Sunday, January 26, 2014

Comes In Like a Lion


Let's just cut to the chase.
The Choleric Personalities are the lions, the type A, the In Charge or Should Be in Charge. They are ambitious, passionate, and high-strung. The Choleric is always right, they know they are right, and everyone else has to know it, too.
And the maddening thing is, they pretty much ARE right, most of the time.

     If you happen to mention you had the flu....he or she will ask if you had your flu shot. : Don't go on about your symptoms, cough, or sniff, or look woe-be-gone; it only adds fuel to the fire. Basically - be alive, be dead, but don't be sick, sad, or anything in between.
     If you need directions, he will sigh and ask what happened to your map, then tell you the best possible way to get there. If you happen to get lost again, do not, I repeat DO NOT go back and ask again. It would be better to miss your transatlantic flight entirely, not show up for the speaking engagement, or leave your kids at the birthday party overnight.
     If you voice any concerns over how your children are behaving, she will explain precisely what it is you are doing wrong, give you 2 or 3 books on the subject, point exuberantly to her own cherubs, smile broadly and ask, "Now, what were you saying?"
     If you don't know what to do, ask a Choleric. They will be thrilled to tell you, no matter what stammering act of humility or bashfulness they may put on when first asked.


Now, you may think I'm being awfully harsh, but I'm simply getting the rough stuff out of the way first.
The Cholerics are also sorely needed in the world. Who is going to take charge at the accident scene? Who will chair the committee? Who will stand up and say what needs to be said when the time comes?
Who will tell you that yes, you do look fat in those jeans, because they are the wrong brand/cut/style/price/color, and here's an exercise program while we're at it....WoooOops!  off on a wee tangent there...back up....start again...
Who will be the President, the lead hand, the manager of the store, the commander of the army, the lawyer who wins the case? Who will lead the band? Who will be fine putting their neck on the line for the rights of the unborn or the mistreated? The no-holds-barred Choleric will!!

"Not me, please."

Not always, of course. Look at history - Napoleon was no-doubt of mostly choleric temperament, as was Alexander the Great, and others who battled, shot, fired, or clawed their way to the top. But what about Abraham Lincoln, William Wilberforce, or Winston Churchill? When leadership is either unapparent or undesired, the personality may be predominantly something else, but a current of Choleric is in there. When they are against the wall politically, morally, or even physically, they will not shrink back, but will lead the charge if necessary or say to the proverbial spade, "You, my friend, are a spade!"

For the Girls

Most people imagine a strong, powerful man when they think of the Choleric temperament. Women, however, have this personality just as often but often choose, or learn, to mask it. Hmm. Yes, indeedy.
        (Masking your personality is an entire matter on its own - books, volumes of books, tomes of books - could be written on how and why people hide behind a different face.)
An opinionated, powerful woman is not readily accepted by society, even today's society. The Choleric woman is sure to receive a truckload of criticism if she is true to her actual self. Unless she owns a navy business suit and a bright yellow Camaro....then, bring it. Or perhaps the phrase "The Honourable", before her name.

Margaret Thatcher aside, you can tell a woman or girl of choleric temperament because she is not afraid to tell you her opinion, and actually will look for opportunities to do so. You may come out of an hour-long debate about the State of Education Today dripping sweat, wrung out, and hung to dry, but she will feel invigorated, high, on top of the world! "Wasn't that a wonderful discussion we had! We should do this again soon", she beams at you. Blinking rapidly and sucking in great quantities of oxygen, you gasp, "Yes, yes of course! Wonderful!" and slink toward the nearest exit, vowing to stick to vapid tea party fare from now on, with perhaps the odd foray into weather.

The Choleric temperament actually enjoys conflict, to a point. You will often find them trying to pin down what someone actually thinks on a topic, and once they find out, Aha!! It's a bit like a fencing match. Sidestep, shuffle, sidestep, JAB!! Isn't this great fun?
Well it is, if you are also choleric. If not, it's a bit like a classical violinist walking mistakenly into a KISS concert, circa 1987. Cover ears, duck, and RUN AWAYYYYYYYY!!!!!

Pluses and Minuseses. es.

The strengths that go with this temperament are decisiveness, leadership, managerial skill, ability to delegate, and a knack for blazing new trails. Think, Rambo, but in a power suit.

What a Choleric may need to work on is a little thing called tact, a servant attitude, listening skills, and empathy.
And also tact.
Interpersonal relationships can sometimes be a tad shaky.
The Choleric parent may have to be careful not to break their child's spirit.
The Choleric boss may have a little problem called High Turnaround.
The Choleric child will have a mom with Dobson's The Strong-Willed Child under her pillow, and a box of Kleenex by the bed. Or perhaps a collection of wooden spoons in a drawer, all depending.

And Big Hearts

The thing with Cholerics is because they lead the charge so readily, others think they have a thick skin. In fact, Choleric personalities have just as many feelings, are just as sensitive, as everybody else. But they tend to get things thrown up in their face a lot. "Well, they dish it, so they better be able to take it", can be the assumption. 
Choleric types have probably the biggest hearts out there. They care deeply about others, but are often misunderstood. Over time, they can be hurt and scarred, and then perhaps comes the thick skin.
A perceived inability to relate becomes an actual inability to relate.
Cholerics may yell the loudest, but their hearts beat the strongest.

And if you love one, or you are one, remember that.
Also remember that people are people -- complex, textured, nuanced, with many colored threads woven through the fabric of their personalities and character.
{Oh, and personality does not equal character; the two are in fact very different kettles of fish.}

Not the Whole Story 

I am not trying here, in this elementary discussion, to pigeonhole Anyone. It would be ludicrous and downright criminal if I was. Just be yourself, your highly textured, nuanced self.
The point here is not to apply labels, but to think, to ponder, to understand in a richer way why we are the way we are, and to give others permission to act like themselves. I take offense less now, because I know the Cholerics in my life are not trying to put me down or run me over, they are most likely simply expressing themselves through their particular bent, or natural temperament. Not to sugarcoat everything, but it definitely helps to know where someone is coming from when they make impossible demands or tell you exactly what it is you're doing wrong. Takes the sting out of it. If you get where they are coming from, you just smile and roll your eyes to heaven. Very quietly, of course.

So, we've begun. Who shall we do next?

p.s. Full disclosure. About eight years ago I read the wonderful book Personality Plus by Florence Littauer. Many of my thoughts and ideas have been distilled from that book, and though I don't have it now, I'm betting some of my basic premises are close to hers. All credit where credit is due! Also I do a lot of people-watching. :)  sounds kinda creepy. :{

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