Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. That’s the golden rule for getting along we’ve been taught since childhood. And it’s a good rule to follow; treat others the way you want them to treat you in return. Here’s a news flash though, not everyone wants to be treated like you or I want to be treated. Everyone wants to to have their basic needs for food, shelter and safety met, but that’s where the similarities end. Some people would rather friendship then respect. Some would prefer being loved over being heard. To get along with everybody and anybody, it helps to know what motivates them.

How do we know what motivates someone if we don’t know them well? Understanding their personality will provide the clues. For a deeper look at  personality types go to this article on Personalities Types


Coaches (or Cholerics) are powerful, leadership people. They are goal orientated, independent, and forceful. They are usually the ones running the show and the rest us are meekly doing as we’ve been commanded. As a boss, Coaches don’t think about how they make others feel – they have an objective and they’re going for it, alone if need be. Getting along with a Coach-type boss or partner means accepting this need to achieve and supporting it. Don’t give ultimatums, give choices. They are motivated by being in charge so respect their needs and make them part of any decision making process.

A true, full Coach personality is highly intelligent. They make good leaders because they have the capacity to quickly grasp a situation, comprehend all the implications, and then formulate both a plan of action and a contingency  plan. Don’t waste this asset! Nothing would make them happier than to be handed an impossible problem, an unreasonable deadline and limited resources and then be told to go fix it. Above all, treat them with respect.

Similar tactics work with Coach children. With their strong independent streak (often  referred to as being just plain stubborn), these kids need a strong, but fair, disciplinarian in their lives. Laying down the law to them isn’t going to cut it, giving them a hand in making the rules will go a lot farther in getting their cooperation. They may gripe and complain, but they will respect them. They also respect parents and teachers who stick to their word and are honest and straightforward with them. They don’t need to be coddled, their self esteem is already pretty good. Make them a partner, give them responsibilities to be in charge of, and they will shine.

Team Players

A Coach personality may need respect and control above all, but Team Players (also known as Phlegmatic) is motivated by harmony – feeling like everything is going smoothly and everyone is getting along. Confrontation will cause him to shut down. They don’t overtly try to control situations with heated argument or brilliantly constructed logical arguments, they control by not doing anything.  If his is pushed and cajoled, yelled at and threatened, a Team Player will not get angry, he’ll just stiffen his internal resolve and go about his own business. Despite their easy going nature, Team Players have a core of steel. Their convictions are deeply held and not easily changed. The more flexible Cheerleader will happily go along with change, a Team Player won’t say anything, but he won’t go, either.

Everyone loves a Team Player type boss. They forgive easily, don’t get stressed if expectations aren’t met, and smile indulgently at other’s mistakes. Getting their cooperation means a low key approach and, above all, give them time. A Team Player does not make decisions under pressure. If a decision is needed immediately, he will decide not to decide and let things remain as they are. Cleverly crafted, persuasive sales pitches do not work on Team Players. If he is a  spouse and sees that something is very important to his wife, he may let her have her way without comment.  But that does not mean he made up his mind, he chose to not make a decision and lets the chips fall where they may.

Team Player children are pretty easy compared to others. They will do as they are told, simply to avoid being yelled at. They are so sensitive to anger, any words spoken in criticism or disagreement, whether voices are raised or not, is considered being “yelled” at. One such boy was told by his teacher to sit down in his seat while she was speaking and he complied, but said “I’m sitting on the outside, but I’m standing on the inside.” Don’t for a moment think that just because they didn’t disagree, that means they agree. They don’t have the strong Coach need to be in control by making the decisions, but they do need time to think things through. When leaving a party, for example, saying “we’ll be leaving in 10 minutes, as soon as the cake is eaten” will be accepted and obeyed. To say “we’re leaving right now, hurry up and get your coat” is likely to result in deliberate dawdling.


Managers (Melancholy type) love to be right, even if he is right about predicting a tragic event. He would rather be right than be loved.  Managers are very intelligent, like Coaches, and uses that ability to conjure up every possible negative disaster that might befall any project or event. As a boss, that means he has an incredible skill at foreseeing and avoiding trouble. The Manager is  proud of his un-emotional approach to life. He believes he is not swayed by fluctuating emotions, he considers every move fully and logically. Being on the slow side of the personalitites, that means he does not make decisions quickly.

