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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Clash of the Personality Titans, part I -- Calendars and Planning

After my exhaustive blog post about the four personality temperaments, I thought it would be fun to discuss the accompanying clashes that occur between different temperaments and the difficulties of teaching to various temperaments.

First, let me be clear that I am basically talking from my own personal experience. I am not trying to turn this entire discussion into a thesis or research project. The following discussion comes from my own personal observations in the workplace as an attorney, a university teacher, and a private teacher for the past 34 years or more. I find the discussion of temperaments to be amusing, but I also find it useful in many situations. Let's look a little closer at the personality styles as they relate to calendars and planning.

Sanguines tend to be unscheduled and spur of the moment. They seem uncomfortable using calendars, if they even own one. I recall during my attorney days that my firm frequently assigned a new attorney to visit with me about time management issues. My first question was for the new attorney to show me their preferred calendar method. Sanguines didn't have any, or if they used a calendar system, it was a colorful one with filings by projects rather than a time schedule. Phlegmatics didn't maintain calendars too well either, but that's because it was just too much work to write things down and then remember to look at the entries. A Phlegmatic found it easier to remember things by memory: who needs a calendar if you can remember things in your head? Sanguines felt more comfortable with a system that lent itself to creativity and spontaneity. Phlegmatics relied on their memory rather than on effort. Hopefully, a Phlegmatic's memory would be strong enough to accommodate little effort.

Cholerics didn't have a time management problem in general. They usually had master plans all worked out with calendars, spreadsheets, and time lines. Remember: Cholerics like action and progress, hence a plan to move forward. If the Cholerics had any weakness in the calendar area, it might be the inattention to detail or to following up on loose ends. Melancholies had detailed calendars too, sometimes to the extent of a calendar entry for every possible area of their life, and each one color coded by area and often indecipherable to the average onlooker. Remember: Melancholies like detail and lots of it. Sometimes it's more fun for a Melancholy to plan for contingencies than it is to actually take the first step. Cholerics are masters of the calendar and master plan. This is what they do best. Melancholies are good at this too, but they incorporate too much detail for other personality styles to appreciate. Sometimes the focus on details can bog down any movement toward action.

Which category do you fall into? Can you see the plus and minus of each personality? Can you understand now how there could be a need for all personality styles in the world? I think the perfect committee would be one that has a representative from each personality style. The Choleric would run the show and demand forward motion. The Choleric would ask for plans and action steps. The Melancholy would evaluate and analyze every possible facet of the issues and generate lists/charts/graphs about the action steps required and the possible consequences of each action taken. The Sanguine would come up with creative project topics, ideas, and solutions but would not give much attention to action planning or calendar timelines. The other committee members shouldn't rely on the Sanguine actually following through on any of the Sanguine's creative ideas. Like the Sanguine, the Phlegmatic wouldn't do much with regard to calendaring or planning, but the Phlegmatic would be the pleasant sounding board for ideas and concerns -- the glue that would hold the committee group together in a friendly fashion.

Next time I'll talk about the teaching and learning environment as they relate to personality styles. Please leave me a comment  or question, and be sure to vote in one of the polls in the sidebar.

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