When it comes to personality profiles, most have heard of Myers-Briggs, Galen’s four temperaments, DiSC assessment, and the Keirsey Temperament Sorter. One of the lesser known profiles, but just as insightful, was developed by Dr. Gary Smalley and Dr. John Trent.
They base their personalities around animal characteristics. Not only are these entertaining but they are very easy for children to grasp as well. My wife and I often find ourselves saying, “that person sure is a ‘beaver,’” or “you’re such a ‘lion-golden retriever.’”
While these personality types are certainly broad categories, I find them very easy to remember and communicate. This is extremely beneficial when dealing with people and/or employees. Knowing their temperaments can make the work environment, meetings, and projects run much smoother.
Understanding the Animal Temperaments
Many of you will leave this discovery process feeling good about yourself, perhaps better than ever before. You’ll sense who you are, how you fit into a group, and why you tend to be attracted to your mate. If you’re single, this session will show you the kind of person you will be attracted to.
If you’re a parent, this discovery process will explain why your kids do what they do, why one of them is messy or another is bossy. This will help you parent the children individually, instead of lumping them into a generic group. Each child should know their personality strengths, even when they’re young. It’s never too soon to give a personality inventory to your children, because personality traits show up in newborn babies, indicating some character qualities are formed before birth – well before environmental or cultural conditioning takes over. Our personality type can last our entire life. The personality inventory you take is not like a test you fail or pass. It’s more like a fingerprint that shows your tendencies. Tendencies can change, unlike fingerprints. Mine have, yours will.
Discovering your personality strengths and tendencies in relationships will show you what irritates your mate, your parents or your friends. When you see on this evaluation where you have too much of one thing, that is usually what drives your mate nuts.
By making a few adjustments, and by allowing for differences, you will reduce personality conflicts. That’s what happened in my home. Years ago, before the kids married. we all became familiar with our personality strengths and tendencies using this same test and expanding on it. That brought a measure of harmony and tolerance into our home that we didn’t expect.
L is for Lion
Look at the inventory you took and scored yourself in. Those who scored the highest in the L category are our lions or leaders. Their leadership inspires a following. Their many accomplishments inspire awe. In the military, the Lions are the Schwartzkopfs, the Pattons, and other generals. In business, Lions are either the president of their company, or they think they’re the president. Lion-types are take-charge, visionary, and sometimes intimidating people.
Too much of this quality can create a problem in the home or in personal relationships. People in authority who like to take charge can become pushy and overbearing. They can step in front of people or over people – all in order to get things done. Their motto seems to be “We have to do it now — immediately!” Lions don’t want to waste any time. That can be real irritating and offensive to a mate, to a child, or to a friend.
Lion can cause major problems in a marriage. Too much Lion can cause a problem in parent-child relationships, too. A friend of mine had a six-year-old Lion child who once would not let her finish taking a shower. He kept banging on the bathroom door saying, “Mom, I want my bike out of the garage.” She said, “Honey, I’m taking a shower. I’m not dried off completely yet. I’ll be out in a minute.” “No, I want it now,” the Lion said, as he kept banging away on the door.
The Lion got his way. She gave in, put on her housecoat, not bothering to actually strap it properly, and out to the garage she went. This woman has the type of personality that readily gives in to something like that. Sure enough, when she tugged at the garage door, which she forgot was broken, the door went up with a whoosh. The spring caught her housecoat, and that, too, went up with a whoosh. You can bet she was a sight to behold, as she faced the street trying to hold onto her upraised housecoat. Little Lion children can sure be frustrating!
You know what Lions need when they’re too stressed out? They often need to express their anger. That relaxes them. Time alone also relaxes them. So if you’re married to a Lion, you might want to have some rules on how and when they can express their anger.
O is for Otter
Those of you who scored highest in the 0 category are the Otters. You are a fun-loving type, always looking for a party to happen. Otters can be entertainers, enthusiastic motivators, those who know people who know people who know people.
They know everybody and bring so much fun into our lives and into our world.
(Even though you may have scored the highest on this, you may still have some of another personality type. You may score close on two categories. Usually we are highest in just one or two and Iowan two others.)
As fun-loving as Otters are, there’s a problem with Otters. Otters may be a party-waiting-to-happen, but after saying, “Party? – sure, I’ll be there!” we may not in fact get there. Very likely, Otters will forget to bring the popcorn or whatever else they promised to bring. Why? Because we’re at some other party.
