Heart of the Matter: Dealing with Tough Relationships

November 22, 2013
Cynthia: This is Cynthia with Heart of the Matter radio, for women who seek the elegance of God’s wisdom. 
Evolution is a survival of the fittest. The mindset is I walk on you to get what I need. People are accidents of nature and it’s not the kind of mindset that would have dug all those people out on 9/11. Christianity, on the opposite side though, values people.
1 Corinthians 15:22 says “For as in Adam all die.” And in my parenthesis says it’s because of their sin. “So also in Christ all shall be made alive.” We can be made alive because Jesus died for our sins to pay the price. So that makes every person valuable, because he or she is worth the price of Jesus’ blood. 
As the holidays come, we will be with family. And sometimes family can be the hardest because you really care about those people, and yet they annoy the daylights out of you. Today I have Linda gilden with me and she has written a book called Personality Perspectives. And she is going to help us talk through some of those little issues that we run into over the holidays when we’re with those people that we really care about, but we get all hung up.
Welcome, Linda.
Linda: Hi, Cynthia. It’s so nice to be with you.
Cynthia: Basically you mention four different types of temperaments. One of them is choleric, he’s outgoing, he’s someone who loves to get things done, he loves to give orders. He is on the go and could be seen as a little bossy.
Then you have the sanguine, who is also outgoing. A sociable, fun-loving, pleasure-seeking person, but a little bit impulsive and forgetful and maybe even chronically late. 
Then you have the shy melancholy who is cautious, perfectionistic, conscientious and independent. Maybe someone who procrastinates because they’re overly cautious.
And then you have the phlegmatic who is very shy, relaxed, quiet, consistent, a faithful friend, but could be seen also as lazy and sluggish.
And we’re going to say that you are one of these personalities that’s choleric, that’s driven, and you want to get up in the morning and get your day going. And some of your relatives are the more laid back personalities like the phlegmatic. What is that going to do when you’re around your relatives?
Linda: That’s a really good question. And quite honestly, there was a time when I really didn’t understand all of our different personalities and how they worked. When I had the first taste of studying the personalities it was just an eye-opener because I was like oh man, I understand this person, this person. When I came home that day from the conference where I had learned this I went up to see my daughter and she was actually my drama queen. She always liked to see if she could get a reaction out of me, because I’m very melancholy or purposeful. There are lots of words you can use for all these personalities, but most of them are divided up into the four different categories.
But I went up that day to my daughter and I just looked at her, after I’d learned all this. I said guess what? I know why you act the way you do and we’re not going to have this trouble getting along anymore. And it wasn’t a perfect fix, but it sure did help things when we understood each other.
If the person who is the doer and always busy has a person come along who is just very laid back, and we call them peaceful people. Some people call them phlegmatic. There are all kind of words that you can use. But obviously these two personalities are not alike. And the doer wants to know why the person who is so laid back can’t get up and do something, and the person who’s so laid back it just makes them tired watching the doer do all that he or she is doing.
If we can understand that that’s our make-up, the person who gets up every morning and has a list and is ready to check it off and get everything done and knows how everything should be done and knows how you should be doing everything and is not afraid to tell you, seems like a very intense person. And very controlling, and control is part of that personality.
But we can get along. These two personalities can get along if the person who’s laid back understands that this person is so driven they can’t not do something. They’ve got to keep moving till they get their list checked off, and they know how everything should be so they don’t want to stop until it’s right. 
And then if that person would understand that this person who’s laid back is just not programmed to “do do do” all the time, they have got to have that space to relax and just be who they are. They enjoy just being. Is that totally confusing?
Cynthia: No, it’s not. I’m kind of wondering if that person who’s laid back, maybe they just enjoy doing nothing or maybe they enjoy people more.
Linda: They do enjoy people. And many people look at a peaceful, phlegmatic person and say oh well they’re just lazy. And that’s not really it at all. They do enjoy people. They enjoy thinking deeply. They enjoy kind of being a spectator as to what goes around them. But they are not interested in getting involved in what’s going on, usually, in a big way.
