Introverts, Extroverts and the 4 Personalities

By Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor and Certified Life Coach

“Why did you do that?” asked Molly, a busy mother of three kids to her youngest and loudest child. “I don’t know” was the only reply, leaving Molly feeling really frustrated and helpless about what to do to figure out how to effectively parent her little boy.

What about you, have you ever wondered why the people around you do some of the things they do? Well if you do you are not alone because parents and pastors, scientists and doctors have been studying human personality for thousands of years to figure out how to respond to some of the seemingly odd things people do.

If you want to solve conflicts at home or work then you need to take time to map out the personalities around you. Personality is important to understand because it allows you to rapidly and intelligently respond to the continual situations that pop up in marriage or family relationships. If you want more peace and fewer power struggles then get your legal pad out as we work together to map out the personalities around you.

“I was Born that Way- so deal with it”

A common reaction that people use to justify their inappropriate behavior is that they were born that way, which is partially true. People really are born a certain way, designed by God for a purpose. We know the majority of your personality is already there when you are born, and the remainder of personality development comes from early childhood or school experiences. That’s why you will sometimes notice that a son or daughter may act or look remarkably like an uncle they have never even met. DNA makes us that way, but the good news is that we don’t have to stay that way! God made us all different, which can really be irritating to some, but remember, it is for His greater purposes. The key is to figure out why the people around you do the things they do so you know how to respond to achieve a greater result, and not be frustrated in the process.

The study of personality types, (or what authors Tim LaHaye and Florence Littauer call “Temperments”) isn’t new, because Hippocrates, a Greek physician was the first to track 4 specific personalities hundreds of years before the time of Christ. He noticed that there were distinct differences in people, and through the centuries many other researcher have noticed the same. Here are some common elements to keep in mind as you begin to map out the personality of the people around you.

Introverts are the most common type of personality. These individuals are not necessarily shy, but they do prefer quiet. Introverts are energized by calm and peaceful settings, being out in nature, enjoying the environment, soothing music or entertainment and the company of a few close friends or pets. They get their emotional batteries charged through these type of experiences and are drained by large crowds and loud events, which is why they like to have space and not be crowed. When an introvert is under stress they tend to hold their emotions inside until they literally erupt with tears or anger and then when the flood of emotions pass they hate that they lost control of themselves.

Extroverted personalities are not as common, but they make up for it with volume. As you begin to map out the people in your life it’s not hard to spot these folks. They fill up a room with their oversized personalities. They are energized by loud events and lengthy experiences because they seem to never get enough and don’t want the day to end. Concerts, sports, parades, big cities, New Year parties, trade shows, theme parks, seminars; it doesn’t matter, because the louder and more crowded the better! Remember, they pull energy from the environment around them, (which exhausts the introverts who probably were coaxed into going with them). Their emotional batteries are charged up by these loud experiences and can go on and on like the Energizer Bunny™ seemingly for days without sleep when doing something they enjoy. You usually don’t have to guess about what they are thinking, because they sometimes impulsively just ‘tell it like it is’, which can hurt feelings of sensitive personalities, while giving them relief to have dumped their emotions out for others to deal with.

The four most common personality traits that Hippocrates noticed are listed for you to begin to map out your family members, coworkers and friends. And here’s a tip. If you take time to map out your own personality it’s a lot easier to spot traits in others, as well as know how to respond. Plus, there are the corresponding letters listed from the DiSC personality assessment, which is used in a lot of business and educational settings for your comparison in mapping out why the people around you do the things they do.

The 2 Extroverted Personality Types

The Choleric, (or high D on the DiSC) is a task oriented individual who prefers to be out front leading. This high energy individual is driven, ambitious, and usually goal oriented toward the things that are important to them. This personality group like to lead and motivate others to accomplish their goals and can sometimes overpower others or step on their feelings. Leaders in politics, the military and business are often from this group, which is the smallest percentage of the 4 types, but by far the most aggressive. On a negative note, Choleric personalities can become easily angry or moody when things don’t go their way and aren’t afraid to create a conflict to get people moving toward the goals. In the Bible the Apostle Paul is most like the powerful Choleric personality.

