We pull into the Walmart parking lot that is already packed and I can feel the dread building in my chest. Walmart is NEVER a good experience for me. My husband is driving and I start scanning for any open parking spaces. ANY. “Pull in that spot,” I prod. He barely glances at the gaping, wide-open spot and keeps driving. For another three minutes, we crawl through every row as my husband diligently searches for a spot that is closer to the front. By this time, my dread of Walmart has mingled with seething frustration because, I surmise, we could have been three minutes closer to being done and out of here.
Finally, a space tucked up right against a handicap parking spot appears like the opening of the Red Sea for Moses and I start fidgeting in excitement. My husband has that “I told you so” smirk on his face as he accelerates toward it – only to have a red minivan glide into it from nowhere. “That’s it! Let me out here!”, I screech. I crawl out and relinquish the parking spot challenge to my husband. I am so done.
Sound like a familiar page from your diary-of-life experiences? How would you have reacted in that Walmart parking lot? Your answer may largely depend on your personality.
Let’s talk about personality. Personality is the influence behind your perspective on life, your nature, the psyche that drives you, and the temperament that people either love or hate you for. (Little extreme, but close enough.)
Personality Temperament? We All Have One (or Two)!
Whoa. Now we are thrown into categories – temperaments? Hey, I didn’t write the book but I can share with you someone who DID write one. 🙂
Personality Plus by Florence Littauer is a fun read if you want a little background knowledge to how unique we are in the personality department. When my husband and I sat down to read this book (Actually, I read- he interjected his opinions), we kept rolling our eyes and looking at each other saying, “Oh, that is SO you!”
In her book, Florence explains that there are four basic personality temperaments: sanguine, melancholic, choleric, and phlegmatic. Naturally, we can also be a combination of two or more of these temperaments, but we are usually dominated by one. Ready to take a peek?
Sanguines are the fun lot. They are known for being the “life of the party” and great storytellers. Talking your ear off is one of their favorite pastimes. They love people and are quick to apologize. Do you need a volunteer for a project? Sanguines will be quick to volunteer but…well…don’t actually always follow through with the project. It has to be fun and entertaining in order to satisfy their craving for adventure.
Realistically, they are bit self-centered and, while they love to engage with you, remembering your name is not at the top of their priority list. Don’t worry, though, if you forget THEIR name, they are quick to forgive and not hold a grudge.
People with this personality tend to be the philosophers of the world who seek to make the universe a perfect place. They crave order and will create graphs and lists to make sure projects are accomplished in a systematic fashion. My best friend is melancholic and the soup and vegetable cans in her pantry stand proud like well-disciplined soldiers with all labels facing forward and neatly organized. I am so impressed with this because I am melancholic myself. (Organizing things during my vacation is way more satisfying than an over-priced trip to Disneyland any day.) We get along so well because we always play by the rules in life and understand the need to analyze the world’s imperfections.
As a friend, you will not find anyone more devoted than a melancholic person. They will listen with compassion and then set right out to solve your problems for you. Be careful how you offer advice, though. These gentle souls tend to take things more seriously and get their feelings hurt easily. Oh, and don’t get offended if they don’t think your jokes are funny. They also lean toward a more serious side and may overanalyze the punchline.
You can spot a choleric male a mile away with his red “power” tie and thunderous, demanding voice. If you want something done, this is your person. This doesn’t mean that THEY will actually do it themselves, but will have no problem rounding up workers and barking out orders to get it done. They love to delegate and organize and are good at it too.
My husband is a proud choleric who makes sure the family turns lights off when we leave a room and expects someone’s name by every item on the chore list. As a melancholic, I respond to his organization qualities, but don’t succumb as well to his APPROACH to how he gets things done. When he gives orders for a project, I salute and say, “Yes, sir”, (yeah, right) and go find a more efficient way to organize it so that it will flow smoothly and have a deep, meaningful purpose behind it (Because we melancholics crave true purpose for our actions, which is why I almost lost my cool with the parking lot incident – “Is there some REASON why we have to have a certain parking space?”).
You don’t want to get into an argument with a choleric, because, in their eyes, they are pretty much never wrong. They may have all the answers to solve world peace, but you will be hard-pressed to get a warm, cuddly hug from this personality because they are not overly emotional creatures. However, as long as they are the center of attention and are given proper respect, they will be your greatest ally.
You might need to carry a pocket full of firecrackers to throw at this personality to get them up and motivated to finish a task because they are usually not in any hurry to get things done. However, if you want someone who will “stop and smell the roses” with you, you have just met your bosom friend. Patience and unnerving calm oozes from their pores and they are the perfect candidate to sit and pour your problems out to. They have a sympathetic, listening ear but don’t expect them to share too much of their own feelings – they tend to prefer to keep them hidden.
Also, if you need a cheerleader to keep you excited about something, a phlegmatic may be a bit of a downer with their lack of enthusiasm and need to “think about things a good long while.” However, if you feel like your world is crashing down around you, a good session with a phlegmatic, who does well under pressure and loves to mediate problems, may be just what the doctor ordered.
Personality and Getting Along With the World
You may not fit neatly into one of these personality slots, and you may even be a combination of more than one (that could range from pleasant to explosive!), but I am betting at least one person that you know came to mind as you read over the characteristics. Personality explains a lot about what rates at the top of your priority list and what ends up in the purgatory of procrastination. It is good to have a small perspective of the world outside of your own little niche so that you can understand that what may be mundane in your world could be an extraordinary in another’s.
So, we let the choleric indulge in a little power trip, set the melancholic to work on our office redecorating project, give the sanguine our next party’s guest list, and spend the rest of the day discussing philosophy with the phlegmatic over a cup of coffee. Everyone’s in their “happy place” and there’s nothing wrong with that, right?
We came out of Walmart with more than we went in for (which always happens…) and headed for the car. Naturally, my husband had secured a prime spot – in spite of my previous exasperation – so we didn’t have far to walk. I had to admit, it was kind of nice. I even went as far as to admit that out loud (because melancholics believe in giving credit where it is due). We were chatty and cracking jokes as we pulled out of the lot and merged onto the main road.
Until, that is, he decided to take the side road next to the freeway instead of just hopping on the freeway. “Why are you taking this road? It takes longer to go this way,” I started in. “This way is less traffic,” he answered gruffly, “and there are fewer trucks to kick up rocks on our windshield.” I could not contain the slight shake of my head and soft sigh as I weighed the unlikeliness of those possibilities affecting us in any measurable way. But, much to my credit, I kept my mouth shut and consoled myself with the fact that we only have ONE parking space (next to the motorcycle) in the garage…