His energy can make him seem more confident than he actually is and his cheery disposition often
cause others to excuse his weaknesses by saying, "That's just how he is". The sanguine is mostly a
happy person whom others are glad to have around.
The weakness of the sanguine include a lack of discipline which can be expressed in many ways -
including a generally "messy" lifestyle or overeating. The sanguine is the most emotional of the
temperaments and can burst into tears or a rage without warning. These "bursts" are usually over as fast
as they occur but this lack of emotional consistency can affect other areas of his life. He may be
"morally flexible" and may take advantage of others via his good nature.
A sanguine's tremendous personal talents can be made or broken by his lack of self-discipline.
1. Decisive, NT - Rational - The choleric is the most forceful and active of the four types. He is strong-
willed and independent and opinionated. The choleric thrives on activity. He is the most practical and
makes sound, quick decisions. He is not afraid of obstacles and tends to drive right through or over
problems. He is probably the strongest natural leader of the four types. He has the most problem with
anger and does not display compassion easily. He is quick to recognize opportunities and quick to
capitalize on them - though details irritate him and, unless he learns to delegate, he will often gloss over
details. His strong will and determination may drive him to succeed where more gifted people give up.
The choleric is a developer and may be seen in construction supervision or coaching or law
enforcement. Most entrepreneurs are choleric. Because of their impatience they often end up doing
everything themselves. A choleric is extremely goal/task oriented in leading others. His biggest
weakness as a leader is a tendency to run right over people if he feels they are in his way. He assumes
that approval and encouragement will lead others to slack off and he probably finds criticism and
faultfinding more useful for his purposes. Through his natural determination he may succeed where
others may give up.
A choleric's weaknesses include anger and hostility. A choleric is the most likely to have an active
temper; he is a door slammer and horn blower and he can carry a grudge for a long time. This includes
a cutting and sarcastic tongue and the choleric will rarely hesitate to tell someone off. The choleric is
the least likely to show affection or any public show of emotion. His emotions are the lease developed
of all the temperaments. Additionally a choleric can be inconsiderate, opinionated and crafty in getting
their own way.
1. Conscientious, SJ - Guardian - The melancholy is an introverted temperament type. His natural style
is analytical and perfectionist. He is the most moody of types ranging from highly "up" to gloomy and
depressed. During his low periods he can be very antagonistic and does not make friends easily. He is
the most dependable of the temperaments due to his perfectionist tendencies. His analytical ability
allows him to accurately diagnose obstacles and problems which often keep him from making changes
- he prefers the status quo and may seem overly pessimistic.
He may choose a difficult life vocation involving personal sacrifice. Many melancholies become
doctors or scientists or artists. Their interpersonal style can be critical and negative. He tends to be
more indecisive than other types. They have difficulty giving praise and approval because they cannot
bring themselves to say something that is not 100% true. They also are usually dissatisfied with
themselves being highly self-critical.
Other weaknesses include being "thin skinned" or touchy and easily offended. He often feels
persecuted and may seek revenge for real or imagined insults. He tends to be "all or nothing" in his
evaluation of things; everything must be black or white and no shades of gray. He is least likely to
consider mitigating circumstances when evaluating a person or situation. No temperament is more
likely to be legalistic and rigid. He can be intolerant and impatient with those who do not see things his
1. Steady, NF - Idealist - the phlegmatic is best characterized by the words "easy going". He is the calm
and steady person who is not easily disturbed. He is the easiest temperament type to get along with.
Life for him is happy, unexcited and calm. Underneath the calm exterior, the phlegmatic is the most
timid temperament type. He often uses humor to make his points. The phlegmatic is more an observer
and does not involve himself in the activities of others.
Phlegmatics make excellent teachers, counselors and administrators. They are very dependable and
organized and, while they never volunteer, they make good group leaders.