Cynthia: So how would that phlegmatic person then respond to someone who’s trying to gather the family to start opening presents, or maybe organize some music or something. Would they want to watch or would they just resist? What kind of things are they going to be thinking?
Linda: Well, if it’s a holiday situation, when we’re talking Thanksgiving or opening Christmas gifts or something like that, every personality’s got to give a little bit. And that person who is laid back and would rather sit on the couch while everybody else does their thing really needs to kind of get with the program and come be a part of the group for that time.
What happens, though, is that you might notice that this person comes and participates, and then at the very first opportunity, once it seems like the major hoopla is finished, they might slip back into the family room or back to another quieter part of the house just to recharge. 
Cynthia: So you’re saying that that phlegmatic person then is a very shy person.
Linda: They are usually shy. They do love people and they are very good group people, but they like to be usually with people that they know. 
The melancholy’s the same way. That personality also likes to be with people, but they’re very shy about actually instigating a relationship or getting in a group and just going around and introducing themselves and being the life of the party. They’re not good at that. And if they do that for long, then they’re going to have to do the same thing the phlegmatic person or the peaceful person is going to have to do. They’re going to have to withdraw and kind of recharge.
Cynthia: Because it wears them out.
Linda: It’s exhausting. And my personality is extremely melancholy, or purposeful, whatever words you want to use. For the purpose of our book we used purposeful for that personality. But I have found, particularly when I’m speaking or when I have to do something in a big group setting, I love it. And I can get in there and I can do it and I can do what I need to do and do it well. But when that event is over, or if I’m teaching a class and the class is over and I’ve interacted with the whole class of people, questions, and I love doing it. But at the end of that time I
am absolutely exhausted because I’m having to operate and use some of my weak points to operate in, rather than all of my strengths.
Cynthia: Right. I can see that, I can understand that. What if you have a relative that wants you to come over and do things at their house, but you can’t go in their kitchen and get anything. It’s just off limits, this is my kitchen don’t touch anything.
Linda: In that particular case I think you would have to understand that your relative is very controlling and probably very much a very powerful, choleric personality who knows the way they want things done. And if you’re willing to go over and help that’s great, but I think you need to arrive knowing that for whatever period of time you have arrived to help for, you’re going to follow orders. And you’re going to do whatever he or she tells you, to help, but no more. You’re not going to venture into the kitchen if that’s off-limits, or open drawers and try to help get out things out of drawers.
What you’ve got to do is know that that is their personality. And if you know your personality that helps a lot. For instance, if you were another powerful choleric personality you could really have a big clash go on here, pretty quickly, if you arrived to help and the recipient of the help knows how he or she wants it, but you’ve got ideas about how you can help. That’s probably not a great combination there. 
There are going to be clashes like that, probably, during the holidays, with two powerful cholerics. And most families have at least two. So what you need to do is before the crowd ever arrives, the whole family, know that Uncle Dan and your cousin Mary are both very strong, powerful, and they love to help. But they also love to be in charge. So when they come through the door you ask them to be in charge. Maybe Mary has several children and let her be in charge of the children’s games and give her something to be in charge of. 
And then Uncle Dan, he really likes to sit and talk with the guys. So maybe you can put him in charge of keeping the conversation going and get him to sort of bring up a couple of good subjects that the guys would like to talk about. 
If they have something to do, then they are not trying to jump in and be what some people would consider bossy, but it’s really just a personality that wants to make sure everything’s done right and has that list to check off. It’s not that they really say well, I’m going to be bossy and I’m going to be in charge of this party. That’s not it. But know that when they come through the door you need to give them something to do.
Cynthia: That’s a good idea. Okay, what if you’ve got a situation where there’s several families that have their own children, and the children get into an argument, and then other people from outside try to discipline somebody else’s children. That can really get to be a hot issue.
