Monday, November 2, 2009

Four Ways of Understanding People

Human Behavior has already been mapped out. The challenge to everyone is how to put it to good use.

"This guy is born to annoy me," said one of my colleagues in the office. He just couldn't stand the behavior of someone whom he thought to be too loud-mouthed and attention-seeking. The rest of us think the other guy is great because he's good in breaking the ice (I admit sometimes he overdid it, but you get the picture).

We think people are complicated. At the end of the day, people's personalities fall under one or two of only four categories.
Photo Credit: "In Spire Wind" by √Čole Wind

We don't understand other people ourselves, right? I mean, it used to make me go nuts trying to understand someone who sits down in a conversation and never talks! He just listens and smiles, never making an opinion, never siding on any debate, and just calmly stares at us who calmly do the "work" of analyzing how a great basketball player could have possibly missed that one important shoot (the discussion was over bottles of beer, of course).

Books and seminars later told me that each one of us is made of some kind of temperament or personality that dictates that how we behave. It was exciting to know that this has already been mapped out as follows:
  1. Choleric - the "bossy" type
  2. Analysts - self-explanatory
  3. Sanguine - the "party goers"
  4. Phlegmatic - the "peace makers"

A book entitled "Personality Plus" explains these personalities in great detail, complete with tests and diagrams. It is exciting to take the tests. I suggest you take the tests several times over a long period.

Many of the biases between people is a direct result of the differences among personalities. Understanding personalities does not eliminate the differences. But it helps us refine our responses to these differences in a more positive way.

Phlegmatic John for instance always got intimidated by his choleric work mate. While he wanted to do things in a more relaxed manner, his workmate Rex was always on the move and ordered him around.

Understanding their personality differences made John realize that there was nothing to be mad about the situation. In fact, he saw himself as someone in the best position to help Rex calm down after work.

There is more to be learned about the dynamics among personalities. It's an exciting journey.

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