Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Four Temperaments

If we consider the reaction of various persons to the same experience, we will find that it is different in every one of them; it may be quick and lasting, or slow but lasting; or it may be quick but of short duration, or slow and of short duration. This manner of reaction, or the different degrees of excitability, is what we call "temperament." There are four temperaments: the choleric, the melancholic, the sanguine, and the phlegmatic.

The sanguine temperament is marked by quick but shallow, superficial excitability; the choleric by quick but strong and lasting; the melancholic temperament by slow but deep; the phlegmatic by slow but shallow excitability. The first two are also called extroverts, outgoing; the last two are introverts or reserved.


The Sanguine temperament personality is fairly extroverted. People of a sanguine temperament tend to enjoy social gatherings, making new friends and tend to be quite loud. They are usually quite creative and often daydream. However, some alone time is crucial for those of this temperament. Sanguine can also mean very sensitive, compassionate and thoughtful. Sanguine personalities generally struggle with following tasks all the way through, are chronically late, and tend to be forgetful and sometimes a little sarcastic. Often, when pursuing a new hobby, interest is lost quickly when it ceases to be engaging or fun. They are very much people persons. They are talkative and not shy. For some people, these are the ones you want to be friends with and usually they become life long friends.

A person with a dominance of sanguine traits tends to be an extrovert (outgoing) and is usually an optimist. They like to talk, laugh a lot and love things to be fun. They enjoy being with people and they are often the life of the party. They are happy go lucky sort of people.

Some Sanguine Traits
Fun loving
• Talkative
• Warm
• Friendly
• Like to laugh
• Persuasive
• Disorganised
• Forgetful
• Happy go lucky
• Life of party

There are a few clues to help you decide if a client is a sanguine. Firstly they smile a lot, wide smiles and bright eyes. They tend to use open body language, will be the first to reach out to shake hands and make eye contact. They can be charming and friendly.

They like relationships and encounters to be fun. They can be easily distracted. When working with sanguine people they like you to have a light, breezy and fun attitude. They can be disorganised and forgetful. So it pays to give them brief outlines to hold their attention and write things down so they can remember what was discussed.

Some keys to recognising sanguine at first glance
Wide smile
• Open body language
• Bright eyes
• Will talk first
• Reach out for handshake first

When you have a client who has a sanguine type personality they like to talk, so let them talk. But you can still guide the conversation to find out what you need to know. They enjoy jokes and don’t like to be too serious. They dislike routine, dull tasks, details and criticism. They like to be the centre of attention they do not like to be ignored.

Working with someone with sanguine traits
Let them talk
• Guide the conversation gently
• Smile
• Make eye contact
• Give outlines not details
• Use images

Some other names used for the sanguine personality

· Expressive
· Artisan
· Sensing
· Intuitive
· Influencing


A person who is choleric is a do-er. They have a lot of ambition, energy, and passion, and try to instill it in others. They can dominate people of other temperaments, especially phlegmatic types. Many great charismatic military and political figures were cholerics. They like to be leaders and in charge of everything.

One theory on the personality styles estimates that about 3% of the population are choleric. When you consider choleric’s are born leaders it is just as well they only make up 3%.

Most great leaders have been people with dominant choleric traits. When working with people with choleric characteristics the important thing to know is they like control. They are born leaders and dislike being told what to do.

Some choleric traits:

Born leaders

• Like control

• Have strong personalities

• Decisive

• Know what they want

• Can be bossy

• Organised

• Practical

• Productive

• Visionary

A person with a dominance of choleric traits is like the sanguine outgoing and optimistic. They are also very decisive and can make decisions quickly. They are the sort of people who get things done. Being direct and independent they are well organized and simulate activity.

As great leaders they can be productive, resolute, practical and visionary. They tend to move quickly and look like they are in charge. When this sort of person walks into a room everyone usually sits up and takes notice. The choleric person can do many things at the same time they have an abundance of energy. They can actually exhaust everyone else. They tend to thrive on activity and do not like to stay still for long.

Some keys to recognising choleric at first glance

Move quickly

• Will take the lead

• Direct

• Talk quickly

• Have strong hand shake

• Look you straight in the eye

With their strong personalities they can boss everyone around. They appear to have a bundle of confidence. They are the sort of people who want things done yesterday. Designers working with these sorts of characters will find they like to control projects and they are very clear about what they want. They don’t like fuss or as they sometimes say ‘This lovey dovey stuff’.