The weakness of a phlegmatic include lack of motivation or even laziness; they appear to lack drive
and ambition. A phlegmatic needs to realize that he is not internally motivated and take up activities
that force him into action. The phlegmatic is self-protective and may be selfish. He is often very
stubborn, though it is hidden beneath his mild-mannered style. He is also the most fearful of
After defining each temperament in "black and white" we must look realize that no one is completely
one temperament type. Each of us is a blend of usually two and occasionally 3 types. One temperament
type is dominant and one is secondary. And don't forget that training, lifestyle, upbringing and other
circumstances may have forced an individual to function "off style". The saddest people I have seen are
those who have "put on" a style that is not theirs naturally for so long that it has become a habitual way
V. The sixteen "combinations"
A. SanChol (ID) is the strongest extrovert of all the blends because both primary types are extroverted.
They are people-oriented and enthusiastic but with the resolutions of the choleric tempering the lack of
organization of the Sanguine. He is almost always a sports enthusiast and is ideal in sales. He can talk
too much and can be obnoxious if threatened. The forgetfulness of the sanguine and the caustic nature
of the choleric may make them hurtful without realizing it.
B. SanMel (IC) are highly emotional people whose moods can fluctuate from highs to lows and back
again quickly. The sanguine outgoing nature often allows the melancholy's critical nature "out" too
easily. It is very easy for a Sanmel to "get down" on themselves and, to realize their potential, it is best
if they work with others.
C. SanPhleg (IS) The overpowering outgoing nature of the sanguine is tempered by the gracious
phlegmatic. These are extremely happy and carefree individuals who live to help people. They would
not purposely hurt anyone but they must fight a lack of workplace motivation - they would rather visit
D. CholSan (DI) The second strongest extrovert is an active and purposeful individual. He is almost
fearless and has high levels of energy. Whatever his profession, his brain is always active and engaged.
His weaknesses combine the quick anger of the sanguine with the resentment of the choleric. He gets
AND gives ulcers. He may leave people, including spouse and children, shell-shocked and resentful of
their angry outbursts.
E. CholMel (DC) The choleric/melancholy is very industrious and capable. He is both industrious and
detailed. He combines verbal aggressiveness with sharp attention to detail. He is very competitive and
forceful. He can be autocratic and opinionated with work habits that keep after details until the job is
completely finished. He finds interpersonal relationships difficult due to the hard-to-please nature of
the choleric and the perfectionism nature of the melancholy.
F. CholPhleg (DS) is the most subdued of the outgoing temperaments. He is extremely capable in the
long run though he may not impress you that way at first. He is organized and a good planner. He often
gets more accomplished than other temperaments because he always thinks in terms of enlisting others
to help him. His weaknesses include a tendency to quietly harbor bitterness rather than letting it out like
a Cholmeg might. Acknowledging weaknesses is difficult for him and he tends to worry about his
performance in life activities.
G. MelSan (CI) the detailed and organized melancholy is tempered by the outgoing and warm
sanguine. He makes an excellent teacher as his organized side is well versed in the facts and his
sanguine side makes him enjoyable to attend to. If he goes into sales it will be sales that call for
exacting detail and the presentation of many facts. He is an emotional person - from being moved to
tears to being critical and hard on others. Both temperaments can be fearful which may make this an
insecure person with a poor self-image.
H. MelChol (CD) is both a perfectionist and a driver which may lead him into the law or medicine.
They mix decisiveness and determination. Because of the critical nature of the melancholy they may be
very difficult to please. If they become negative about someone or something it will have a tendency to
stay with them for a long time. Their combination can lead them to "nit-pick" others and be revengeful
to those they have a grudge against.
I. MelPhleg (CS) are often teachers and scholars. They are not as prone to hostility as other melancholy
blends and combine analysis with organization. They make excellent accountants and bookkeepers.
Unfortunately he can become easily discouraged and may be susceptible to fear and anxiety. They may
become uncooperative because of stubborn, rigid tendencies.
J. PhlegSan (SI) is the easiest to get along with being congenial, happy, and people-oriented. They
make excellent administrators and other jobs that involve getting along with people. He may lack
motivation and discipline and may fall short of his true capabilities. He may "putter around" for years
without making progress.
K. PhlegChol (SD) This is the most active of the introverts but he'll never be a ball of fire. He can be an
excellent counselor because he is an active listener. He is practical and helpful and patient. He may
lack motivation and may become stubborn if threatened. He may also have a tendency toward being
sedentary and passive. He needs to be around other people as he is externally motivated.
L. PhlegMel (SC) is gracious and quiet, does the proper thing and is dependable. He wobbles between
patience and criticism and may tend toward negativism. They can be afraid of overextending
themselves so may avoid involvement in a group.
