What Are the Four Temperaments?

Imagine for a minute if we had a proven way to help you better understand yourself, your natural strengths, and why you do what you do.

This is what Four Temperaments is all about. The word temperament refers to the blending of natural traits or tendencies with which a person is born and is a part of one’s personality. Temperament is also a need which drives and motivates people to act according to their natural tendencies.

Think about it this way: your temperament is the way you are most of the time, in most situations, most of your life.

The idea that a person’s behavior is in-born has been around for at least 2,400 years. The father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, was one of the pioneers who noticed key differences in people’s behavior. Other historical figures followed in this pursuit of understanding temperament and have validated that the four temperaments are real and very important in the life of every individual.

Historically, there are four temperaments that represent distinctively different behavior in a person: Choleric, Sanguine, Phlegmatic, and Melancholy.

The Choleric

The Choleric person is extroverted, driven to get results, and will not give in to the pressure of what others think unless they cannot get quick results. They are slow to build relationships and tend to have only a few close friends because results are more important than people. The Choleric does not easily empathize with the feelings of others or show compassion. They think big and seek positions of authority. The Choleric tends to not be angry although their assertive push to get results may be interpreted as such.

The Sanguine

Sanguines are very different from Cholerics. People with a Sanguine temperament are naturally people-oriented and do not need a reason to be with other people. The Sanguine is extroverted, fun-loving, playful, activity-prone, impulsive, entertaining, persuasive, easily amused, and optimistic.

The Sanguine typically builds relationships quickly. They get so involved in conversations that they easily forget about time so they are often late arriving at their destination. The Sanguine is easily bored if not involved in social activity. The Sanguine dislikes solitude. Their attention span is based on whether or not they are interested in the person or event. And they can change their focus or interest in an instant if they become bored.

The Phlegmatic

If you know someone who is naturally service-oriented and passive in both favorable and unfavorable environments, then you’ve met a Phlegmatic. They influence their environment by cooperating with others to carry out the task. They tend to not be highly ambitious and they tend to lack a sense of urgency.

The Phlegmatic is introverted, calm, unemotional, easygoing, indecisive, patient, and agreeable. They are both slow and indirect when responding to others. Although the Phlegmatic is usually slow to warm up, they are accommodating in the process. Also, they are by far the easiest people with whom to get along — as long as you do not try to alter their routine or ask them to change.

The Melancholy

The Melancholy naturally wants to do things right and is quality-oriented. They are not trying to be right, they are driven to figure out what is right. They have an initial cautious, tentative response to reduce tension in an unfavorable environment.

The Melancholy’s second response is often to become assertive to restore peace in an unfavorable situation. They influence their environment by adhering to
the existing rules and by doing things right according to predetermined (and accepted) standards. Melancholies are detailed-oriented, operate from a plan, and they are usually very private. They are introverted, logical, analytical, and factual in communication. They need information, time alone to think, and a detailed plan in order to function effectively without anxiety.

In our MyTemperamentTMAssessment, we help you discover your temperament and your natural tendencies and strengths, uniqueness, and how you are wired.

You will receive a customized report of your specific temperament blend, how it is expressed, your preferred environments, and practical guidance to help you succeed at work and in life.

Everyone Has All Four Temperaments

What’s important to understand is that no one is only one temperament. Everyone has traits of all four temperaments. However, not all four are present with equal influence.

Each person has a primary temperament and a secondary temperament, along with a third and fourth temperament.

When we look at the combination of the first and second temperament in a person, we can identify their specific behavioral pattern. As an example, a Sanguine-Melancholy is referred to as the Performer; a Melancholy-Phlegmatic is referred to as the Analyst; a Melancholy-Choleric is referred to as the Instructor.

You can find out more about the different temperament patterns here: Choleric combinations, Sanguine combinations, Phlegmatic combinations, and Melancholy combinations.

To further elaborate, every person is a “blend” of all four temperaments. You may be a Choleric-Melancholy-Sanguine-Phlegmatic. Or perhaps a Sanguine-Choleric-Phlegmatic-Melancholy. It’s intriguing and eye-opening to discover your temperament blend and who you really are, rather than relying only on what you’ve learned to become or where you’re experienced.

Your Natural Strengths

As you discover your temperament combination and blend, you will see there are natural strengths that you have and also natural weaknesses. It’s very liberating to know these because it helps you to operate in your natural strengths and not force yourself into behaving like someone you are not.

To illustrate, if you are a Sanguine-Phlegmatic (the Relater), you desire to be around people some of the time but then you need periods of rest, away from interaction with others. With this behavioral pattern, if you try to force yourself to be around people all the time, you will become weary and irritable.

Conversely, if you are a Sanguine-Choleric (the Negotiator), you will want to be with people all of the time. If you don’t get enough time with people, you may feel rejected or like you’re not influencing others.

It’s also important to pay attention to your fourth (last) temperament because it reveals traits that are least present in your personality. It’s liberating to be the real you and not try to act in a way that is contrary to your primary and secondary temperaments.

People who understand their temperament blend (i.e., first temperament + second temperament + third temperament + fourth temperament) typically enjoy themselves at a greater level because they understand their strengths, core needs, and who they truly are. As a result, they usually live a more fulfilling life.

Discovering the True You

When you discover your temperament, you’ll better understand yourself, that you are normal, and why you do what you do. As a result, you are better positioned to achieve your goals in life, both personally and professionally.

If you would like to discover your temperament blend, you can take our quick 15-minute MyTemperament Test and get a very insightful, customized report emailed to you today. In this report, you’ll see your top strengths, core needs, preferred environments, and much more. Start your journey today of better understanding your strengths!