There have been times in my professional life (and personal as well) when I really wondered if I could communicate and work with certain other individuals. For example, in my incarnation as a Real Estate agent, I always went into a meeting well prepared, with all of the pertinent information and a comprehensive report. Problem was, a certain number of people could never sit through my presentation, asked questions that I thought were off the wall and generally seemed to be in another dimension than I was. Then I read a book that explained it all, and relations with others became much easier.
The book is Personality Plus: How to Understand Others by Understanding Yourself, by Florence Littauer*. In the book, Littauer explains the four personality types that she has observed: choleric, sanguine, melancholy, and phlegmatic. It did not take me long to understand the problem once I understood the four basic types that Littauer described. In particular, my own type stood out quite clearly and I knew right away that those that did not listen to me didn’t for a reason, me! Here are the four types:
Choleric: this is a description that is not hard to imagine; a choleric is a person that always wants to be out in front of the parade and knows exactly where they are going. Of course, the choleric assumes that everyone else can see the correctness of their thinking and will just fall in line. Some do, but when there are two or more cholerics in the group watch out; sparks will fly!
Sanguine: a sanguine is the exact opposite of the choleric; they just want to have fun! A sanguine must always be the center of attention, has lots of energy and does not seem to focus for very long on a single topic. Here was the second inkling of my problem; most of those that I did not connect with were sanguines! According to Littauer, I needed to change my manner in order to work with them.
A sanguine is not hard do identify (as you read this, I am sure at least one sanguine that you know has come to mind!), and it is possible to adapt. In the Real Estate setting, when I began to talk to sanguines more about the excitement of finding a new home or the difficult emotions of leaving a home, my business with them increased.
Melancholy: this is not a sad person, just a well organized one. For a melancholy, planning is everything, and they absolutely must have all the details in place before making a move. Do you know anyone that spends a long time rolling up their sleeves, so to speak, but has a hard time getting going? Probably a melancholy.
Phlegmatic: this personality type is quiet, does not make waves and is slow to make up their mind about something. Once they have made up their mind, try and get them to change it! They can be very stubborn once they have made a decision.
In order to get along better, Littauer states that you must not only know yourself, but the other person as well. Her system of personality type makes it easy to get an idea of where a person is coming from, and then fun to adapt your style and see results. As a choleric (read bulldog) I have had to learn how to step back sometimes and let another choleric lead the way; often to great results. I highly recommend Personality Plus: How to Understand Others by Understanding Yourself, an interesting read and down to earth guide to getting along with others.
* Revell; Revised and Expanded edition (July 1, 1992)
It is easier to understand these personality types in terms of two variables:
1. Task-oriented vs. Person-oriented
2. Outgoing vs. Reserved
These variables create four basic personality types:
a. Person-oriented & outgoing (“Sanguine”)
b. Person-oriented & reserved (“Phlegmatic”)
c. Task-oriented & outgoing (“Choleric”)
d. Task-oriented & reserved (“Melancholy”)
It’s much easier to understand these types because they’re not represented by a somewhat abstract word, rather, by the description of the personality itself.
It is so important to understand your audience – whether you’re a speaker on stage, a salesman, or giving a presentation in a board room. When you know where the others are coming from, you know where to go to get the result.