Working with someone with choleric traits

Be professional

• Be prepared

• Let them talk

• Be honest

• Have a confident air

• Show no fear

• Be concise

• Make short clear statements

• Give outlines not details

• Use images

• Pay attention

• They do not suffer fools gladly

Yesterday I mentioned how I had worked out a colour for the four main personality types. If a person with choleric traits was a colour. It would be my guess they would be red. Red demands attention and promotes activity. Just like the choleric person. I read somewhere studies were carried out in a staff room. When staff room walls were painted red the staff did not stay in the room very long. Thus making it an ideal colour for staff the room as it encouraged people to quickly return to work.


A person who is a thoughtful ponderer has a melancholic disposition. Often very considerate and get rather worried when they could not be on time for events, melancholics can be highly creative in activities such as poetry and art - and can become occupied with the tragedy and cruelty in the world. A melancholic is also often a perfectionist. They are often self-reliant and independent; one negative part of being a melancholic is sometimes they can get so involved in what they are doing they forget to think of others.

Designers take time with those with a melancholic mind

The gentle sensitive person with melancholy traits can be genius prone. Many great artists have been people with a melancholy temperament. The troubled artist Vincent Van Gogh is an example of a person with melancholy traits.

They have perfectionist tendencies. If you want something done perfectly; just call on the person with melancholy traits. They are very task orientated, take in every detail and aim for accuracy. The melancholic type person tends to be orderly organised and able to find creative solutions.

Some melancholy traits:
· Detailed
· Organised
· Creative
· Perfectionists
· Careful
· Cautious
· Competent

The melancholy person tends to be more interested in getting the job done that wasting time talking. Being deep thinkers they take their time before making decisions. However they can take so long to think things through they can find it hard to come to a decision or finish a job.

Some keys to recognising melancholy at first glance
· Serious
· Often appear shy
· Can listen without looking at the person speaking
· Can have a far away look
· Usually dress in understated way
· Speaks quietly

Treat the gentle, easily offended melancholy person with care. They hate to think someone maybe laughing at them. They do not like confusion or noise. They usually hate trivial pursuits and do not like to jollied along.

Working with someone with melancholy traits
· Be accurate
· Be detailed
· Take time
· Be honest
· Have a quiet air
· Explain things clearly
· Be prepared for questions
· Conduct interviews with this client in a private place
· Make sure you will not be interrupted
· Give detail reasons for your selections
· Be reassuring
· Gentle
· They like graphs and schedules

It can take time to earn the trust of a person with a melancholy personality. They can be suspicious and negative. They tend to sit back and view the world. They don’t smile a lot so it is often difficult to know when they are happy or pleased with your suggestions. They tend to see all the problems in situations. They want every ‘i’ dotted and every ‘t’ crossed.

Phlegmatics tend to be self-content and kind. They can be very accepting and affectionate. They may be very receptive and shy and often prefer stability to uncertainty and change. They are very consistent, relaxed, rational, curious, and observant, making them good administrators and astronauts.

Designers helping the phlegmatic to make decisions will bring success
A person with a phlegmatic temperament hates conflict and confrontation. They tend to be motivated by loving approval. They prefer to work in a team. It is bliss to the phlegmatic ear to hear we can do this together. Not you do this and you do that.

Some phlegmatic traits
• Easy going
• Relaxed
• Faithful
• Reliable
• Find it difficult to take initiative
• Relate well to others

Australians have a saying which would suit the phlegmatic person very well. The saying ‘She’ll be right mate’. They are happy to take instructions. They prefer not to be in charge. It has been estimated by some personality theorist about 68% of the population have a dominance of phlegmatic traits.

Some keys to recognising phlegmatic at first glance

Moves slowly
• Friendly
• Good listener
• They lean against things
• Tend to be watchers
• Appear relaxed

Phlegmatic people are inoffensive. They can be lazy and avoid responsibility. But can be faithful reliable workers. Family are very important to them. The will put family before work every time.

HumourSeasonElementOrganQualitiesAncient nameModernMBTIAncient characteristics
Bloodspringairliverwarm & moistsanguineartisanSPcourageous, hopeful, amorous
Yellow bilesummerfiregall bladderwarm & drycholericidealistNFeasily angered, bad tempered
Black bileautumnearthspleencold & drymelancholicguardianSJdespondent, sleepless, irritable
Phlegmwinterwaterlungscold & moistphlegmaticrationalNTcalm, unemotional

No comments:

Post a Comment