Chances are good you have a colleague or two who fit one of these descriptions.
The Attention Magnet: They bring levity to team meetings with their stories and antics… but struggle to step out of the spotlight when (a half hour later) it’s time to get down to business.
The Decisive Driver: They can instantly conjure plans and make decisions (and are somehow always right)… but will steamroll over anyone who doesn’t speak up as fast as they do.
The Problem Spotter: They’re brilliant at noticing mistakes and pointing out potential obstacles… but seldom balance the scales by sharing any good, light-hearted news.
The Kind Procrastinator: They’ll remember it’s your dog’s birthday or that your kid was sick last week… but will forget to submit their lunch order by the deadline because they couldn’t decide between a sandwich or salad.
What’s shaping the way your colleagues show up at work?
In no small measure, it’s their temperament.
Temperament is your wiring—what you’re naturally predisposed to. Like your eye color or fingerprint, it’s innate and unchangeable. The idea of temperament dates back thousands of years to philosophers you probably learned about in school (then promptly forgot), but the classifications they coined are still relevant today (and thankfully, much easier to remember).
Here’s a quick snapshot of the four temperaments.
- YELLOWS (Sanguines) are optimists and storytellers who are often so enthusiastic about what they’re going to say that they unwittingly exaggerate or interrupt others.
- REDS (Cholerics) are visionary leaders who communicate and operate efficiently. They’ll often skip or limit small talk in favor of cutting to the chase and getting on with the work.
- BLUES (Melancholics) are problem-solving perfectionists who focus on saying what’s true and are willing to voice doubts and criticisms when they have them.
- GREENS (Phlegmatics) are calm operators who are so deliberate and thoughtful that they can be daunted by even minor decisions.
You can see how these four temperaments map to the office personas we started with.
Your temperament really is that influential (and sometimes that obvious). It shapes so much of how you show up as a colleague—the way you walk into meetings, the speed with which you tackle tasks, the attitude you offer others—yet most of us are unaware of it!
So are you curious what your temperament might be? Wondering about a teammate or boss?
You can take the 40-question “What’s My Temperament?” assessment here and get a personalized results report that will teach you all the basics. Or take a deeper dive into the entire four temperaments framework in the newly published second edition of I Said This, You Heard That.
If you already know your temperament (or at least have a pretty good guess), tell us: how does it show up at work?