Getting Along with Almost Anybody


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by Marita Littauer

Hypatia Society

Have you noticed there are people out there who are different from you? Chances are you probably live with, work with or used to live with someone who responds to life differently than you do. These differences are what make us unique individuals and give us our own customized Personality. Our Personality is the filter, or colored glasses, through which we view life. It impacts nearly every aspect of our lives -- even the way we communicate.

My husband Chuck and I had been married about three years when how differently our Personalities caused us to communicate became quite clear. With our opposite Personalities, we even use a totally different vocabulary. My words are colorful even exciting, in the extreme, while Chuck employs the "need to know law." If you dont need to know it, he doesnt say it. One weekend morning I cooked Chuck a special breakfast. This was not just Pop Tarts and Tang. I went all out. I made fresh, homemade buttermilk pancakes -- not from a mix -- freshly ground coffee, bacon, and freshly squeezed orange juice. I served it in the dining room on the good china with coordinating linens. I set the extraordinary breakfast in front of him and he began to eat it. I asked him how his breakfast was and he answered . . . fine. FINE! I thought to myself. I make this great meal and all it is, is FINE!

Chuck was communicating to me out of his Personality and I was hearing him from mine. To those with personalities like mine, the word "fine" is not a compliment. However, Chuck sees things differently. Getting along with others can often hinge on how we understand each others personalities.

Chuck says, "You need to learn that for me, fine is as good as it ever gets." I believe that facing a life of "fine" is not worth living. But, to a Perfect Melancholy, "fine" IS as good as it ever gets. Like fine china, fine sterling, fine crystal . . . fine is as good as it gets!

For the two of us opposite Personalities to get along, we needed to learn to communicate for each other. Chuck has learned superlatives -- "terrific," "fabulous," "wonderful," "amazing!" If I have a new dress and I ask him how I look, he has learned that fine is not an acceptable answer! When I ask Chuck about something in his life and he says it is "fine," have I learned to say "great," and move onto the next subject.

Hippocrates noticed that people were different over 2000 years ago and gave specific designations based on their primary Personality traits and grouped them together into four different groups. Today, his original teaching has been added to and updated, but the original concepts have proven themselves over and over throughout the ages.

Hippocrates called the person who is the easiest to identify the Sanguine. Their loud speech, easy laugh and expressive body language made them easy to spot. The Sanguine person is the talker of life. A Sanguine can talk to anyone at any time, anywhere! We like to think of this person as the Popular Sanguine or the Popular Personality.

The next easiest to identify is the Melancholy, or the one we call the Perfect Personality. While the Popular Personality has an open mouth, an open life and open gestures, the Perfect Personality is the opposite. Her mouth is closed, speaking only when she really have something to contribute. Her life is closed, sharing little of her thoughts or feelings and then only with those to whom they are especially close. Her body language is closed, using few gestures as she speaks and then the gestures are often in short choppy motions. The Perfect Personality prefers to think, then speak, making them the thinker of life.

The third easiest to identify is the Choleric, the Powerful Personality. They are very busy people -- they are the workers in life. Their communication often consists of commands and orders with little time for chitchat. Their body language is made up of pointing, pounding and positioning. They are the Personality about whom the expression "get in your face" was created. They often wag their finger in your face as they talk -- face to face. Often when speaking to a Powerful Personality, you find yourself backing up. To which they respond by moving forward. Yes, the Powerful Personality is "in your face." They also use their fist for emphasis, pounding on a desk or wall, or even their other hand to make a point. They prefer to be in the control position, often with their hands on their hips as if to say, "Do what I say or get out of the way."

Sound like any one you know? Perhaps youve found yourself already. These first three Personalities are the easiest to identify. If none of them seems to fit so far, perhaps the next one will relate to you or someone in your life.

The Peaceful Phlegmatic is mentioned last, not be cause they are the least important, but because they are the hardest to identify quickly. They are the person who is steady and balanced, even and consistent. They do not have the extreme traits found in the other Personalities which makes the Peaceful Personality harder to identify, thus making the process of elimination a good approach. Their voice is usually softer, exuding a calming presence. They speak only when they have something of value to share and are hesitant to offer opinions. Their body language is relaxed. Rather than the wild flailing of the Popular Personality, the Peaceful uses little or no gestures. However, they can be identified by the fact that they prefer to lean on something while standing and recline as much as possible while sitting. They are the watchers in life.

Getting along with almost anybody is something we can all do, when we understand how we all react and respond to each other and let God do His job within us. Romans 12:18 says, "... as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."

Excerpted from "Getting Along With Almost Anybody" by Marita Littauer, President of CLASS Services, Inc. For more information, please call CLASS at 1-800-433-6633 or visit

The reluctance to put away childish things may be a requirement of genius. 
 ~Rebecca Pepper Sinkler