.

The dictionary defines EVOLVE as “to develop or achieve gradually” — and this I maintain should be happening no matter what your temperament.

Phlegmatics need to fight laziness — to evolve would mean to become generally more active over time through work and discipline.  Melancholies tend to over-analyze and criticize — to evolve would mean putting these tendencies to good use in helping others actively.  Sanguines can be disorganized and messy — to evolve would mean implementing systems of organization that they would follow regularly.  Cholerics have little patience with others and care little about their feelings — to evolve would mean taking others’ thoughts and feelings more into consideration.

As an introverted Phlegmatic I’ve tried to evolve; while being more outgoing still tires me I no longer totally dread it.  I encourage each of us to evolve by changing behaviors over time.

Hard to Be an Introvert?

Not sure who asked me that question but I thought I’d take a swing at it.  Being introverted or extroverted just “IS” – as I’ve said many times, our temperament is inborn and our behaviors grow out of it.

But being an introvert is easy because you were made that way so all the stuff that comes with being introverted — a need to be alone to recharge, being introspective, an active “inner life” — seems natural.

So how is it difficult?  Living in an extroverted world casues stress for many introverts.  Stress from having to interact with what my daughter calls “evil extroverts”, stress from being misunderstood or seen as aloof or conceited, stress from pressure to be “more like others”.

The strongest comments I’ve gotten have to do with introverts discovering that it’s okay to be that way; the way they naturally are.

After years of being told to speak up, don’t be shy, come out of your shell and you’ll be happier, we have the chance to be understood for who we are.


Super Simple Temperament Test

There are a lot of temperament tests available; this one simply gives you a hint where you are on the DiSC scale.  For a free temperament test drop me an email at warfieldh(at)gmail(dot)com.

1) Are you naturally outgoing?  Do others consider you outgoing? If you are outgoing, are you naturally talkative?

If you answered yes to these you are most likely an “I” on the DiSC scale.  The “I” stands for Influence and the Greek term is Sanguine.

2) Are you goal-directed and a “driver”?  Are you mainly concerned with getting things done?  Do you tend to make quick decisions?

Yes to these questions may indicate you are the “D” in DiSC.  The Greek term is Choleric and the term “Type A” is often used to describe this temperament type.

3)  If you do NOT consider yourself naturally outgoing, are you detailed?  Do others notice that you are careful about order and details?

If so, you are probably a “C” on the DiSC scale.  “C” stands for Cautious or conscientious and the Greek term is Melancholy.

4) Finally, if you are not known for being naturally outgoing, are you best known for being easy to get along with, calm and steady?

This type is the “S” on the DiSC scale and the “S” stands for Steadiness, demonstrating patience.  The Greek term for this type is Phlegmatic.

I must emphasize that temperament is always modified by life experience and circumstances — we call this our personality.  And each of us is a blend of TWO of these four types.

Send an email to warfieldh(at)gmail(dot)com for a survey that will help you identify your PRIMARY temperament type.

Temperament Search Terms

In looking at the analytics on this site I find some of the following search terms that got people here:

*Choleric and Phlegmatic and Marriage

*Networking Introvert

*Sanguine and Melancholy in Marriage

*Am I an introvert or shy extrovert

*Introvert jobs

*Shy introverted

*MelPhleg phlegmatic Personality

*Cholerics Sanguines compatible

* Basic problems of a Choleric person

What search terms brought you here?

Temperament, Personality and Marriage?

Here’s a question from a reader:  “Hey, I’d like to ask your opinion on marriage.  Do you think opposites make the best marriage?  Is it important in your mind?  The ones that don’t have matching temperaments (and I mean both as we all have two) never quite seem to thrive as those who do.  What are your thoughts?”

My reply – Temperament plays a vital role in marriage.  What most peole don’t realize is that we are often attracted to temperaments that are different thour our own.  A quiet Phlegmatic may appreciate the outgoing, talkative Sanguine.  An organized Melancholy may think that a hard-charging Choleric is just like them.  The problems arise when we find out that their weaknesses are our strengths and we cannot understand how what is easy to us is so hard to them.  A Sanguine is very, very disorganized and a Melancholy finds that infuriating.  A Phlegmatic is very easy going and a Choleric is totally impatient with that approach.  You cannot help your natural temperament type any more than you can help your eye color.  

Therefore it makes sense to find someone who shares some of your temperament traits in some way.  As you said in your question, each of us is a blend of two temperaments types –If you are a Choleric Sanguine (full speed ahead but also socially outgoing), you might do with with a Sanguine Phlegmatic (socally outgoing and easy going at the same time).  The most difficult couple combination are two complete temperament opposites.  A Melancholy Choleric (detailed/critical and hard charging) is going to be very impatient and critical of a Sanguine Phlegmatic (socially outgoing and easy going).  I believe temperament tests are a useful tool when looking (objectively) at choosing a spouse.

Personality Traits or Why Does He Irritate me?

Let’s face it – if you’re human you get irritated with others.  If you study introversion and extroversion and temperament you know that some of it comes from those personality differences. The Choleric is purposeful and direct — and strongly dislikes the “flightiness” of the outgoing Sanguine.  The Melancholy is detailed and analytical and tidy — and strongly dislikes the lack of organization by the Phlegmatic and Sanguine.  And all three are put off by what they perceive as the Choleric’s “pushiness”.

What temperament and personality traits irritate you?  And which of your traits would you imagine irritate others?

Which leads to today’s question from a reader:  “Good Day, Sir.  I am a typical Chinese student from Singapore.  I have just read your explanation on man’s personality.  Frankly speaking, I am mostly Choleric and a little Melancholy.  I have a friend who is a student leader like me and I find him extremely showy.  And I find it very hard to bear with him too since both of us are student leaders.  I don’t see why he is so dominant though I am his “in-charge”.  This really makes me insecure and angry!  If you do not mind, can you tell me a way to correct my perspective?”

And I reply – As a Choleric you are very goal-oriented BUT with a Melancholy secondary you are not particularly outgoing and social.  You are probably not a natural “people person” like your comrade.  Your Melancholy traits cause you to analyze behaviors you observe very carefully, however, the weaknesses of the Choleric/Melancholy are anger and criticism so it is somewhat natural that you find yourself reacting that way.

On the other hand, your friend is most likely Sanguine, that is, an outgoing and warm friendly type who is naturally extroverted.  This person can no more help being outgoing than you can help being dedicated and focused. Since neither of you can change your natural temperament, you must learn to accept (or at least tolerate) each other. You would do well to cultivate some friend with a Phlegmatic temperament.  A Phlegmatic is soft-spoken and easy going and will be a good listener.  Focus on getting things done and don’t let your friend’s natural temperament make you insecure.