VI. Other factors that shape personality
Just as no one is only one temperament or an exact blend of two types, there are a multitude of other
factors that affect a person's behavior. The percentage of blend may be any combination of percentages
making them more one type than another.
A choleric raised in the northeast US may exhibit different behavior than one raised in the deep south
due to cultural differences.
Childhood experiences and parenting will cause differences. A Phlegmatic father may behave
differently in raising a child than a melancholy one thereby causing the child to value different
A person's level of education and training may affect behavior as will a person's level of physical
health. A healthy phlegchol may seem more outgoing and aggressive than a choleric with health
In certain individuals there may be parts of three temperament types blended together. While rare, it
does happen and makes it more difficult for the person to get a clear picture of their type.
VII. How to use temperament to your advantage
A. Know yourself - knowing your temperament blend can be an "eye-opening" experience. It may help
explain why you do certain things and why you don't get along with certain others. Use your
knowledge of temperament to guide you in choosing vocations, affiliations, and friendships.
B. Get along with others - learning how to spot the temperament of others is invaluable. It takes
practice but once you can spot a choleric you know not to try and be "chatty" with them. If you spot a
phlegmatic you may understand why they seem quiet and reserved.
C. Work life - This is a key area of understanding temperament. There are so many people in life who
are in jobs that do not match their temperament. A sangphleg may not make a good surgeon. A cholmel
probably wouldn't be happy teaching kindergartners. Tests of temperament often include suggestions
concerning career choices.
D. Relationships - another key area. Cholerics get impatient with Sanguines. Melancholies think that
Phlegmatics "just don't care" about details. And in marriage we more often than not see opposite
temperaments together. This can help each individual grow and develop or it can cause anger,
resentment and separation. Understanding your temperament and your child's can affect parenting
style. A melancholy child needs structure, organization and reassurance. A choleric child needs a big
backyard and a large dog to take care of. A phlegmatic mother needs to be firm with a sanguine child.
A. Can you change your personality? You cannot change your basic temperament styles but you can
influence your behaviors and thereby your personality. The biggest mistake I've seen is someone who
has "put on" behaviors that were not theirs' naturally until it has become habitual. It is almost always
obvious and often painful. An example is a phlegmatic who felt is necessary to put on an outgoing
sanguine style for so many years that it has become a habit; however it is clear that this is not their
natural way of being.
B. Can you change someone else's personality? If you can't change you own, it is clear that you can't
change someone else's but that won't stop most of us from trying. This is an special problem in
marriage and child raising if the spouse or parent thinks the other person can be "improved" on. In
Dicken's David Copperfield, Mr. Murdstone and his sister fatally try to impress their choleric nature on
sanguine Mrs. Copperfield. Husbands and wives who think they will change their spouse may affect
some behavior changes and think they have "changed" them. Changes are only fully implemented
when they come from within the person and then they will still be in line with their basic temperament
C. Why do people so often marry opposite temperament? The first person to find out the underlying
answer to this one will retire wealthy. Seriously, what attracts us to another person? Often it is the
strengths we see in them that we do not have temperamentally. A choleric woman may appreciate the
easygoing nature of the phlegmatic. A disorganized Sanguine appreciates the orderly manner of a
melancholy. Unfortunately, over time, we realize that our natural strengths are usually their natural
weaknesses which can cause friction or even a feeling of betrayal; that is, "if he really loved me, he
wouldn't be so disorganized, or angry, or rigid".
D. Why do different temperament types irritate us? Again, it's usually a matter of strengths and
weaknesses. A straightforward choleric is irritated by a highly verbal sanguine. A highly organized
melancholy finds a phlegmatic's laid back nature to go "against their grain". The phlegmatic is the most
likely to ignore these irritations. The choleric is the most likely to bring them out in the open.
