Take a Free Temperament Test

I am a certified Personality ID consultant – there is a free version of the paid test here:  https://pidteam.crown.org/try_us_out_free_report

If you’d like to ask questions about this test, email me at halwarfield(at)outlook(dot)com

I will respond via email – it is not intended as a comprehensive test but should give you more information as you read the articles on this blog.

A Melancholy Child

I get many letters from individuals asking about their temperaments.  This letter comes from a mother with a Melancholy child.  Remember that a Melancholy temperament is very organized but can be overly analytical and critical.  Here’s the letter:

“Good Day, I have looked at your website and found many interesting facts about the various personalities.  I have a 10 year old very COMPLEX boy.  He is most definitely a Melancholy child.  Please advise me as to how I can get the most out of him, for him to eventually WANT to do things for himself, e.g. school work, sports, etc.  It seems as if he goes through cycles of really not liking himself.  He accepts compliments very skeptically.  Thank you, Michelle.”

My answer:  Michelle, you didn’t indicate whether you know his secondary temperament type — Phlegmatic, Sanguine or Choleric.  His age tends to magnify the problem as he is about to enter adolescence which is a difficult time for the happiest of children.

A Melancholy is usually analytical and critical of others but not of themselves.  If he is not naturally outgoing (possibly a Phlegmatic secondary) he needs to have some sort of peer group where he receives positive attention, activity and feedback.  It probably seems like a cliche but activites such as Tae Kwon Do or other martial arts seem to excel in this type of activity.

If he’s musically inclined, get him a guitar and some lessons.  Again the point being to give him feelings of accomplishment and to focus his attention more outwardly.

Whatever you can come up with to give him a feeling of success and divert his attention from himself should have the effect of gradually raising his self-concept.  At the same time I would avoid competitive groups wehre he will have the tendency to be self-critical (sport teams for example).

Don’t expect this to be an overnight change — realize his temperament is inborn and that his personality is temperament plus his life experience and circumstances.  The only part you can influence directly are the latater two.

All Four Temperaments in One?

I get many emails with questions about temperament.  Here is one on temperament combinations.

“I ws told that I have all four (types) and was told this is unusual.  Am I blessed or cursed. Ewa.”

My response:  I have encountered many who have said that they had “all four temperament types” and this points up the differences between temperament and personality.  Let’s examine a person with a Phlegmatic (laid back, easy-going) temperament.  If this person is raised by Cholerics (hard driving, non-emotionally sensitive),the Phlegmatic will, by necessity, take on some Choleric behaviors simply by being around Cholerics.

Remember that temperament is in-born; personality is your life experience added to your temperament.  You are still most likely a blend of two main types, but circumstances in your life may have caused you to take on the behaviors of temperament types not naturally your own.

To better see your natural temperament, ask yourself two questions.  First, what are my natural weaknesses; the things I “just can’t seem to help”?  If laziness is your weakness, you are probably Phlegmatic.  If you are disorganized, you may be Sanguine.  If you have a tendency to analyze the behaviors of others you may be Melancholy.  If you tend not to care much about how your behavior affects others, you’re probably Choleric.

Secondly, ask yourself how you respond under stress and pressure.  A Phlegmatic will procrastinate, a Sanguine will have sharp emotional outbursts that will quickly go away, a Melancholy will begin to over-analyze everything and a Choleric will get quiet and angry.

Temperament and Marriage

I am not a marriage counselor nor do I play one on the Intarwebs but it seems that some readers think I can help.  Take the following email: “I read some of your info about temperament on your blog.  I am a Melancholy Phlegmatic.  I’ve discovered my temperament capabilities so am cooperating with them and it’s really getting me somewhere!  But I have this trouble; what blend of temperament will suite me as a spouse?  What blend of temperament matches mine?”

To which I reply: There’s never a guarantee in a relationship without the commitment to work on differences with understanding and acceptance.  It also doesn’t work to try and change the other person.  That being said, let’s look at both good and poor natural temperament combinations for your temperament blend.

As a Melancholy Phlegmatic you are a detailed and organized person offset a bit by the lack of drive of the Phlegmatic.  Your weaknesses – a tendency to be openly critical of others and yet a bit unfocused in yourself – would tend to eliminate a Choleric as a match; unless the Choleric drive was their secondary type.

You would be best suited to possibly a Phlegmatic Choleric (laid back but with a bit of drive and able to handle criticism) or a Sanguine Melancholy where the uplifting Sanguine (who is highly unfocused and can be disorganized) is offset by the organized Melancholy secondary type.

It has always been my contention that you need at least ONE of your temperament types to match either the primary or secondary for a degree of temperamental compatibility.  The opposite seems to be true; a Phlegmatic Choleric would have the most difficulty with a Sanguine Melancholy.  In your case you would be least like a Sanguine Choleric.

I want to emphasize however that temperamental compatibility can only go so far without the commitment to the relationship by both parties.  A good relationship is NOT 50/50; it’s 100/100.

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.