Another problem with Otters is that we can be dangerous and risk-takers. Not only are Otters a bit foolish in the risks we take, we are very verbal, which can also get us in trouble. Another problem with expressive Otters is that our friendships tend to be numerous but not very deep. We tend to raise expectations and hurt somebody’s feelings without meaning to. We’re enthusiastic and excited about someone new, but when we leave the room, we meet somebody else and we’re excited about meeting that person.
Otters goof off too much. Otters love to play practical jokes. The creativity of Otters can become a bit of a nuisance. When I go to a restaurant, I treat menus as mere suggestions, not orders. So I have fun creating my own, ”I’d like to get #5 and #4 in combo, with a little #3 on the side.” It drives my wife nuts because she likes to order #5, wondering why I try to confuse everybody. To an Otter, it’s not as much fun just ordering a plain #5. Otters are very optimistic people. We think anything is possible, and we can do anything.
G is for Golden Retriever
Now, thirdly, we get to that of the Golden Retriever – one that all of you with a high score in the G category can identify with. Golden Retrievers are among the most sensitive people on earth. Stamped on their forehead is the guarantee: “1 won’t hurt you; 1 won’t say mean things to you.” They avoid confrontation, enjoy routine, value loyalty. If you marry one, he or she won’t leave you. Golden ~ Retrievers are the warm, relational, nurturing ones. They feel deeply and will care enough to buy the appropriate card.
Picture a Golden Retriever: the dog that is so loving, follows you with kind, puppy-dog eyes, and cuddles with you. That’s fine character to have in a dog, but too much of this trait in people can be a problem. People who are overly sensitive can be easily hurt. The loyal Golden Retriever can become stubborn in refusing to let go of hurts or grief. Sometimes not even even death can budge a Golden Retriever. Case in pain
Because they’re so loyal and do not like change, Golden Retrievers can take a month to do something spontaneous. Golden Retrievers can feel the hurts of others so deeply.
Because Golden Retrievers bring every concern home with them, including the cares of colleagues and schoolmates, it’s as if they are the ones entering into the boxing arena. This preoccupation, guilt and worry can weaken a relationship for as long as Golden Retrievers carry the weight of the world on their shoulders.
B is for Beaver
Our fourth group of people are those who scored high in the B category, whom we call Beavers. These are the people who enjoy not only writing instruction manuals, but reading those manuals. They value accuracy, getting things straight, and doing things right. Beavers make good health and safety inspectors, quality controllers, bankers, and accountants. They like quality, not junk. To the extent that we have nice things in the world, we have some Beaver to thank.
Too much Beaver, as with excess in any personality type, can make others feel uncomfortable. They are so serious, they have little tolerance for those who mess up. When you’re with them, you feel like being very careful, because you don’t want to be in trouble with them.
Guess who takes the longest time taking this Personality Strengths Survey? Beavers. Of all the personalities, the ones with the most stomach trouble are the Beavers, because they want their choices to be right. They are the hardest on themselves. You may think that Beavers only harp on your mistakes, but often they are pointing out mistakes in themselves.
Beavers are keenly alert to their own weaknesses and shortcomings. They know whenever they fail to measure up to personal or professional standards.
A person with a strong Beaver trait has his socks all color coordinated and rolled up in the sock drawer, his closet is all neatly arranged, the shoes are all in a row. Beavers have been known to iron their underwear and even fold their dirty clothes. The Otters are lucky if they get clothes in the general area where they have to go. Beavers will make their beds every day, not only at home, but also on the road when staying at a motel with maid service. One Beaver I know even folds the towels in the motel bathroom to make it look like the room has never been used. Do you think this Otter would ever make a bed in a motel, or put the towels back up so no one could tell?
Beavers can be late for meetings or late for dinner. That’s because they must do things right, which means finishing what they started. When they start something Beavers will not quit until they finish, even if that means staying up all night or missing out on some other fun. Yet they may become irritated at other members of the family for not helping them. Beavers, for all the tidy work they do, don’t like to do chores unless they can do them just right.
We use our strengths and blend our differences to love others
That’s a brief look at the Lion, the Otter, the Golden Retriever, and the Beaver. We have different combinations of each personality type within ourselves and within our marriages. My wife has a lot of Beaver and Golden Retriever. It’s very normal for Golden Retrievers to have some Beaver in them. And it’s very normal for a Lion and an Otter to marry a Golden Retriever or Beaver combination.