E. Is one temperament "better" than another? Each of us is who we are - we were made that way based
on inherited temperament characteristics. Each temperament type at some time thinks another type is
"better" but that feeling is usually related to something they admire in that person that they cannot do
easily. So a quiet phlegmatic envies the Sanguines easy outgoing manner and the disorganized
sanguine may envy the melancholy's natural organization. Each type is better at some things and worse
at others. The trick is to match the personality to the situation - which very rarely happens in normal
F. How does knowing my temperament help me? "Why do I do the things I do?" is a question many of
us have asked ourselves at one time or another. Temperament study gives us insight into some of those
"whys". A choleric with a quick temper, the talkative sanguine, or the organized melancholy now has
an underlying reason for behavior. The trick is not to let temperament become an excuse for negative
G. What jobs are best for each temperament type? Again there are many other factors to consider but in
general cholerics make good leaders (managers or executives) if they can control their tendency to
criticize and get angry. Sanguines make good teachers if they can keep themselves organized.
Phlegmatics make good counselors or pastors; anywhere where noncritical listening and relating can be
helpful. Melancholies are good anywhere organization is important including the law and medical
professions. Cholerics don't like jobs where easygoing relating to others is important. Phlegmatics don't
care for jobs where they must be outgoing and talkative. Melancholies detest jobs where they have little
control over their circumstances and sanguines don't like jobs where they must work alone for periods
H. Help! I'm not just a blend of two types - I can see traits of three! This is where temperament tests
can be useful as well as talking with someone familiar with temperament theory. If we inherit
temperament then it's certainly possible to inherit a blend of three temperament types.
I. What are quick "cues" that I can use to "read" a person's temperament? Again, the phlegmatic will be
calm, quiet and easygoing. The melancholy will be precise, analytical and critical in conversation. A
sanguine will always be the most verbal and will often be a "toucher". The choleric will be
straightforward, even abrupt and most easily angered.
J. I hate my job! Is that a temperament thing? If you dislike the job because it doesn't "fit" your type,
then yes it may be temperament related. List those things you dislike about the job (i.e. relationships,
tasks, etc., NOT "it doesn't pay enough".) and compare them to your temperamental strengths and
weaknesses. This should give you insight into whether or not your job dislike is temperamental.
K. I love my husband (wife, child) but I can't stand certain traits. How can I change them? Again, you
cannot change a person's temperament type any more than you can change their eye color. Real change
comes when a person sees the need to change and not before. Externally forced change is never real
and can cause unhappiness and friction. Encourage the other's natural strengths and discourage their
natural weaknesses. Realize that you may cause the same feelings in others that do not have your
L. How do the different temperament systems match up? Am I a choleric, a "D", or
an "SJ"? There are many different "systems" of temperament classification. There are even those that
compare a temperament to different animals. The three most common systems include the one used
here - choleric, sanguine, melancholy and phlegmatic, as well as the Meyers-Briggs Temperament
Indicator which uses sixteen combinations of traits and includes the Guardian, Artisan, Rational, and
idealist. The DiSC system is similar to the first system where the Decisive is the choleric, the
influencer is the Sanguine, the Steady is the phlegmatic and the Conscientious is the Melancholy.
M. Is my temperament my personality? Or the other way round? What's the difference? Temperament
is the canvas, personality is the painting. The temperament is the foundation, personality is the
building. Taking your basic temperament, you add life experience, culture, education, and upbringing
to form your personality.
N. How do the temperaments relate to a person's anger and fear? Everyone experiences fear and anger.
The phlegmatic experiences the most fear and the choleric the most anger. The melancholy fears being
out of control of situations and the Sanguine has quick, hot flashes of anger that pass as quickly as they
O. Do men and women's temperaments differ substantially? Temperament is temperament. There are
choleric men and choleric women. There are sanguine women and sanguine men. Gender is only one of
many environmental factors that influence behavior. Others include upbringing, culture, education, etc.
P. If I can't change my temperament, then what good is it to know about it? Understanding
temperament has many benefits such as understanding others better or being able to communicate more
easily with temperament types that are different from yours. But while you cannot change your
temperament type, all of us CAN change our behaviors. Knowing your temperamental weaknesses can
help you reduce their impact on your life. Knowing your temperamental strengths can help you release
them more into your everyday life. Feed your strengths and starve your weaknesses. Understand how
your temperament impacts other types of individuals and adapt accordingly.
Hal Warfield is a speaker, teacher and coach. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or read additional
self-development and business articles at www.halwarfield.com and www.introvert.cc. Hal is also VP
of Business Development at www.marketstrategy.cc where he specializes in business development
strategies for small businesses.