Linda: That is really a hot issue. And I think the answer to that is not really so much a personality issue. Although it could be. But I think that that particular issue can be solved by the adults talking with one another, and talking honestly with each other. I don’t think that’s something you want the children to be privy to that conversation.
But if your sister, sister-in-law, aunt, mother, anybody, speaks to your children in a way that you don’t think is appropriate or that you feel like you should have handled them, I think the parent of the child that was spoken to must speak up. And say I hear that interchange between you and my child. The next time would you please just come to me and let me handle it? I’d really like to handle that rather than my child be called down in front of the whole family.
Cynthia: That does sound good. What if you have someone who is a braggart? Who gets in there and talks about wonderful he or she is, and all these things they’re going to do, and then they never follow through.
Linda: Well, with that kind of person you just get to the point, it’s kind of like crying wolf I guess. You hear it so much and they never do it, you kind of get to where you’re numb to what they’re bragging about or what they say they’re going to do because you know that it’s never going to happen.
So I would think that the family would begin not to take this kind of person seriously. People who have a sanguine, or playful, personality, they love to talk. They love to be the center of attention. And sometimes they will just say whatever they need to say to keep the party going. If it’s a very sanguine, a very playful personality, it could be that it’s just their personality and it never occurred to them again, they never thought about that statement again. That they had said well, I’m going to do this, or I’m going to take you shopping later this afternoon, or I’m going to do this or that. They just didn’t even think about it again because it was in the course of the conversation, they were having a good time, they were catching up with their cousins they hadn’t seen in awhile or their parents, or whomever, and they just might not think again of that statement.
They’re just that way. And it is a personality issue for that.
Cynthia: How can you demonstrate love? Say, what two personalities are really opposite? The sanguine and maybe the choleric, the driving personality.
Linda: The personalities that are opposite, I think, would be your sanguine and your phlegmatic. Just because of the energy level. That’s part of it with them is the energy level. And then your choleric and your melancholies are pretty opposite as well.
Cynthia: Okay. So what if you have a choleric and a melancholy and the person that is a believer is the choleric, and they really want to demonstrate that they care about the other person but they end up getting so irritated with them and they’re just stuck. What can they do to say I know we’re different, but I care.
Because I think sometimes it happens in families is that you really care, but you can end up saying things, and to the point that you almost pass people, you miss them, even though you know the person or know the situation, you know that they both really care. But they just seem like they can’t hook up.
Linda: Sometimes there are people in our families that we just have trouble communicating with. And I think we can only do what we can do. And sometimes it means that we might withdraw from a conversation. You can’t quit being with family. It may be that there are people in your family because of personality differences or maybe even circumstances of years gone by that you just really have a hard time carrying on a good conversation.
And I think in that case you might have to just withdraw from spending the most of your time with that person. 
We need to make an effort. In Romans 12:18 it says if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Well, as far as it depends on you says a lot. Because sometimes we have to just step back, or be quiet when we would like to retort. We might have to go the extra mile and operate out in front of our strengths in our weak areas. I have to work hard even at family gatherings sometimes to be more chatty than I normally am, because I’m not a super chatty person. And if I don’t chat a lot somebody’s going to say to me. I guarantee they’ll say this, are you mad?
Well, I’m not mad. I’m just melancholy, purposeful, thoughtful. I sit there and process everything that
happens. So I need to remember to smile more. That’s one big thing I make myself remember to do, especially when we’re at family gatherings, because I’m not mad. I’m just processing, I’m just back out of the main flow of conversation because that’s just my personality.
Cynthia: There’s people out there who have to say everything they think, and so you hear them and there’s just this gush of words, and it kind of overwhelms me because I think of every word and I put it together like a puzzle. I’m so deliberate, usually, unless I’m caught by surprise. And so they kind of overwhelm me. It’s like I need some space here to be able to process all this.
When you get those kind of people together you may have a clash. Because one wants to be quiet and the other one won’t hush.