The couple with the most marriage problems, if they don’t understand each other, is the Lion and the Golden Retriever. The reason they are attracted to each other is because the Lion likes to control and express himself. A husband-Lion finally has in the Golden Retriever-mate someone who will listen, saying to him, “Aye, aye, Sir.” Likewise, the wife-Lion finally has in the Golden Retriever-mate someone to go along, saying to her, “Yes, Ma’am.”
If a particular character trait of yours is too extreme, to the point that it irritates your mate or your children, you can decide to push that trait down and push other traits up. Of course, being Christians causes us to work hard at understanding others and working to get along!
Here is a description of the four personality types based on Gary Smalley’s writings:
Lion- This personality likes to lead. The lion is good at making decisions and is very goal-oriented. They enjoy challenges, difficult assignments, and opportunity for advancement. Because lions are thinking of the goal, they can step on people to reach it. Lions can be very aggressive and competitive. Lions must learn not to be too bossy or to take charge in other’s affairs.
Strength: Goal-oriented, strong, direct
Weakness: Argumentative, too dictatorial
Limitation: Doesn’t understand that directness can hurt others, hard time expressing grace
Otter- Otters are very social creature. Otter personalities love people. They enjoys being popular and influencing and motivating others. Otter can sometimes be hurt when people do not like them. Otter personalities usually have lots of friends, but not deep relationships. They love to goof-off. (They are notorious for messy rooms.) Otters like to hurry and finish jobs. (Jobs are not often done well.)
Strength: People person, open, positive
Weakness: Talks too much, too permissive
Limitation: Remembering past commitments, follow through with discipline
Golden Retriever- Good at making friends. Very loyal. Retriever personalities do not like big changes. They look for security. Can be very sensitive. Very caring. Has deep relationships, but usually only a couple of close friends. Wants to be loved by everyone. Looks for appreciation. Works best in a limited situation with a steady work pattern.
Strength: Accommodating, calm, affirming
Weakness: Indecisive, indifferent, unable to express emotional, too soft on other people
Limitation: Seeing the need to be more assertive, holding others accountable
Beaver- Organized. Beavers think that there is a right way to do everything and they want to do it exact that way. Beaver personalities are very creative. The y desire to solve everything. Desire to take their time and do it right. Beavers do not like sudden changes. They need reassurance.
Strength: High standards, order, respect
Weakness: Unrealistic expectations of self & others, too perfect.
Limitation: Seeing the optimistic side of things, expressing flexibility
Communicating Amongst The Animal Temperaments
Listed below are some working ideas to help you better understand your team mates and/or colleagues and become ‘lord of the jungle’:
Wants You to Be: efficient and to the point
Provide Them With: options, information on what it does and by when, freedom to act, immediate action
General Strategies: be efficient and competent, support their goals and objectives, if you disagree – argue facts and not personal feelings, be precise, time disciplined, well organized, focus on the results or bottom-line, do not waste their time, let them make the decision
Wants You to Be: stimulating and interesting
Provide Them With: quality, information on how it will enhance their status, increased talent, originality, uniqueness
General Strategies: be interested in them, support their dreams, feelings and opinions, be sociable, do not hurry the discussion – give them a chance to verbalize, try not to argue, don’t deal with details – put it all in writing, do not be shy, agree on the specifics of any arrangement
Golden Retrievers (S)
Wants You to Be: cooperative and pleasant
Provide Them With: assurances, information on how it will affect their circumstances, popular ideas, risk sharing, reliability, assistance in presenting to others
General Strategies: be non-threatening and sincere, show personal interest and support their feelings, don’t push, move along in a slow manner, show that you are listening, be easy-going, assure them that you stand behind any decisions
Wants You to Be: accurate and precise
Provide Them With: evidence, information on how they can logically justify, systematic plans, progress reviews
General Strategies: be thorough and well planned, support their thoughtful approach, demonstrate through action rather than words, be exact, organized, and prepared, give them time to verify your words, don’t rush decision making, avoid gimmicks, provide evidence that what you say is true and accurate
Discover Your Personality
Here is a small test to take to find out what your personality is.
Instructions: In each box chose the words that best describe your personality. Double the number of words you chose and record that number.
“Let’s do it now!”
Double the number chosen:___
“How was it done in the past?”
Double the number chosen:___
Warm and relational
“Trust me! It’ll work out!”
Double the number chosen:___
“Let’s keep things the way they are.”
Double the number chosen:___