Communicate on the Same Wavelength



Choleric – definition, temperament and challenges in communication

“In fact, no one can overcome their temperament. It will always determine their conduct.” Alfred Kubin

Who is a choleric?

The theory of temperaments by Hippocrates and Galen assumes that there are four juices flowing through the human body. On the basis of whichever juice there is the most of, the corresponding type of human temperament was determined.

Choleric (gr. chole – yellow) is ambitious and self-confident, likes challenges and does not tolerate failure well. They are characterized by violent emotional reactions and a short temper. They can be stubborn and overbearing, but also independent and self-reliant. They care more about achieving their goals than about interpersonal relationships. This evokes respect. That is why choleric people often become managers or project leaders.

Jung’s typology of personality

The aforementioned typology of Hippocrates and Galen still functions in colloquial speech. On its foundation, many other classifications were created. The most popular is the one proposed by C. G. Jung. He distinguished two main types of personalities: introverts and extroverts.

  • Extroverts – open-minded people, usually very active and sociable. They like to be the center of attention and share many common traits with cholerics.
  • Introverts – centered within themselves. They avoid excess stimuli and appreciate calmness.

Jung also observed the existence of opposing personality traits: perception and intuition; and thinking and feeling. This allowed him to derive another 16 personality types. They differ in their tendency to analyze, in the way they act and express their feelings, and even in their curiosity about the world. This is important information especially if you are reviewing job applicants.

What do scientifically-recognised diagnostic tests say about choleric people?

The MBTI test, which was developed on the basis of Jung’s theory, is popular and widely used. In the research community however, its credibility is somewhat of a controversial topic. Critics point out that Jungian concepts are not fully formed and even contradict original temperaments (Furhnam, 1996). Studies that have used the MBTI have not always supported the theory and validity of the test’s measurements.

At the same time, a lot of attention has been paid to the links between the MBTI and the five-factor model of personality, called the Big Five or OCEAN (from Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism). The credibility and reliability of the latter has been confirmed many times over and most recently in 2020 (Satow, 2021).

An analysis of the relationships between the OCEAN and MBTI tests have indicated that as many as four of the five Big Five factors were strongly associated with some of the MBTI preferences (Furnham & Crump, 2003).

For example openness to new experiences (Openness): 

  • Is strongly correlated with intuition
  • Is moderately correlated with perception and extraversion
  • Is mildly correlated with feeling

This is also an important dimension in the case of choleric people – they scored higher than people with other temperaments. Cholerics often lead lives rich in emotions and do not shy away from new activities and ideas (Soloukdar, 2013). Other studies show that cholerics score high in extraversion and neuroticism, and low in agreeableness (Sava, 2011).

It’s not easy to communicate with a choleric. However, it can be learned.

We all know employees who easily get into conflicts and react angrily to any failures. At the same time, thanks to their intense emotional reactions or leadership skills, they often captivate crowds.

According to the Hippocratic typology, such a person would be a choleric but according to Jung, an extrovert. Using the Big Five dimensions, we would describe such a person as neurotic or extroverted, open to new experiences, and at the same time quite unagreeable.

Regardless of which theory we rely on, we can easily imagine that they are not easy to deal with, even despite positive and largely desirable qualifications. Many leaders have no idea how to communicate effectively with such a team member. As a result, they sometimes even avoid confrontation, which is far from a good solution.

Empatyzer – based on the scientifically proven IPIP test in the Polish adaptation – gives practical advice on what to do and what to avoid in communication with particular employees, taking into account specific characteristics related to their temperament. It will also help other team members to get along with cholerics.




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