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As I talk with women at conferences around the country, I'm continually amazed at how many of their deepest heartaches--especially in their marriage and family life--are rooted in misunderstandings and temperament conflicts. When I explain the temperaments, and especially the basic motivations and emotional needs of each, suddenly the light bulbs go on. "Wow, if only I'd realized that's how he was wired!" or "So you mean he's not really trying to drive me nuts, that's just the way he is?" I wrote this book because I was determined to provide them--and you--with some practical solutions for the home front and beyond.
Here's how A Woman's Guide to Personality Types will help you:
Let's pretend you've packed up your little cherubs in the minivan and trekked on over to the local park. While you're there, you meet each of the temperament types.
As you pull into the parking lot, you hear loud, uproarious laughter floating through the air. You notice a woman with long flowing hair standing in the middle of a group. You also notice, even from a distance, that she's wearing a boldly colored outfit and great big dangly earrings. You couldn't not notice this woman if you tried. She demands attention. She is obviously talking a hundred miles a minute, and she's punctuating her delivery with wild, sweeping gestures. When you walk over to join the group, you realize this woman is not just talking, she's telling stories. If any story doesn't get the reaction she had hoped for, she immediately launches into a retelling of the very same story.
When she gets bored (you know, when anyone else starts talking), she dashes off and swings on the swings for a while, then strikes up a conversation with an old man on a nearby bench. For lunch, she breaks out a bag of McDonald's she picked up on the way to the park.
You've just met the Popular woman.
Although she's much quieter, you can't help noticing a strikingly attractive mom stylishly dressed in a freshly ironed outfit, complete with coordinating accessories. Her neatly manicured fingernails are tinted the same color as her lips. When you comment on her clothes, her face glows as she reports (in great detail) how she found them on the clearance rack of a fashionable store for 75 percent off. When she speaks, her voice is quiet and she uses very few gestures. In fact, she holds her arms close to her body. Her short, sleek hairstyle accentuates her facial features, which are carefully highlighted with just the right touch of makeup.
Throughout the afternoon, she keeps a careful watch over her perfectly dressed children. (Their outfits are ironed, too!) Her kids aren't allowed to play on the monkey bars, though, because she read an article last Tuesday in Ladies Home Journal that said monkey bars are the leading cause of playground accidents. When lunch rolls around, she unpacks nutritious sandwiches cut into perfect triangles, wrapped in plastic, then aluminum foil for extra safety.
You've just encountered the Perfect woman.
There's another mom sitting at a picnic table, working on what appears to be a very important project. Although she doesn't talk much, you get the feeling she's not shy, just preoccupied. From time to time, she gets up to organize an activity for the kids. Much to your surprise, she even disciplines your kids (with her hands on her hips and her pointing finger in their faces) for climbing an old apple tree. When she tells her own kids to come over for lunch, she speaks with authority, and the little tykes immediately come running. During lunch, she brings up the hot debate over the local school board referendum and lets everyone know just where she stands on the issue. It's not so much what she says as it is the authoritative tone in which she says it that lets you know this woman means business. Of course, the fact that she's carrying a cell phone will probably be your second clue!
You've witnessed the Powerful woman in action.
And finally, there's a very quiet woman who has laid out a picnic blanket. In fact, she has laid out two blankets, in case someone else needs a place to sit. She has brought along cold drinks and enough snacks to share with everyone. Although she doesn't talk about topics in great detail (and definitely doesn't venture an opinion during the discussion on the referendum), from time to time she'll speak up to offer food or drinks to the other women and children.
Speaking of children, you can't help noticing that her kids are almost always sitting on her lap. Even when they do venture off, she keeps them within eyesight. She may have brought along some of her older children, whom she homeschools. Although she and her kids are very sweet, you can't help noticing that their clothes are somewhat disheveled, and their grooming leaves something to be desired. When she sends one of her kids to retrieve something from their minivan, you notice it could use a trip to the car wash.
You've had an encounter with the Peaceful woman.
When I speak at women's conferences, one of the most popular features is "The Purse-onalities." That's when I go out into the audience and dig through women's purses to illustrate their personalities. Naturally, this exercise is an especially big hit with the women whose purse contents are not held up for all to see! I'm convinced you really can tell a woman's personality just by looking at her purse.
The Popular purse is huge, often more like a tote bag than a handbag. It might be cloth or plastic. Of course, you may spot a Popular woman carrying a cute little purse...but I guarantee there's a tote bag in the backseat of her car. They like fun purses with bright colors or animal prints. At a recent conference in California, one woman carried a huge clear tote bag containing a cheetah print makeup case and a camera. The camera is not to take pictures of other people; it's so other people can take pictures of her. In another Popular purse, I found a package of multicolored felt-tip markers and a key chain filled with self-descriptions like "diva" and "hotty." I pointed out that even if no one else told her how cute she was on any given day, her key chain did.
In contrast, the Perfect purse is small, top-quality leather, and features lots of compartments. The Perfect woman has a purse with a place for everything so she can keep everything in its place. I've seen Perfect purses that are smaller than the makeup case in most Popular women's purses. Just as she communicates on a "need-to-know" basis, she packs her purse on a "need-to-have" basis. And, of course, she cleans it out every night for what she describes as "obvious reasons."
The Powerful purse is often more like a briefcase. The Powerful woman's got her Palm Pilot or Day-Timer to help juggle her many projects and her trusty cell phone so she can boss her family around, even when she's not home! One woman in Florida had the ultimate Powerful purse: a soft leather attaché case with her company ID clipped on the outside and file folders bursting out the side. I'm sure some audience members think I "plant" these purses!
My favorite purse, however, belongs to the Peaceful woman. That's because it's more than a purse: it's a ministry tool. She sets out in the morning and goes forth into a hurting world, looking for those she can comfort. She has tissues in case anyone breaks down and cries. She carries enough medicine to qualify as a walking first-aid station. Throat lozenges for those with sore throats and aspirin for those with headaches. One woman carried Midol, even though she was in menopause by her own admission! Did you fall down? She's got Band-Aids and Neosporin. Of course, she always has plenty of hand sanitizer, because she knows if anyone gets sick, she's the one who'll play Florence Nightingale. Break a nail? No problem, she's got a file. Bad breath? She's got breath mints. Falling apart at the seams? She's got a sewing kit. I've been known to spend five minutes going through Peaceful purses. Sometimes I can't believe they pay me to have this much fun!
In terms of understanding both you and the people around you, one of the most powerful tools at your disposal is understanding the underlying motivation behind each temperament's behavior. Understanding your own motivations will enable you to be more realistic. In other words, is it realistic to think life will always be fun or perfect or under control or easy? Of course not! Recognizing that will enable you to adjust your expectations and keep your frustration level to a minimum.
As you'll see in a moment, virtually everyone you meet is motivated by a desire for life to be either fun, perfect, under control, or easy. That's a bit simplistic, but as you work through this book--and evaluate whether or not the principles hold up in the real world--I think you'll discover that human motivations are often surprisingly simple. Once you understand their primary motivation, you can deal with people on their terms, which will make them far more inclined to respond favorably to you. Let's look at each temperament in turn:
We'll come back to these issues again and again throughout the book, providing you with a more careful look at how these motivations play out in our own hearts, in our marriages, and in dealing with our children. For now, you've had your quick introduction to the four temperament types. You're ready to learn all you can about yourself and the people around you. Happy reading!
A Woman's Guide to Personality Types
Copyright © 2001, Donna Partow
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.