Linda: Right. And that’s the beauty of understanding our personalities, and understanding what makes us tick and what recharges us, what drags us down. I travel some and speak, and I also teach with a company called CLASSeminars, and we have roommates. And my roommate that I have a lot of times is extremely choleric. Very very very choleric. And I’m about as melancholy as you can get. So you’ve got your powerful choleric and you’ve got your purposeful melancholy.
And she learned very quickly that if she had a room full of people in there, for any reason, like in our room, there would be a point where I just would have had enough. She could see it on my face. I’ve just got to have a few minutes here with a little quiet so that I can recharge. And so she would take the party, or whatever, and move it on to the lobby of the hotel or to another room, and give me 15 minutes, 30 minutes to recharge, and then I was ready to join the party again.
That sounds very antisocial, but that doesn’t happen in an hour. This would happen in a number of hours that you’ve just got so drained. Does that make sense?
Cynthia: Yes, that makes sense.
Linda: It’s not like very hour that I talk to people I have to have 15 minutes of recharging. It’s not that at all. It’s that when you get into a situation where you’re, like a wedding reception or even a funeral and a family dinner afterwards, or speaking in a large group where you need to meet the people in the audience before you speak, then you speak, then people are talking to you afterwards. So the whole package there is exhausting if your personality is one that you need some recharging time.
After a whole evening of that you would probably need just to rest a little more than the other personalities.
Cynthia: You need to go in your cage. See, I’m kind of schizophrenic because I’m kind of half melancholy and I’m half choleric. 
Linda: That’s okay.
Cynthia: I can do. I run a writer’s conference and I can go for days. But then I’ve got to go in a cave for about three days and recharge because it really wears me out. And I can even be funny, I can even crack jokes that I wasn’t even aware, I just say things and people roll on the floor. But I need to rest after I’ve expended because my little melancholy says whoa, you’re out of gas. I understand both sides because I can do both.
Linda: Right. Most people are a blend. Most people are not totally one thing or the other.
Cynthia: Right. But I love the approach that you’re taking, because, like I said in the beginning, we’re kind of trying to reach out to people and understand that not everybody’s made like us. Because God had different people in different places, because if we were all workers then who would be friendly? And if everybody was friendly there’d be no one to get anything done. So there’s a mix of personalities because God needed that, and we get things done that way.
I love the verse in Hebrews that says “Consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” So that means that you try to think about that person. You sit down and you think about how you could love them and let them know that you care about them, despite your differences, and work with them. 
Christianity is gracious toward people, and I think we ought to put effort into that this Christmas as we go on the holidays, Thanksgiving. Think about these people that come into our lives. How can we show them that we love them? And minimize those hard times, and even say I’m sorry if you hurt them. Because you care.
I think your book could go a long way toward helping us, because you’ve thought through some of those issues for us.
Linda: Right. You know, I think living at peace with everyone is one part of it, that the verse in Romans said. I think stimulating people, like the verse in Hebrews, to be the best that they can be. And sometimes just a word of encouragement instead of a sharp word, when you really wanted to tell someone how to do something.
Instead of saying that, maybe give them a compliment. Or say something that would build them up and really bring them to a point where they have more self-confidence. I think God intended for us to do that for each other, just to build each other up and to love each other unconditionally. And that’s really hard to do for some personalities with other personalities.
Cynthia: Absolutely it’s hard. But it’s worth doing because they’re valuable.
Linda: Oh, absolutely. For sure.
Cynthia: Linda, where can we find you?
Linda: I have a website, that’s www.lindagilden.com and you can find my books on Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble, or some of the local Christian bookstores in my area have them. I don’t know if they have them all over the country, but they’re available and certainly can be easily ordered either from my website or from Amazon.
Cynthia: I want to thank you for your hard work in writing this book, and for just chatting with some of these difficult problems that we’re going to face. And just want to say thank you and a big blessing to you for the holidays.
Linda: Thank you so much. Same to you, Cynthia.
Linda Gilden

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