We are unique! Our behaviors respond in different ways. At work leaders may tell you to respond to anger with kindness.  Effective communication is often interpreted as kindness. Put down the mental shot gun of using feelings about the subject, current mood, and impressions to achieve this (Kahneman 2011). Begin with understanding one’s true nature.

We respond with harmony or discord. Understanding one’s personality and temperament helps develop healthy relationships. It enhances goal achievement. It enables you to respond to anger with kindness! If knowing one’s true nature sounds like a winning solution to you, below is personality and temperament descriptives.


A collective of an individual’s attitudes, behavioral patterns, emotional responses, social roles and other individual traits that are innate, predisposed and endure over a long period of time. We recharge one of two ways: as an extrovert or an introvert.


  • What: they gain their energy by being with other people, find it exhausting to be alone, need people to help them think through their problems, likes variety and action, wants to share ideas immediately
  • Triggers: no one to play or talk with; bore easily
  • Manage statements: “you like to talk things over when making a decision” or “you like talking to people and making friends” or “you get bored when no one is around”
  • Engage: group projects, new places
  • Teach: turn taking, listening, eye contact
  • Praise: “Wow – you were able to talk it out and come up with a solution.”
  • Freeing labels: big mouth to expressive, loud to can project, bossy to leader, nosy to caring


  • What: they need quiet, alone time, their own space, time for reflection, need time to come up with an answer, needs meaningful relationships, needs to watch before engaging
  • Triggers: too many people, too involved, too many high-energy activities and no time alone.
  • Manage statements: “dreaming is important to you” or “thinking is fun” or “it’s too hard when too many people are around you”
  • Engage: one on one; break-time if too many people; time with new skills alone
  • Praise: “wow – you felt you needed a break and you found a quiet place”
  • Freeing labels: nerd to dependable, bookworm to intelligent, shy to likes familiar people

Personality traits


  • What: tremendous stamina and energy, very creative, doesn’t like authority, seeks risks, impulsive, passionate
  • Motivators: fun, risks, new adventures, working with their hands
  • Manage statements: “you wish there weren’t so many rules” or “sitting for a long time is hard for you”
  • Engage: refrain from direct commands, enjoys heated power struggles, humor, compliance as a rule setter
  • Praise: “Thank you – this was lively and exciting”
  • Freeing labels: troublemakers to fun-loving, rabble-rousers to organizers


  • What: does or cares for others, obedient to rules, belongs to a group, likes familiar and order, intolerant
  • Motivators: appeal to their sense of proprietary, need to do the right thing
  • Manage statements: “you wish more people would listen” or “it’s hard for you to learn while other people are playing around”
  • Engage: give information, describe problems and use alternatives to no
  • Praise: “you were frustrated but you asked gently”
  • Freeing labels: boring to dependable, fearful to careful, favorite to agreeable


  • What: great communicator, loves to read, spiritual, needs to know the meaning of life, hates conflict, sensitive, high-strung, works from emotion
  • Motivator: they like unity, and like to teach, help, counsel, advise
  • Manage statements: “you feel things strongly” or “dreaming is important to you”
  • Engage: appeal to their need for harmony, humor engages them
  • Praise: “they were fighting and you helped them figure a solution”
  • Freeing labels: daydreamers to visionaries, shy to inner-directed,


  • What: vivid internal world, intellectual, philosophical, high achievers, holds true to beliefs not tradition or rules, unconcerned with external appearance
  • Motivator: always looking to gain knowledge
  • Manage statements: give information, describe the problem
  • Engage: no direct commands, reasoned rules
  • Praise: “I like your original opinions, I never thought about it in that way”
  • Freeing labels: brainy to smart, mean to logical