Since being right is his motivating force, getting along with a Manager boss requires providing them with a lot of supporting documentation and irrefutable logic when making a request. Then step back and allow them time. Often the key to getting a project budget approved by the Manager means presenting the proposal, and then quietly wait for an answer… for days if needed. Pushing for an answer is the surest way to get a no. The Manager prides himself on being unemotional, but in truth, he is no less emotional than anyone else. If a Cheerleader type has 16 dramatic events in a day a Manager has one a month. A Cheerleaders emotions rise and fall like a roller coaster, a Manager is more like a tsunami, building high and deep over many days until it crashes onto the nearest hapless victim. He won’t admit to being offended but will stew over it, gathering evidence to prove his point, until he hits overload and finally accuses someone of being imperfect or insensitive.

Understand that while claiming to be unemotional, a Manager is deeply sensitive and easily offended. Watch for clues like grumpiness, unwillingness to talk, stomping around, while insisting everything is okay. Work to draw him out in conversation and uncover the reason for the hurt feelings. Let him proclaim the injustice, detail exactly why he is right and everyone else is wrong. Be prepared to remain calm, because the surest way to lose credibility with Managers is to come across as unstable and emotional!  He will rarely “perk up” he was never perky to begin with, but a logical discussion about fairness to all will usually bring him around.

Because of the bent toward negativity, raising Manager children means putting up with a certain amount of “grumpy talk”. They are not going to “snap out of it” or suddenly become ambitious, life of the party people. Rules that are right and fair sit best with them. They don’t have the rebelliousness that Coaches and Cheerleaders can have, that requires too much energy, but they do like proper rules to help them find stability. Following rules give them a sense of safety and control in their world. Proper rules have no shades of gray, either something is right or it’s wrong and the same standards should be applied to everyone. They aren’t very forgiving in their standards unless they tend toward an Manager/Team Player blend. They will need to be taught mercy toward others.


Cheerleaders (or a Sanguine) is happy go lucky and easy to get along with.  They love, love, love people! and parties! and fun! Any opportunity to entertain the crowd and the Cheerleader is there. They thrive on applause and recognition. If an employee messes up and deletes the whole customer data base, a Cheerleader is not going to worry about it (unless he’s got a good dose of Coach in his temperament, which is highly likely. Full Cheerleader types don’t typically become the boss).

One of the best ways to get along with a Cheerleader boss is to help shore up their weakness over details and thus  help them keep customers, and higher up bosses, happy. The Cheerleader is motivated by being popular and helping them avoid embarrassments, as long as the help is tactful, non judgmental or pushy, will be endearing. Cheerleaders have great ideas and can easily get everyone on his team, but he has less than great follow-through.A Cheerleader will benefit from help from Managers to see, and create plans to head off, potential disasters. Getting along with him means avoiding the temptation to throw cold water on overly optimistic projections. Support the project (Cheerleaders loves cooperation), gently guide him to more realistic expectations, and help keep the project on track.

Parents with no Cheerleader qualities in their temperament can be particularly stressed over their child’s free spirit. It is not unusual for a Cheerleader to change friends and hair color as often as he or she changes clothes. Household harmony can be preserved if a there is a little leeway for the Cheerleader to express his unique personality. And let them move. Cheerleaders are like Tigger: bouncy, flouncy, pouncy, trouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun. They aren’t trying to be disruptive or disobedient, they are being bouncy. If long periods of quiet are needed, precede it with long periods of movement & play and a promise of more to come later. Help him practice sitting still before the need arises to sit quietly for 45 minutes at Aunt Sarah’s formal wedding. Start with just a few minutes and gradually build up from there. Cheerleaders have very sensitive feelings, just like Managers, but won’t hold it in. If she’s hurt, look out, it’s drama queen time. Rest assured, it will pass quickly. Don’t over-react to the outburst and don’t take it too seriously.


The more familiar we are with personality types and the more adept we become at recognizing them in others, the better our relationships can be. A willingness to admit to our own weaknesses and accepting that our way is not the only way is, ultimately, the best place to start. You can learn more about personality types here