The Sanguine, (or high I on the DiSC), is a people oriented person who loves to have a good time, sometimes at the expense of others. They fill up a room as the loudest of the two extroverted personalities and are often great verbal communicators, which is why they love to be on stage entertaining others. Sanguine personalities love to meet new people, but often forget their names the moment they meet them! Leaders in entertainment, comedy, media, drama, ministry, public speaking and music are often from this group. Rarely on time, the Sanguine personality can be impulsive, unmotivated and can come across as egotistical and self-absorbed but usually don’t really mean to hurt the feelings of others. They are just so busy in their world that they forget there are 7 billion other people on the planet too. In the Bible the Apostle Peter is most like the popular Sanguine personality.

The 2 Introverted Personality Types

The Phlegmatic, (or high S on the DiSC), is a people oriented person who likes to work at their own pace and not be pressured. They absolutely hate conflict and will do just about anything to get along with others. This is by far the largest personality group, since over half of people you meet are likely to be oriented as a Phlegmatic. They may have great ideas, but are sometimes too shy or embarrassed to step out and voice them, much to the frustration of the people who can see past their lack of confidence to spot their real potential. This group likes to have a few close family or friends and like to spend all of their time with the people they already know, so they don’t venture out very far to make new acquaintances. This is why the loss of a friend from a move or breakup can be so devastating to a Phlegmatic because they aren’t usually comfortable going out to meet strangers. They are stable and likeable people who can have great success in management, administration, nursing or education. The most loyal of the 4 personalities, they are also the most sensitive. They are gentle and compassionate individuals with big hearts which allow them to quickly spot the needs of others, but can easily get their own feelings hurt because of this overly sensitive side. They don’t like change and love to keep life predictable; which is why they work so hard to keep things stable in their family, school or work situation. The Biblical patriarch Abraham who was called “the friend of God” is a great example of a peaceful Phlegmatic personality.

The Melancholic, (or high C on the DiSC), is a task oriented personality who can be organized and overly conscious of details which is why they are considered by many to be perfectionistic; but only at the things which are important to them. They are often the most creative of the 4 personality types, both in the arts or in solving complex problems. This personality type is likely to be so quiet that they don’t reach out to make a lot of friends, but can be gentle and compassionate when you take time to get to know them. They think far more than talk, so when they voice their opinion they usually have a lot to say. That’s why you need to listen carefully to Melancholic’s since they may go back into what some people call their introverted ‘cave’ because they often would prefer to spend time with their own thoughts than spending time with others. They can be moody from suppressing so many emotions, which can come across as depressive, sullen, temperamental or critical. There are many careers where this personality can excel, because many authors, musicians, accountants, scientists and researchers have this trait. Perfect Melancholic’s are always driven to do things right so it is no wonder that the best example from the Bible is the great leader Moses who penned the ten commandments.

More to mapping out Personality
Remember, personality is a basic element inside each person, but there are also many factors to consider when mapping out the best approach to respond and achieve better results at home or at work. Birth-order, age, gender, family background, life experiences and education can heavily influence our behavior. If you want to explore this in greater detail, there are many books to guide your steps and here are a few to get you started:

Personality Plus- by Florence Littauer

Discovering your child design- by Ralph Mattson & Thom Black

Raising Children on Purpose- by Wesley H. Fleming

The Two Sides of Love- by Gary Smalley and John Trent

Plus, one of my daughter’s favorite children’s books called “The Treasure Tree” illustrates discovering personality for kids. It was written by my friends Gary Smalley & John Trent to help kids understand their unique design and includes a simple personality profile that corresponds to the characters in the book. Here’s a copy to use as you discover your own personality, or the person you are mapping to better understand.

Dr. Gary Smalley and Dr. John Trent's Rapid Personality Inventory

To balance our love with others, we’ve got to understand what particular personality strengths can push us toward either extreme. We’ve provided a short test that can help you recognize and value another person’s strengths as well as your own.

In the personal strength survey, circle a few simple words describing yourself. Then, with that information, we’ll show you specifically what your unique strengths are and why they make you such a valuable person in all your relationships.

To complete the instrument, just read through the four categories below (L, B, O, and G), and circle each word or phrase that seems to describe a consistent character trait of yours. Next, add up the number of words and phrases you circled in each category. Then double your score to come up with a total in each section.