  • What: physiologically their bodies react more than those of others, experience more physical stress or emotions because their body produces more hormones that signal the flight or flight response; they play hard, noisy, laugh loudly, passionate and motivating
  • Triggers: intense reaction to change, disappointment, fatigue
  • Manage statements: name the sensations, identify triggers to intense reaction
  • Engage: reduce intensity with calming techniques, including exercise, repetitive jaw motion, deep breathing, music
  • Praise: “you were able to calm yourself” or “you feel passionately about things that are important to you”
  • Freeing roles: troublemaker to dramatic, loud to expressive, annoying to likes attention


  • What: refuses to cooperate and persists in doing what they want
  • Triggers: direct commands, told they can’t, inconsistent and unclear limits
  • Manage statements: “you like to make your own decisions” or “it’s hard for you to hear ‘no'”
  • Engage: avoid giving direct commands, always give choices
  • Praise: the ability to persist, the ability to compromise
  • Freeing roles: stubborn to determined, impossible to independent, fresh to justice seeker


  • What: heightened sense of smell, hearing, taste, sight and touch, they are saddened by bad news, selective eaters, extra clingy or anxious
  • Triggers: sounds, emotions, sight, taste, touch
  • Manage statements: “you feel things strongly” or “smells really bother you”
  • Engage: identify the trigger and find ways to reduce or eliminate them
  • Praise: “you saw her angry warning signal and chose to be compassionate”
  • Freeing roles: touchy to compassionate, thick-skinned to feels strongly

Perceptiveness or Distractibility

  • What: notice everything around them, seem to never listen, are spacey daydreamers, has trouble attending or finishing tasks, have a great sense of humor
  • Triggers: too many directions, unclear directions, no set routines, noise
  • Manage statements: name the feelings – “too many directions are confusing”
  • Engage: eye contact, one-word directions, don’t call from another room, change the environment
  • Praise: “you did that right away” or “you were organized and got that done”
  • Freeing roles: don’t do to can-do directions


  • What: change is difficult, they like routines and can stick to one task for a long period, well-organized planners
  • Triggers: being rushed, surprises, change of plans
  • Manage statements: “you like to be organized” or “you need to know what to expect”
  • Engage: allow extra time, establish routines, limit transitions
  • Praise: when they move through transitions
  • Freeing roles: stubborn to stable, impossible to likes routines, bullish to focused


  • What: they have poor natural body rhythms and cues, they are up all night, flexible and energetic
  • Triggers: not enough sleep, lack of routine, being forced to eat or sleep
  • Manage statements: “being forced upsets you” or “choices are important to you”
  • Engage: stick to a routine, don’t force them
  • Praise: comment on their flexibility and ability to adapt
  • Freeing roles: wild to energetic, impossible to independent


  • What: high and low energy levels, extreme action or none at all
  • Triggers: sitting for too long or not at all, athlete or no exercise
  • Manage statements: give them positive words to describe themselves
  • Engage: plan activities, limit sedentary or high-energy
  • Praise: when they control their energy
  • Freeing roles: wild to high energy, out-of-control to tired, lazy to calm

First Reaction

  • What: they think or watch before they act, first reaction is to push away
  • Triggers: new situations, being pushed before they are comfortable
  • Manage statements: “you like to check things out first” or “being pushed bothers you” or “you like to know what to expect”
  • Engage: encourage vs push, give ample warning to new experiences or people, encourage autonomy
  • Praise: “You figured out a way to be comfortable”
  • Freeing roles: stubborn to needs to warm up, anti-social to able to entertain them-selves


  • What: they think and feel deeply, they aren’t trying to put a damper on others, they are critical and pessimistic, they don’t overtly show their enthusiasm, they make good critical judgement
  • Triggers: fast-paced transitions, over stimulation, being told no too many times
  • Manage statements: “it’s important for you to seriously consider all the factors”
  • Engage: slow down the pace
  • Praise: “I really appreciate when you tell me what you like” or “that makes sense; it’s practical and realistic”
  • Freeing roles: party-pooper to realistic, Mr. Gloom and Doom to analytical mind
Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

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