Hippocrates, the Father of medicine, classified four types of humors in people. Each type was believed to be due to an excess of one of four bodily fluids, corresponding to their character. The personalities were termed humors such as choleric (yellow bile), sanguine (blood), phlegmatic (phlegm) and melancholic (black bile). The four fluids were formerly considered responsible for one’s health and disposition.
Florence Littauer in her book Personality Plus, gives each of these personalities a clear description.
Cholerics are powerful, driven, born leaders.
Sanguines are popular, the life of the party, creative and charming.
Phlegmatics are peace-loving, gentle, patient and sensitive.
Melancholics are seeking perfection, precision, and doings things right.
As we learn an individual’s temperament, we can anticipate his/her reaction to different situations. It can also be a powerful tool for self-improvement and growth when we recognize strength and weaknesses connected to each personality.
A few months ago I went to a leadership seminar in St. Louis. One of the speakers was Dr. Robert Rohm. Dr. Rohm approaches the personalities from the DISC concept.
Robert drew a circle first, dividing it into four quarters. He determined the top half as outgoing and the bottom half as reserved. He declared the left side as task oriented and the right side as people oriented.
The choleric become the Dominant Personality, being direct, determined, decisive, doers, directors, dogmatic, dreamers and diligent. They need challenges, choices and be in control. On the negative side they are defiant. About 10% of the whole population has this personality. They are motivated by results.
The sanguines become the Inspiring Personality, being influencing, inducing, impressing, interesting, impressionable, important, interchangeable, interested in people, imaginative (dreamer), and impulsive. They need recognition, approval and popularity. On the negative side they are illogical. About 25-30% of the population has this personality. They are motivated by fun.
The phlegmatic become the Supportive Personality, being steady, stable, secure, serving, sweet, submissive, shy, status quo (don’t like changes), sentimental, and like sameness. They need appreciation, security, and approval. On the negative side they are suckers. About 30-35% of the population has this personality. They are motivated by peace and harmony.
The melancholics become the Cautious Personality, being competent, cognitive, careful, calculating, critical thinking, compliant, conservative, correct, conforming, and consistent. They need quality answers, excellence, and value. On the negative side they appear cold. About 20-25% of the population has this personality. They are motivated by quality answers, value and being correct.
When we look at the DISC, we find that in relationships, the opposite quadrants seem to attract each or complement each other best. Many people are a blend of two personality styles. We all can learn from each others styles, becoming more integrated with each other as we grow and learn about each other.
Knowing about the personality styles has helped me a lot in my working environment. My personality is Supportive with some Cautious influence. I have had some very strong Dominant personality bosses lately. The only way I could deal with them successfully was what I learned about the different styles. I knew that I could contribute a lot through my supportive style and learn to be more assertive and upbeat.
My husband is the Cautious personality. When he is around I feel very secure and protected. My daughter is a mixture of Dominant and Cautious. She challenges me and keeps me grounded. My son's personality is much like mine. He is very laid back and sentimental.
I believe that it is part of our purpose here on earth to learn and grow. The awareness of the personality style brings insights and many rewards to our daily lives. I go back to my notes often and also read Dr. Rohm's book Positive Personality Profiles.
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