Sanguine – Air
Typically this temperament is associated with creative and artistic types. They would have a reputation for being energetic, changeable and perhaps hard to pin down to long-term commitments. They are outwardly focused and concerned about the world and the environment they live in. People gravitate towards their energy and often find them inspiring.
Choleric – Fire
As the element suggests, this is often seen as a strong personality. Focused on goals, actions and outward success; Cholerics are good at getting things done and getting those around them to follow. At their most positive they are charismatic and charming, however if less well developed they can come across as dogmatic and bullying. They often excel in entrepreneurial and leadership roles.
Phlegmatic – Water
One of the top qualities often associated with this temperament is reliability and calmness. They are seen as hard workers, who will get on with their work with minimum of fuss. Whilst they can make good leaders, it is not something that they would naturally pursue, preferring instead to have their own space and time to do what they wish. Rules and routines are important to them and they do not like to have these interrupted or changed unneccesarily.
Melancholic – Earth
This temperament like its element, has its feet firmly rooted in the ground. They are concerned about the here and now, and do not like needless flights of fancy. Action and roles must have clear purpose, and they are often the first to find fault in poorly put together plans. They tend to be quiet and thoughtful, but are in danger of becoming obsessive, if they are left to worry too much about details.
Using the Four Temperaments in your organisation
The temperaments framework, like any other gives us a common language to consider the similarities and differences that are evident between us and our colleagues. As one of the oldest personality theories, it provides a useful, easy to way in which to reflect on how and why we work the way we do. To help you to do this, consider the following:
- Which one is your type and how might this differ from your boss and your colleagues?
- Does that impact on how you influence others?
- Can it help you to understand conflicts that emerge in the workplace?