Excerpts from Personality Plus
By Florence Littauer
‘God made each one of us different, so we could function in our own roles. He made some of us to be feet—to move, administer, to accomplish, like Powerful Choleric. He made some of us to be minds—to think deeply, to feel, to write, like Perfect Melancholy. He made some of us to be hands—to serve, to smooth, to soothe, like Peaceful Phlegmatic. He made some of us to be mouths—to talk, to teach, to encourage, like Popular Sanguine.’
I had never even heard about the four different personalities/temperaments until a colleague handed me this book and told me I must read it.
Although it’s one of those things that you always digest with some salt, I nevertheless found a lot of interesting truths and patterns. I was able to see myself and others reflected so clearly in these temperaments. It’s most definitely worth reading more about these personalities, even if you don’t subscribe to them. I think it’s at the very least much more valuable than astrological signs that people seem to swear by. I’m sure it will help people better understand and appreciate themselves first and foremost and then each other; parents with regards to their children, spouses to each other, teachers with their students and even colleagues; and consequently it has the potential to mend many relationships. Understanding our own and each other’s temperaments will enable us to capitalize on our own strengths, minimize our weaknesses and better complement each other.
Below are a few excerpts from the book that stood out to me:
P35 Popular Sanguines are emotional and demonstrative people…They move, jump, wave and giggle. A Popular Sanguine pastor I know often gets so excited over his sermon that he feels encumbered with one hand holding the Bible and only one free for waving, so he rises up and down on his toes and makes emphatic points with a kick of one foot.
P40 Only a Popular Sanguine could spend two weeks doing nothing and be the only one to receive a commendation for having done it.
P57 The typical Popular Sanguine mother can be talking joyfully on the phone when her child falls off a chair. She screams, “He’s killed himself!” and drops the phone. She grabs the child up and runs through the house, screaming along with him, looking for Band-Aids. The doorbell rings, and it’s the pastor who’s come to call. She lets him in, rushes the child to his crib, throws him a towel to mop up the blood and says, “Don’t you dare cry; that’s the pastor.” She sweeps into the living room with a smile and says sweetly, “Isn’t it a beautiful day!”
P60 As Popular Sanguine and Perfect Melancholy can fill in what’s missing in each other, so will Powerful Choleric and Peaceful Phlegmatic be complementary when they begin to understand and accept each other’s temperaments.
To learn you must want to be taught. (Proverbs 12:1)
P61 Powerful Choleric is the dynamic person who dreams the impossible dream and aims to reach the unreachable star. He feels, like Robert Browning, “A man’s reach must exceed his grasp or what’s heaven for?”
P67 Powerful Cholerics naturally see the practical answers to life’s problems and can’t imagine why no one else has come up with the right idea.
I asked one Powerful Choleric lady to be a committee chairwoman, and she replied, “I’d be glad to be chairwoman if I don’t have to have a committee. Those women get in the way.”
P69 ..so many mothers ignore the potential labor force they have free in their home, because it’s too much work to set up a simple system to delegate responsibilities.
If Powerful Sanguines set out to accomplish a task, and someone says it can’t be done, they thank the person profusely—and quit. Perfect Melancholies regret the time they’ve spent in planning and analyzing the situation, and Peaceful Phlegmatics are grateful it can’t be done, because it sounded too much like work in the first place. But tell Powerful Cholerics it’s impossible, and it just whets their appetite.
P71 …all the lights abruptly went out…my mind immediately went into high gear…lines came to me such as “I’ve gotten to the age now where I look best in dim corners.” “With nothing to look at, you’ll have to listen.”
P75 Six years later she said in Peaceful Phlegmatic dry humor, “The reason I didn’t leave was it was just too much work to pack.”
P76 I asked a young boy about his Peaceful Phlegmatic girlfriend, “What do you like best about her?” He thought for a minute and said, “I guess all of her, because nothing much stands out.” This simple statement sums up Peaceful Phlegmatics; there’s nothing that really stands out, but they are such comfortable, well-rounded people to be with.
P79 Peaceful Phlegmatic doesn’t expect sunshine every day, or a pot of gold at the end of each rainbow, so when rain falls on the Peaceful Phlegmatic’s parade, he can keep on marching.
