Last week I started a mini-series discussing the four main personality types first identified by Hippocrates several hundred years ago. Florence Littauer later expounded on them further with her work and book Personality Plus. Last week I shared about the Choleric and Sanguine personalities. This week I’ll cover the Melancholy and Phlegmatic personalities. If you missed part 1, you can click HERE to get caught up.
The Melancholy is the perfectionist of the group. In the world of a Melancholy, there is a right way and a wrong way to do things; black and white with little to no shades of gray. There is a place for everything and everything has its place. This type A tendency serves them well and makes them perfect for planning or organizing events. However, their perfectionism is also a drawback as it causes them to be very hard on other people, especially when things are not done their way (which they consider to be the right way). Still, if you have something big you need done, you’re going to want a Melancholy on your team. They make up about 30-35% of the population.
- Critical Thinkers
- Analytical; likes charts, graphs, lists
- Talented and creative
- Adheres to schedules and timelines
- Very detail oriented
- Organized and orderly
- Rigid ideas of right and wrong
- Procrastinates waiting for it to be “right”
- Places unrealistic demands on others
- Moody and prone to depression
- Remembers the negative
- An exaggerated need for control
Good examples of the Melancholy personality are Mr. Spock, John the Baptist, Monica from Friends, and Hermione Granger from Harry Potter.
The easiest of the personalities to get along with, the Phlegmatic is the most good-natured of the four. They provide stability and balance to the other three. Phlegmatics are rarely rattled by anything and can remain calm even in the midst of the most chaotic situations. This laid back nature can be extremely frustrating at times because Phlegmatics almost never want to be responsible for making a decision. They make up about 20-25% of the population.
- Easy going and relaxed
- Good under pressure
- Quiet but witty
- Steady and stable
- Good listener
- Not goal oriented
- Resent being pushed to do something
- Resistant to change
- Tend to avoid conflict at any cost
Good examples of the Phlegmatic personality are Professor X of the X-Men, Abraham from the Bible, Neville from Harry Potter and Raj from the Big Bang Theory.
Although everyone has some combination of all the types, for most people, at least one of the personalities will be dominant . However, what ultimately drives how you behave is both your primary and secondary types. No one is all just one personality type and the presence of the secondary type drives your behavior almost as much as the primary.
For example, two people may have the dominant traits of a Choleric but one has the secondary traits of a Melancholy, while the other person’s secondary is Sanguine. The CholMel will be much more ordered and demanding than the CholSan because the strengths of the Melancholy are driving them as well (this is my personality combination). Likewise, the CholSan will be more outgoing than the the CholMel because of the natural extroverted nature of the Sanguine.
My goal in sharing about the temperaments is not to put you in a box but rather to help you have a framework for understanding what drives you and the people around you. I want you to know yourself so you can do you on purpose, without apology. As I mentioned last week, no one personality type is better or worse than another; it simply is what it is. You have been wired and beautifully designed to be just who you are. The goal is that you learn to identify your strengths so you can play to them and manage your weaknesses so they don’t become a liability for you.
If you don’t already know your primary temperament or you’re curious to see if the results come out the same, you can click HERE to download the Personality Plus test and score sheet. I have also provided you with a definition of the words included on the test so if you get hung up on a word, you can look it up to see how the word is being used in this context.
As you take the test, be honest! Answer based on how you are the majority of the time, not on occasion or how you hope you are but on how you actually are. Remember you are worth celebrating no matter the results. If you really can’t decide ask your spouse or close friend; they’ll be happy to help you out :) You can take the test directly on your computer, just be sure to hit save as you go along so you don’t lose your results.
Once you have your result come back here and share both your primary and secondary personality types, in the comments below. I’d love to hear your results and how surprised you were by your results. Next week I’ll be talking about how to be confident in who you are. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing your results.