Understanding Myself and Others w/ ‘Personality Plus’
I’m one of those people who really likes personality quizzes. I like them especially when I end up with something that highlights all of my positive qualities and downplays all of my weaker points. But when I started getting around a different crowd and around really sharp people I was introduced to a different type of personality quiz through what is now one of my favorite books “Personality Plus” by Florence Littauer. I’ll try to give a make-shift Cliff Notes of what this actually is:
Littauer breaks personality down into four different categories: Melancholy, Phlegmatic, Sanguine, and Choleric. No one truly identifies with just one of these; oftentimes people just go with their two most dominant qualities (i.e. Melancholy-Choleric, Phlegmatic-Melancholy, Sanguine-Choleric, etc).
Choleric – This is the person who gets things done; they seem like a natural-born leader. They have no problem rising to the occassion. They are tenacious and strive to be great achievers. You might find a lot of CEOs or business owners to be in this category (though that’s not always the case). The Downside? They’re a lot more susceptible to having a huge ego and may come off insensitive.
Melancholy – This is the analytical one. This person loves organization and is very task oriented. They love establishing a task and getting to the solution. They tend to be very focused and a lot of times introverted. The Downside: A Melancholy is oftentimes very intelligent and may very well flaunt that intelligence and look down on other personality types (especially their polar opposite, The Sanguine).
Sanguine – The life of the party! Typically the most extroverted of the personality types, the Sanguine is very social and fun loving. They crave new experiences and have no problem carrying a conversation full of interesting stories and wit. The Downside: Sanguines tend to get distracted easily (even when they’re the ones talking), they might not always think ideas all the way through before executing, and punctuality might not be their strongest suit.
Phlegmatic – More often then not, this person is chillin’ and chillin’ hard. Phlegmatics are peaceful; they’re not one to look for confrontation and they’re great listeners. Their go-with-the-flow temperament makes them very easy to get along with. But even the seemingly always neutral Phlegmatics have a Downside: They tend to be indecisive and, while they aren’t necessarily confrontational, having to take orders can still rub them the wrong way.
What makes the book so interesting is not only do you have a chance to learn more about yourself and what makes you tick, but you get to learn the same thing about the other personalities. As you see above, each personality has their strengths but they also all have their qualities that could use some improvement. Also, we can’t expect to only work with, be friends with, or even begin romantic relationships with people of the same personality type. It’s just not going to happen. In fact, in the case of romantic relationships the opposite personalities are typically the ones that end up together. Even the author of this book is a certified Sanguine while her late husband was extremely Melancholy! All the more reason to learn more about each other’s strengths and weaknesses so that we can all just get along.
But here’s what thing that shouldn’t be taken away from this. Your personality and temperament are not excuses to behave in a way that’s not acceptable. For example, my roommate is a very obvious Sanguine. There’s no hiding those qualities about her. For a long time, punctuality was a very big weak point for her. If I ever wanted to go somewhere and knew that she needed to go to the same event, I never wanted to ride with her because I knew it meant that we wouldn’t get there on time. Not maybe–we would.not.be.on.time. My roommate could have easily used her personality as a crutch: “Oh well, I am a Sanguine after all. You can’t expect me to be on time!”
Please note that when you notice a character flaw in yourself and you do absolutely nothing to improve on it, that makes you a jerk. No, instead she diligently worked at being on time. She started changing some habits like getting ready earlier, having an accountability partner, and setting the clock in her car 15 minutes too fast. So now (for the most part) she has the timeliness under control. Even if it’s more difficult and takes more effort, it’s not impossible to improve your weak points!
So learn the art of discernment: give people grace and accept them for who they are (you can give yourself some grace too, by the way). But also know that if you really wanted to, you could make those improvements and make life at least a little bit easier by doing so.
I don’t want to give away too much of the book because Florence really does come in with the wisdom and perspective.
You can find Personality Plus on Amazon
I highly recommend this for anyone; whether you’re in a leadership position and want to better understand others that work with you or you just want to strengthen your personal relationships. Happy Reading!