On ‘TEMPERAMENTS’ By Mercy Karumba

Do we ever pause to judge ourselves and ask,” Why do I behave the way that I do? ”Or do we instead, look at someone...


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Do we ever pause to judge ourselves and ask,” Why do I behave the way that I do? ”Or do we instead, look at someone else and wonder why he/she behaves the way that they do? Well, apart from character and background influences, there is something well termed as ‘temperament’.

A person’s temperament is neither taught nor genetic. It’s one of those things that someone is just born with. There are four main temperaments: Sanguine, Melancholic, Phlegmatic and Choleric. While we all belong in one of the main temperaments, we possess some attributes of any of the other three, and hence we can say that one has one primary temperament and a secondary temperament.

Are we ever amazed when someone enters a room and people cannot help but notice them? People at work whose absence is often noticed? Is your spouse always the one entertaining your guests and s/he is the most talkative and very graphic in their storytelling? Are they the life and soul of the party and always get their energy from engaging actively with people? Well, that’s clearly a Sanguine. Sometimes we term people as too hyper, and especially if we are the ‘closed-up’  type, and in some cases, they end up being judged a lot, especially because they cannot go unnoticed.

Then there are those of us who love not only our personal space but a well-organized personal space. Have you engaged someone who seems very critical and analytical? That colleague who is known to be the ‘think-tank’ of your department as they always come up with these creative ideas. They always seem well-organized in their presentations and reports, but they are quite silent and don’t engage much and would never get noticed. Do you or your spouse sometimes get all gloomy and moody and you don’t understand why? Now that’s a Melancholic. People with Melanchonic traits are at times judged as too proud and anti-social, which may not actually be the case.

Do we attend conferences or school where some people are always leading projects and discussions? This person will not shy away from taking up the leadership role despite being new to the situation/people. Is your mum/dad very authoritative and their mantra is, “it’s either my way or the highway?” i.e they have the final say! Do we have spouses and even colleagues who love delegating and being in charge? Do we know people who, even from their walking style, emit their authoritative sense? These are the Cholerics. Sometimes Cholerics are judged as too bossy and authoritative or always wanting their way, which once again may not be the case, they may just not be aware that they are doing this.

Then there are these people who are just calm and taking life easy. Do we see people who are never worried about deadlines or the normal cares of life that make many of us so anxious? Do we have friends who are spontaneous and don’t mind random ‘plots’ or plans? People who just get along with almost everyone and they don’t seem to perturbed by anything? Is your spouse the kind of person who sometimes you feel like you carry all the worries alone because no matter how stressful the situation is, they don’t seem to get stressed at all? Now that’s a Phlegmatic temperament. Phlegmatics take life so easy and may at times be accused of not caring as they should, just because they remain calm and don’t show it in their faces.

Which of the temperaments are you? How different do you handle things compared to those around you? No temperament is superior to the other, as each one of them has its strengths and weaknesses. We just need to identify our temperament and work on our weaknesses, as we embrace the diversity of the other person. There is beauty in diversity. Don’t you agree?  To get a male perspective on this, check out Mitch’s post HERE

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