In order to make your life less stressful, it is very important to learn about your personality style, the strengths and limitations associated with that style and with whom your personality is most compatible. Personality Plus is the name of a book by Florence Littauer, and it helps you understand your personality and how you interact with others.
By understanding these personality types, you're able to better understand the people around you and learn how to interpret their actions based on their individual personality styles. This will remove some of the guesswork and will eliminate the desire to prematurely jump to conclusions, which often leads to tension and conflict within the work environment.
According to Littauer's Personality Plus, these are the four main personality types and characteristics:
Choleric: This is the commander-type. Cholerics are dominant, strong, decisive, stubborn and even arrogant.
Melancholy: This is the mental-type. Their typical behavior involves thinking, assessing, making lists, evaluating the positives and negatives and general analysis of facts.
Sanguine: This is the social-type. They enjoy fun, socialising, chatting, telling stories – and are fond of promising the world, because that's the friendly thing to do.
Phlegmatic: This is the flat-type. They are indifferent, unexcitable and relaxed.
Positives and Negatives
None of these types are specifically described as positive or negative – each having upsides and downsides. The book makes it clear that the characteristics are for observing and identifying, rather than judging.
- A Choleric is focused on getting things done, but can run rough-shod over others. They are decisive and stubborn.
- A Melancholy is a planner, making sure things happen, although sometimes they can paralyse themselves with over-analysis. Lists and "doing things the right way" are characteristics of this personality type.
- A Sanguine gets on well with people and can get others excited about issues, but cannot always be relied upon to get things done. They love interacting with others and play the role of the entertainer in group interactions. They have a tendency to over-promise and under-deliver.
- A Phlegmatic is neutral – they tend not to actively upset people, but their indifference may frustrate people. They try not to make decisions, and generally go for the status quo.
The Personality Plus system is less about identifying a person's profile, and more about the implications that may have for group interactions. As such, it is used in sales and negotiation training, and for understanding group dynamics in business.
A Choleric might get frustrated by a Phlegmatic who doesn't seem to want to get things done now. This pairing however can work well, though, because Cholerics tend to tell people what to do, and Phlegmatics tend to do what they are told. This coupling often have relationships with each other – although interestingly this may introduce a downward spiral, where the Choleric becomes increasingly commanding, and the Phlegmatic becomes more indifferent through their interactions.
Melancholies might make lists and work through them point by point, and get frustrated by Sanguines who tend to bounce from one idea to the next, often without completing the first.
A simplification might be that a Choleric likes it "my way," a Melancholy likes it "the right way," a Sangine likes it "the fun way" and a Phlegmatic likes it "any way."