Can you easily name that friend in your circle who often dominates the conversation in a group setting? Is she the one who initiates the plans for everyone? If you answered yes, you might have a choleric friend, and you should consider yourself lucky.
Dating back more than two millenniums, the concept of temperament types describes four distinct personalities: melancholic (idealistic and analytical), phlegmatic (calm and easygoing), sanguine (enthusiastic and social), and choleric (quick-thinking and determined). Temperaments are not the whole of our personality but are, more specifically, the aspect related to behavior and reaction. The four temperaments reveal what makes each of us tick—an insight that’s particularly helpful in relating to others and even making new friends.
“We are each born with a natural temperament, which is the sum of our natural preferences; it shapes our thoughts, ideas, impressions, and the way we tend to react to our environment and other people,” write Art and Laraine Bennett in The Temperament God Gave You, a helpful guide which explains how temperaments surface in our relationships and even in our work. (You can take their quiz here to discover your own temperament combination.)
Many people associate choleric traits with those of the classic “type A.” The headstrong choleric thrives when she’s in charge. Her reactions are quick and intense. Cholerics are usually extroverts (which only means that their energy comes externally, from socializing and activity); however, they can have more introverted tendencies, as well.
If you are a choleric or know someone who is, you know a choleric can sometimes make friendship a challenge. Things like empathy, listening, patience, and humility, don’t always come naturally to the choleric temperament. The choleric’s fervent nature can be one of her greatest assets, but it can also get her into trouble. Cholerics tend to challenge others, not necessarily for the sake of arguing but to flesh out ideas. While this methodical thought process makes cholerics excellent problem-solvers, the choleric may be too quick to debate potential friends. “She can be argumentative, critical, fault-finding, difficult to please, and overly intense. This can drive potential friends away, if she is not careful to tone down the intensity,” says Laraine.
But, let’s not get carried away with what makes friendship so hard for cholerics. The truth is, there are three aspects of a choleric temperament that make friendships with them all the better.
01. She initiates.
The choleric knows the secret to kindling any new relationship: she takes initiative. In this way, a choleric's assertive nature can really play to her advantage when making new friends. It goes without saying, but in any budding friendship, someone has to reach out first. The choleric tends to be this person—much to the relief those who are more reserved.
Cholerics are confident when approaching others; they spark conversations with ease. Cholerics tend to be social and sharp, a combination that serves them well when relating to someone new. For example, people joke that my choleric cousin could talk to a wall; she draws on a number of experiences to keep conversations interesting. It may take some probing, but cholerics will find something worth talking about.
Cholerics take a direct approach in conversations and relationships. For one, this means that they tend to cut to the chase: “no small talk, no fun-loving anecdotes, no easy-going hanging out,” Laraine says. Cholerics are not as warm as sanguines, at least not at first, but that doesn’t mean they are uninterested. In fact, when meeting new people, the choleric may skip the small talk to find out what really interests someone—and then make plans to do it.
02. She’s a planner.
With her competitive nature and contagious charisma, the choleric is a natural leader. She’s fierce, leaping into new opportunities without fear of falling. When she sets her mind on something, the self-motivated choleric sees it through. She’s decisive and driven. Ever on the go, she’s one who, even on vacation, sticks to a schedule and proves to be productive.
Cholerics usually have no qualms about making tentative plans with someone right after meeting him or her. It can take guts to show an interest in friendship and make the first move, but others will appreciate this. Because they are persistent, cholerics will pursue friendships by making plans and, just as important, showing up. Cholerics make committed, intentional friends.
As friendship develops, the choleric will continue to orchestrate get-togethers. Planning comes naturally to her, as she thrives when she’s in charge. If you have a choleric friend, know that she’s more than happy to sort out the details of the party she’s planning. If you’re a choleric, continue to take initiative. When life gets hectic and your social life gets put on the back burner, you will likely be the one who actually plans something, compared to others who will talk up an idea without taking action. Just remember to seek out the opinions of your less assertive friends, opening the door for them to suggest ideas for social gatherings, too.
03. She’s enthusiastic.
“The choleric’s enthusiasm and energy will attract others,” the Bennett’s write in their book. Given their go-getter enthusiasm, cholerics rarely slow down; they readily delve into new ideas, new projects, and new friendships. Their high energy will stimulate others, too. You can count on your choleric friend to initiate fun, action-oriented adventures. Whether it’s wine tasting, rock-climbing, or politics, the choleric will gladly share her passions with you.
She may be self-reliant, but the choleric makes a steadfast friend. She’s not only analytical and astute—reading between the lines to get at what you’re really saying—but also pragmatic. She’s able to turn any trouble into a solution. It’s no wonder she’s the friend you call when you need to work through your most daunting problems. Up-front and honest, she’s not one to sugarcoat the truth, nor does she hesitate to ask tough questions. She’ll challenge you, whether or not you ask for it. And she’s always right (even when she’s not). She’s stubborn, to be sure, yet you have to admire her shining confidence.
All in all, the choleric’s dynamic personality keeps her friendships fresh and exciting. Her enthusiasm draws out more reserved personalities, as her confidence, energy, and knack for taking the lead will help her make and keep friends.
Photo Credit: Catherine Taylor Photography