Thursday, June 10, 2010

Understanding our temperament

For some time now, I’ve been fascinated with understanding what makes people tick. A number of years ago, I read Florence Littauer’s excellent book, Personality Plus, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Not only is the book informative but that gal is a hoot ... she's my kind of gal. She and I are both sanguines so I love her personality. Anyway, I found a website that offers a free personality/temperament test. If you haven’t ever taken one, I think you would enjoy knowing where you fall in the spectrum.

The link for the site is:

Additional information on the temperaments can also be found at:

My test results show that I’m Sanguine/Phlegmatic with the following breakdown:

Sanguine 70% (Strengths 15 and weaknesses 13)

Phlegmatic 18% (Strengths 3 and weaknesses 4)

Melancholy 8% (Strengths 1 and weaknesses 2)

Choleric 5% (Strengths 1 and weaknesses 1)

Understanding about temperaments has been valuable in helping me to understand who I am and how God has wired me. After learning about the four different temperaments, I now know that it's okay to lose my car in the parking lot. After all, sanguines tend to be forgetful.

Also, it's okay to decide to learn how to press flowers, immediately lose interest and years later, my husband throws away the flower press that has never again been opened. After all, sanguines get excited about new projects, start them and immediately lose interest.

Learning about the different temperaments has also helped me in my marriage and in other relationships. I now understand my husband better and know that he's not purposely trying to irritate me. He's just got a different primary temperament than I do.

Now, I know that when he goes shopping with me, it's okay for him to organize the shopping cart. I thought as long as the groceries made it into the cart I was doing okay even though some items were balancing rather precariously on top of other items. As far as I was concerned it was okay because at least they were all in there. However, when he's finished organizing the various items, the shopping cart could be the center fold picture in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine describing how the perfect shopping cart should look. But, it's okay because melancholies like things neat and orderly.

My husband loves photography and I’ve also learned that if he and I go anywhere so he can take pictures, I need to take a book and plan to find a comfy seat where I can read since I know I’ll be there a looong time while he focuses and re-focuses in order to get the perfect shot. After all, melancholies like to do things right and to do them perfect. Their motto is: “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”

Understanding the temperaments has helped me to see that God has created each one of us uniquely. None of us are alike and in many cases, someone's temperament may be the exact opposite of mine but that doesn't mean that they need to be fixed. Instead, I'm learning to understand each person's uniqueness and with that, comes love and acceptance which is the foundation of all healthy relationships.


Maureen said...

Thanks for the link Aida, I am going to check it out. Though I think I must be a sanguine too, from your description. And my hubby is surely a melancholic, judging from the shopping cart and picture taking illustrations. That is us to a "T"! Sometimes I call him "Mr Monk", like the TV series. But after all these years, I should be used to it!

Aida said...

Hi Maureen. Great hearing from you.

I’m glad you can relate. Our differences really do make for some interesting times, don’t they? At times, the difference still annoy me but I am learning to go with the flow more and also to admire the strengths in my husband. I really do need his strengths and willingness to take over and do the job right.

Last year, my sister died in a neighboring state. Since she had no surviving husband or children and I was the family member who lived the closest, I was chosen to be the administrator of her will as well as the person responsible for getting her property ready to be sold. It was a major undertaking and just thinking about it gave me a headache and made me want to go to bed. (That’s the phlegmatic part of me talking.)

However, my melancholy husband jumped into action and immediately got everything organized. He took charge of making sure everything was done. All I did was sign wherever he told me to sign and I made the phone calls he told me to make and I asked the questions he told me to ask. He did an amazing job and the probate court has just approved everything so we can close. The speed with which it was completed was totally due to his melancholy gift for organization. Although he kept me informed every step of the way, I’m still pretty clueless as to what was done.

The truth is that he really does keep my feet on the ground and I’m sure you can say the same thing about your husband. We really do need melancholies.

Lauren said...

Thanks for the link, too. The last time I took a personality test, I was in high school, and I hope I've matured some!

Aida said...

Lauren, the first personality test I took was probably about 10 years ago and, at that time, I was almost evenly divided between sanguine and phlegmatic with a strong melancholy streak. However, as this test shows, the numbers for my sanguine temperament has greatly increased.

In January of this year, God began pulling back the curtains and showing me how he has created me. Since then, it’s like the real ME is starting to come out. When I took the test in the past, many of my answers were determined by learned behavior rather than the way the real ME would respond. Since I’m now learning to see myself with new eyes, my responses to some questions were very different so I believe these new results are closer to the way I really am.

Society, our environment and our circumstances tend to force us into a mold but as we grow in our freedom to be who we are, I believe our figures will change. So, I did find it helpful to take this test again. I think you might too.

Bino M. said...

Hi Aida,

I hate it when my wife (or anyone) keep something on top of the bread in the shopping cart. :) When I give items to the cashier, I always give milk/juice etc first then at the end egg/bread. Well, that is just one example. I struggle with perfectionism. I say 'struggle' because it makes other peoples life harder. But I am also learning to live with it. I have tried so many times to let it go, but it just comes back. I agree, it must be my personality type. And I think when I start to accept that fact, the struggle lessens. Based on your description, I think I am a melancholy type.

Thanks for the link. I will try it out later.

Aida said...

Bino, I think accepting ourselves the way we are is a biggie and does lead to a less stressful lifestyle. Understanding the different personalities has helped me to accept myself and the wonderful thing is that it has also helped me to accept others. Now, I don’t get as stressed as I used to when they don’t act the way I think they should and I also find myself being less judgmental, all of which makes for better relationships.

Joshquinn Andrews said...

Hi Aida!

I wanted to try these personality test for a while and I finally did. I mention about it in the forums.

Anyway, that was interesting on what you talk about. I can see it's possible to easily live with someone if you understand their temperaments (though it's not always the case). Plus it's funny to hear that your husband prefers to stack his/your groceries in the shopping cart. ^_^ That's neat in a way. I should try to see how it would look like.

Aida said...

Hi Josh. I was surprised that my post on the forum generated so much interest but I’ve found that we really are all unique which is what makes people so interesting and relationships so difficult. Understanding personalities has enabled me to be able to laugh and accept the things that others do that once would have hurt my feelings. It’s also enabled me to accept who I am even when I do some quirky things. I just love how God has created me and I wouldn’t want to be anyone else.

Thanks for checking out my blog.