P81 As the other three temperaments strain and strike, Peaceful Phlegmatic tries to keep peace in the ranks. As men struggle on choppy waters, Peaceful Phlegmatic lifts his head and calms the seas.
P92 Only a Popular Sanguine could spend twenty minutes describing in detail a trip she had never taken on a boat she’d never boarded.
P102 Maturity does not depend on age, it depends on our willingness to face our responsibilities and make realistic plans to meet them.
P106 “I’d rather have phony joy than genuine depression.” Realize no one likes gloomy people. Even if you have every reason in the world to go hang yourself, no-one wants to hear about it.
“My husband is so negative, if we go to see a bad movie, he makes me feel like I produced it.”
P113 “I have never done one thing since we got married that my Perfect Melancholy husband didn’t correct. When I die I’ll have to come back and do it over again, because I’ll never get it right the first time.”
P114 I shared with her that while the Perfect Melancholy felt having everything “just so” was normal, this kind of constant pressure was enough to drive a Popular Sanguine child wild…As she understood this she said, “I thought he was a mental case.” “He will be if you keep this up,” I replied.
P117 “..I would never get impatient if everybody would do what I told them to when I told them to do it!”….and in words only a Powerful Choleric can say with a straight face, he concluded, “Impatience is not a weakness in me; it is a fault in others.”
P121 It’s only logical that we Powerful Cholerics make a business of our pleasure and hire someone to find fun for us!
P122 Because Powerful Choleric values strength in himself, he looks down with little mercy on weaknesses in others. He can’t tolerate sick people and as one friend told me of her Powerful Choleric husband, “When I’m sick he puts me in bed. He says, ‘Come out when you’re well’ and shuts the door.”
P130 In the Powerful Choleric, the tragic flaw is his inability to see that he has any. If only the Powerful Choleric would open his mind to examine his weaknesses and admit he had a few, he could become the perfect person he thinks he is.
P136 Sharon’s mind is like a game of pool. The colorful balls only rolled around when pushed, and had for years clustered cozily in a mesh bag, hanging securely in the corner.
P139 Peaceful Phlegmatic’s problem with making decisions is not that he is incompetent, but that he has made one great decision never to make any decisions. After all, if you don’t make the decision, you’re not held accountable for the outcome.
P151 Understanding our own and other’s temperaments gives us the ability to deal with situations in the future the way we do now in retrospect. As we learn an individual’s temperament, we can anticipate his reactions to different situations and have the available tools on hand to repair the damage before it starts.
We can’t get over something we don’t accept as a problem.
P172 Perfect Melancholies can’t understand that anyone would open their mouths without knowing what they are going to say. Popular Sanguines open their mouths to find out what they are saying…One Popular Sanguine told me, “My husband says my mind is like a gumball machine—all bright colored thoughts rolling around in no particular order and when you press a button, they come pouring out by the handful.
P174 It’s unfortunate for Popular Sanguines that they cry “Wolf!” too often. One lady told me she leaned over a gas burner and her sleeve caught on fire. She screamed to her husband in the other room, “Help! Help! I’m on fire!” and he called back, “You sure are, honey. You’re hot stuff!”
P180 A Powerful Choleric child observed his Powerful Choleric father yell at his Peaceful Phlegmatic mother. Even though he didn’t know the personality differences, he comforted his mother by stating, “When he yells at you, you just yell right back!”
P186 If you use the Peaceful Phlegmatic for a wastebasket today, you may have a basket case on your hands tomorrow.
And be not conformed to this world…(Romans 12:2)
Each one should judge his own conduct… (Galatians 6:4)
Put yourself to the test and judge yourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5)
P191 God made each one of us different, so we could function in our own role. He made some of us to be feet—to move, administer, to accomplish, like Powerful Choleric. He made some of us to be minds—to think deeply, to feel, to write, like Perfect Melancholy. He made some of us to be hands—to serve, to smooth, to soothe, like Peaceful Phlegmatic. He made some of us to be mouths—to talk, to teach, to encourage, like Popular Sanguine.