Personalities & Communication

Learn to talk so people hear what you’re saying!

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”

The key to knowing how to get along with people is knowing how to communicate with them.  Nothing is more frustrating than being misunderstood.  This month I want to address one of the most important topics on the planet; communication.

If you have been receiving this newsletter for long, you are aware that your personality affects nearly every aspect of your life.  In terms of how we communicate, consider this:

If I speak English and you speak French we are going to have trouble communicating until we each make the effort to learn the other’s language.  Or, we are going to spend a lot of money hiring an interpreter.  In the same way, if I speak the choleric/sanguine personality language and you are phlegmatic/melancholy, we are going to have trouble communicating unless we learn to speak each other’s language.  Or, we might spend a lot of money hiring a therapist or divorce lawyer.

Today I would like to share with you some practical tips on how to communicate better.  There will always be misunderstandings.  There will always be break downs in communication.  You cannot change how someone else communicates.  But, you can change how you approach others and in return, you will find that others will try to match your level of communicating.  You can work to minimize the problems and experience the relief, joy and productivity that comes with knowing you are heard.

In order to make this simple, let’s sort through the main how-to’s very directly by personality type.

Popular/Playful Sanguine – The Talker

If you are popular sanguine, limit your words and quit being so loud.  We talk too much and we talk in a loud tone.  It’s overwhelming to those who are not sanguine.  So, only say half of what comes to your mind to say.  Don’t finish a story that has been interrupted unless you are asked to finish it.  (Which, I’ll warn you, will never happen.) Practice saying only what is vital.  Listen intently for and use the other person’s name.  Stop dominating every conversation drawing the attention to yourself.  Invite others into conversations by asking them what they think or if they share your experience.  Practice listening and not interrupting.  Apologize when you interrupt and then be quiet.  Wait to speak until asked.  (I know, that one is tough!)

If you are communicating TO popular or playful sanguine, understand their personality language.  Tell stories, not gossip.  Sanguines do not keep secrets well.  Give colorful details.  The word “fine” is not okay.  Be more creative in your descriptions.  Use adjectives such as terrific, fabulous, fantastic, and amazing instead.  Give them attention and approval for their very being.  Accept their disconnected content and offer them a compliment.  Don’t tune out; rather, pay attention to what they are saying.  Give them deadlines and frequent reminders about tasks you are expecting them to complete in a timely manner or appointments they are meant to keep.  Learn to appreciate their fun and carefree communication style.

Perfect/Proper Melancholy – The Thinker

If you are perfect or proper melancholy, focus on thinking and speaking positively.  If you are communicating with people who do not share your personality type, limit the details.  Other personality types find numerous details overwhelming and honestly — boring.  Watch for opportunities to build up others by celebrating their small victories.  Adjust your expectations.  You must come to terms with the fact that there is no perfection on this earth.  Receive compliments graciously.  Do not point out the flaws when it is not absolutely necessary.  Practice giving praise and making positive observations rather than criticisms.  Add appropriate humor when you can or at minimum, smile.

If you are communicating TO perfect or proper melancholy be sure now is a good time to talk.  Do not interrupt their schedule, activities or communication.  Respect their time, space, silence and schedule.  Do not be nosy or pry for information you don’t really need.  Give factual, orderly details.  Save chit-chat for the sanguines in your life.  Laugh and cry with the melancholy.  Do not try to jolly them up.  Prepare your thoughts before you speak with them.  Know what you will say.  Learn to appreciate their structured and respectful communication style.

Powerful Choleric – The Doer

If you are powerful choleric, relax.  I know this hurts, but in most situations we are not as important as we’d like to think.  Other people are quite capable without us.  Our intensity scares people.  Stop making demands and start requesting desired actions.  Practice saying “please” and “thank you.”  Good manners are not a waste of time or a given.  You need to practice proper manners like everyone else.  Be careful of your tone.  Often you sound much more harsh than you intend and it is highly offensive.  When you sense you have been offensive, say you are sorry and mean it.  Show that you mean it, by changing your tone and allowing the other person to share their feelings.  Focus your interest and attention on the person, not the project.  Try to be still.  Do not pace or leave when someone is trying to talk to you. Slow down and actively listen without cutting them off.  Do not finish other people’s sentences or stories.  Read the rest of the letter or document.  Broaden your areas of interest.  And remember, just because you can, does not mean you should.

If you are communicating to powerful choleric, hurry up already.  Cholerics believe they are the busiest.  So, keep communication short and to the point.  Give the choleric the bottom line first in the form of sound bites.  This allows them room to jump in — and they will.  Only offer details and supporting information if asked or if it is critical.  Accept their curtness.  Cholerics are never trying to be rude; they are just very project focused.  Give them appreciation for their achievements and credit for their hard work and solid ideas.  Learn to admire their quick decision making ability and limitless energy.

Peaceful Phlegmatic – The Watcher

If you are peaceful phlegmatic we want to hear from you!  Practice expressing your opinion.  Make decisions and try to present choices.  Speak truth in love.  Think through presentations or formal speaking opportunities in advance.  Do not try to “wing it.”  Do not hesitate to share your ideas.  Practice speaking up in volume and content.  Show enthusiasm with body language and facial expression.  Often, you are misunderstood or dismissed because others interpret your casualness as apathy.  It is up to you to make us believe and perceive that you do care.

If you are communicating to peaceful phlegmatic show respect.  Look for the positive and freely give praise.  Give a few choices rather than an open ended question.  Learn to say, “I appreciate you because _______________ (attribute).”  Give the phlegmatic focused, not distracted, attention.  Wait to speak until they are completely finished.  Be patient.  Do not make them feel run over or ignored.  Learn to appreciate their listening ear and calming presence.

These communication how to’s will transform relationships because they work to meet the emotional needs of each person.  People do not listen to you or care about how much you know until they feel that you care about them as an individual.  Start communicating with this perspective, adjusting your approach to speak their language and things will improve.  I guarantee it!

In case you need a refresher, here are the basic emotional needs of each personality:

Sanguine  (yellow) : Attention from all, Affection (touching), Approval of every deed, Acceptance “as is”

Melancholy (blue) : Sensitivity to their feelings, Understanding, Space to be alone, Silence (no people)

Choleric (red) : Loyalty, Sense of Control, Appreciation for all their hard work, Accomplishment

Phlegmatic (green) : Peace and quiet, Feelings of Worth, Lack of Stress, Respect for who they are, not what they do