L (Choleric)
Likes Authority, Confident, Firm, Enjoys Challenges, Problem Solver, Bold, Goal Driven, Strong-Willed, Self-Reliant, Persistent, Takes Charge, Determined, Enterprising, Competitive, Productive, Purposeful, Adventurous, Independent, Controlling, Action-Oriented

"Let's do it now!" Double the number Circled _____

O (Sanguine)
Enthusiastic, Visionary, Energetic, Promoter, Mixes Easily, Fun-Loving, Spontaneous, Creative, New Ideas, Optimistic, Infectious Laughter, Takes Risks, Motivator, Very Verbal, Friendly, Enjoys Popularity, Likes Variety, Enjoys Change, Group Oriented, Initiator, Inspirational

"Trust me! It'll work out!" Double the number Circled _____

G (Phlegmatic)
Sensitive Feelings, Calm, Non-Demanding, Avoids Confrontations, Enjoys Routine, Warm and elational, Adaptable, Thoughtful, Patient, Good Listener, Loyal, Even-Keeled, Gives In, Indecisive, Dislikes Change, Dry Humor, Sympathetic, Nurturing, Tolerant, Peace-Maker

"Let's keep things the way they are." Double the number Circled _____

B (Melancholic)
Enjoys Instruction, Consistent, Reserved, Practical, Factual, Perfectionist, Detailed, Inquisitive, Persistent, Sensitive, Accurate, Controlled, Predictable, Orderly, Conscientious, Discerning, Analytical, Precise, Scheduled, Deliberate

"How was it done in the past?" Double the number Circled _____

You’ve taken the test, but what does it all mean? The four letters at the top of each section stand for the four basic personality types, which we’ve chosen to picture by using animals: Lions, Beavers, Otters, and Golden Retrievers.

Scoring high on the L line are those we call LIONS. Lions are take charge leaders. They’re usually the bosses at work, or at least think they are! They’re decisive, bottom line folks who are doers, not watchers or listeners. They love to solve problems. Unfortunately, however, if the lions don’t learn to use both sides of love, their natural hard-side bent can cause problems with others.

Scoring high on the B line are those we call BEAVERS. Beavers have a strong need to do things right and by the book. In fact, they’re the kind who actually read the instruction manuals. They like maps, charts, and organization. And they’re great at providing quality control for a home or office. Because rules, consistency and high standards are so important to beavers, they often communicate the hard side of love to others just like the lion. Beavers have deep feelings for those they love. But learning to balance the two sides of love usually involves adding the ability to communicate that softness and warmth in a way that’s felt and clearly understood by others.

Scoring high on the O line are those we call OTTERS. Otters are excitable, fun-seeking, cheerleader types who love to yak, yak, yak. They’re great at motivating others and need to be in an environment where they get to talk and have a vote on major decisions. Otter’s outgoing nature makes them great networkers – they usually know people who know people who know people. The only problem is they usually don’t know everyone’s name. They can be very soft and encouraging with others (unless under pressure, when they tend to use their verbal skills to attack). But because of their strong desire to be liked, they can often fail to be hard on problems and cause further ones.

Scoring high on the G line are the GOLDEN RETRIEVERS. These people are just like their counter-parts in nature. If you could pick one word to describe them it would be loyalty. They’re so loyal, in fact, that they can absorb the most emotional pain and punishment in relationships and still stay committed. Golden retrievers are great listeners, empathizers and warm encouragers – all strong, soft side skills. But they tend to be such pleasers that they can have great difficulty in adding the hard side of love when it’s needed

Encouragement about Personality Mapping
God made each person for a special purpose, and when you discover your basic personality, you also can wisely map out so many major decisions in life, including the type of relationships, schools, churches or companies where you can most easily succeed. Personality helps determine the kind of hobbies, vacations and entertainment that you will most easily connect to. In short, life is easier when you know your personality and conflict is greatly reduced. If you want to know more, visit the websites of authors like John Trent, Gary Smalley or Florence Littauer or contact a counselor who specializes in personality testing to discover the dynamics that drive you and the people around you to do the things you do.

Reprint Permission- If this article helped you, you are invited to share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2009), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach and Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change.

Popular posts from this blog

Understanding Schizotypal Personality Disorder

The Ultimate Networkers Checklist