The Four Temperaments

David Wertheim Aymes

The combination of the elements of earth, water, air and fire affect the temperament of each human being in a unique way, one element tends to dominate while another has hardly any influence at all.

I use this when considering people for positions. It is very real that people influence their environment. This influence does not usually come from their physical size or competence unless they are in a boxing ring for example. As flippant as this may appear, it is not. We underestimate the effect of our consciousness, or lack thereof, on our environment. Different temperaments influence things in different ways.

Temperaments can be overcome by an individual, but to the extent that they are not, it is important to recognise the effect of the temperament on the social level, and what to expect from the influence of different temperaments. Influence here is meant to describe the formative nature of the temperament on the way things start to manifest with that temperament present. For example, one should not place a Sanguine in charge of routine; neither should one assign a choleric to visit customers. Where there is need for detail and measurement, melancholics will naturally be good as they are very observant to detail, and care, even if it arises out of concern rather than freedom. Having too many of any one temperament together leads to the dominance of this temperament with the associated manifestation in the quality of interaction that the customer experiences. Too many phlegmatics together would lead to a contented bunch of staff that enjoys the environment, while product innovation might really suffer. Temperaments must be considered as one of the most important measurement tools when selecting staff or a team of people.

Cholerics (Fire)
Cholerics are usually physically strong, with short and thick legs, arms, and necks. Their fingers too will be short and thick. They will say the consonants strongly and will say abarakadabara rather as KArabaraDAbara with a very strong K to start with, and maybe even a sharp D to make sure that their word is carried right through to the end like a kind of second wind. They walk in straight lines with quick short steps that attack the ground with heels first.Socially they are loud and fearless. They take others head on with their opinions and are concerned about winning arguments. They tend to explode when others do not stand back for them and are only satisfied when they have been heard and when their word is the last. They are pioneers too. They take on impossible tasks, also without planning and forethought of possible consequences. They do not change their mind or direction easily. They do achieve tings though as a result. Real solid challenge to them is required if they are going to listen to another. A thwack on the side of the head with solid frying pan might suffice.

Sanguine (Air)
Sanguines are smaller people with thin skin that reveals defined muscle fibres beneath it. They are well proportioned and very agile, and often have real stamina. They carry little fat. They look around them in all directions to make sure that they are not missing anything. They would almost sing abarakadabara to a lilty sort of tune with different lengths of notes. Nothing can be consistent for a Sanguine. They walk with varied pace and on their toes and balls of their feet; they sort of skip if they can and will not walk in straight lines.They are the strategists with many different suggested solutions to any one problem. They are not too concerned about which suggestion of theirs you take up, or really if it works. What is important is that they get the chance to allow their minds to flit over things. They are not the people to ask to hold systems or rhythms together as they will get distracted.Sanguines eat lots of small portions of many different food types like the French do. They also partake socially in as many different groups and discussions as possible and ably so, but with little concern for the coherence of it all.

Melancholic (earth/mineral)
Melancholics are long and thin. Their heads look to the side or down as they gently negotiate a rough World full of risks. They have long bones with no fat and a skin that conceals what appears to be the minimum of muscle. They cannot really point accurately to anything as they are uncertain in themselves whether the other will believe them. They walk with their feet first just in case there is an obstruction that might catch them unaware. They cannot really complete the word abarakadabara as they start it tentatively and lose steam towards the end. The sound of the letters are drawn out and well considered as they come out.Melancholics are real thinkers and really need to understand the world in order that they can find certainty for themselves in the high risk game of life. They are really concerned about the wellbeing of others as they see when others get hurt and know better than anyone else how insensitive and harsh the world is and how we all need someone that sympathises. Socially, melancholics will be found listening to the woes and pains of others and endorsing the trials of life.

Phlegmatic (water)
Phlegmatics are round and comfortable with little muscle definition. They have fat hands and shoulders round with the curves of comfort. They love rhythm and certainty both of which are characteristic of the measured way they walk. They would say abarakadabara in equal length tones without too much variation in tone or pitch. If they were to point, they would slowly find the direction in a considered sort of way and they gently settle their arm in this direction without emphasis.Phlegmatics will finish a task allocated to them. They simply plod on because they were asked to do it, without ever considering retreating. They choose one very large plate of mash and gravy over the chance of variety. They plod expressionlessly through this too. They are quiet and sensitive but seldom show this. They tend to be real listeners but are either slow to respond or fail to respond, to another’s frustration.

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