We all tend to be curious about what makes us the person we are, or to coin a phrase, what makes us tick. Why we think the way we do, why we make decisions and communicate in a particular way, why we use particular behaviours and find some things easier than others. Our curiosity doesn’t stop there either as we then turn our attention to how others behave, especially those who behave differently to us.
This curiosity is not new, and neither is the study of human behaviour, which goes back over 2,500 years. The first person to be documented as studying human behaviour was Hippocrates.
Hippocrates was a doctor and a philosopher and the first person accredited with studying human behaviour. Up until the time that he came along, it was felt that we behaved in a particular way due to the influence of the gods, who when we were born, looked upon us and decided what type of person we were going to be.
Hippocrates disagreed with this. He had studied people that had come into his medical practice with a similar ailment however realised that they behaved in different ways. He termed these different behaviours ‘temperaments’ and identified four temperaments.
These four types of behaviours were associated with humors or bodily fluids that determined the way in which someone behaved. Sanguine, with an excess of blood was seen as optimistic and leader-like. The Choleric, with an excess of yellow bile, was seen as bad-tempered or irritable. The Melancholic, with an excess of black bile, was seen as analytical and quiet, and the Phlegmatic, with an excess of phlegm was seen as relaxed and peaceful.
Medical practitioners believed the work of Hippocrates and said that if you behaved normally, you were at ease with yourself. However if you behaved in one of the four extremes, they said you had a dis-ease, hence the modern day word disease. They would then try to do something to alleviate your symptoms. Blood-letting for the Sanguines, a mild poison for the Cholerics to get them to wretch up the yellow bile. For the Melancholics, trepanning (drilling through your head), as they thought the black bile made your brain swell and finally, a cough medicine for the Phlegmatics!!
Fortunately for us, a man called Carl Gustav Jung was born in1875. Jung undertook his own studies of human behaviour and recognised that we are all different based on psychological attitudes and functions. The attitude or the way in which we get our energy is know as introversion and extraversion. The two functions are thinking and feeling and sensing and intuition. It is the unique combination and strength of these that make us the unique individuals we are.
Jung’s work has been developed by many others including Myers-Briggs and Insights, an organisation that I have been a licensed practitioner with for well over 15 years. They use the psychology of Jung, however overlay it with a wonderful colour-model of human behaviour. Whilst the psychology under-pinning it is deep and complex, the colour model make it easy to understand, accessible to all, long-lasting and a colourful language of human behaviour that can be used effectively both in work and home, as it is about you and how you behave and also how others behave.
When I facilitate workshops with teams or speak at conferences, I start of by giving people a set of four coloured cards with different adjectives on. I then ask them to be honest with themselves and to put the cards in order, based on how strong they relate to the different adjectives.
I often ask them to turn over the cards and look at the potentially negative aspects of each of the four colour behavioural energies as a double-check that they have got theirs in the right order from them.
Give it a try yourself and let me know what order you have put yours in.
For those who are curious to know, my order is the same as that shown in the images above, I lead with Sunshine Yellow, my secondary is Earth Green, my tertiary is Fiery Red and my least is Cool Blue.
In future articles, I will explain in more detail what happens next.
Yours Behaviourally, Nick