As we have addressed in previous blog posts, The Personalities are a valuable tool for understanding yourself and getting along with others. They are, however, vital within family relationships.

The Personalities in Family Relationships

Within a work or social setting, removing oneself from a difficult relationship can be done fairly easily. You can quit and find a new job. You can put distance between yourself and a friendship that is no longer working. But terminating a relationship within a family can have high social and economic costs. Those costs frequently cause someone to remain in the relationship—despite the distress that may be present.

Because The Personalities are easily understood and can be quickly applied, they can often provide almost instant relief—even when only one person is actively working to apply the knowledge. And this makes The Personalities especially important in family relationships.

Opposites Attract

In a perfect world, couples would enter the relationship equipped with the advantage The Personalities offer—especially since we are naturally attracted to someone whose Personality is the opposite of ours. Ideally, with opposite strengths, a couple brings a full complement of skills to the relationship. One partner may be loud while the other is quiet. One may be highly social, while the other prefers stay-at-home, low-key activities, etc.

We are typically attracted to the person’s opposite strengths but then find ourselves living with the opposite weaknesses. For example, when dating, a Perfect Melancholy (Blue) finds the Popular Sanguine’s (Yellow) free-spirited approach to be refreshing. After living with him or her day-after-day, the Yellow’s inability to be on time and keep things tidy becomes a major irritant. In reverse, the Yellow finds the Blue to be tedious and nit-picky.

Even if only one partner is applying the knowledge of The Personalities, and cares enough to step out of what is his or her natural traits and consciously works to give the partner what is needed, almost overnight changes can take place. Because the Popular Sanguine is the natural people pleaser, he or she is often the one to embrace this knowledge and put it into action. Using the above scenario, by understanding that timeliness is especially important to the Blue Personality, not just that he or she is being fussy, the Yellow can make a determined effort to watch the clock and be on time when interacting with the Blue partner. Assuming the Blue is a decent human being who does love and care for the Yellow partner, he/she will respond positively to the removal of a known irritant.

The impact of the “Golden Rule”

Add to that, the fact that most adults were raised with the “Golden Rule”—which tells us to “do unto others as we’d have them do unto us,” and we naturally, give our opposite partner what we want rather than what he or she needs. This is why the understanding of the emotional needs is so valuable. Without this knowledge, we not only do not give our partner what he/she needs, we actually subconsciously withhold what is needed.

Princess Diana and Prince Charles

When speaking on the topic, I like to use the case-study of Princess Diana and Prince Charles. With just a rudimentary knowledge of The Personalities, it is easy to identify Diana as the Popular Sanguine who loved the spotlight while Charles was more the staid, background Perfect Melancholy.

She needed attention and approval, he needed sensitivity and space. Assuming you understand The Personalities, what would she have to be/do to get his approval? When I ask this of an audience, toward the end of my presentation, they shout back: “Perfect!” Everyone then acknowledges that she will never be perfect enough to get his approval. He needs her to be sensitive to his concerns and moods. He wants her to sit down and care about him. Without this understanding, she gets frustrated that he doesn’t want to go out and play as she does. Ultimately she goes off and does her own thing—finding that approval elsewhere (which may be in the arms of another man). At the same time, not only is she not meeting his needs, she is subconsciously withholding what he needs: caring sensitivity.

When Charles and Diana were in the headlines, and he left her for Camilla, people were shocked. Diana sparkled and Camilla didn’t. Yet, Camilla likely listened to him. While this is a bit of an oversimplification, it illustrates why understanding The Personalities is especially important in family relationships.

Parents and Children

We don’t have time here to address the similar concerns that come into play with children, but you can likely see where parents and children with different Personalities and, therefore, different needs, are going to have issues if they do not effectively understand one another.

More information on applying The Personalities in a family setting can be found in my book Wired That Way where there is a chapter on marriage and another chapter on parenting. For a more in-depth treatment of the subject, please read my mother’s books Personality Plus for Couples and/or Personality Plus for Parents.