Eric and I fell in love over college cafeteria food and rousing psychological discussions – just your run of the mill, everyday fairytale romance. ~smile~
We loved to sit in the dining hall and try to ‘type’ our fellow students’ personalities. She’s sitting alone reading a book on philosophy. She is probably an introvert and she is likely intuitive. This may not sound like your cup of tea, but there is nothing more exciting to a couple of adorable psychology nerds such as us. ~smile~
Recently, when I was reading Confronting Without Offending by Deborah Smith Pegues, I discovered another personality inventory – which made my day! Based on Hippocrates temperaments, phlegmatic, sanguine, choleric, and melancholy (whose temperaments are commonly used in the popular DISC assessment), Deborah has created an inventory that helps us distinguish temperaments based on the different functions people have on airplanes. Her P.A.C.E. Personality Profile divides us into the following temperaments: Passenger (Phlegmatic [S]), Attendant (Sanguine [I]), Captain (Choleric [D]), and Engineer (Melancholy [C]).
‘Passengers’ are the largest population as compared to the other temperaments. Similarly, on a flight, passengers comprise the majority of people on board. They like to be led. Most of them do not want to take an active part in running the plane. They want to sit, read, look out the window, talk to other passengers, or sleep. Occasionally, they want to enjoy a beverage and a light snack. Even those brave souls who sit on the exit rows and take on the responsibility of aiding other passengers in times of crisis do not really expect to be called to duty. They probably just want the extra leg room.
Passengers are not likely to wish they could be something different. How many times have you seen a passenger stand to his feet and declare, “I think I’ll fly this plane today!” Never have I seen an airline guest insist that the flight attendant sit and relax while she (the passenger) serves the drinks. Basically, passengers want to leave on time, land on time, enjoy a worry free flight, and have no surprises. They are happy being one of the crowd.
Personally, I think it takes a special person to be a flight attendant. It may not seem like bringing you a pillow is a big deal, but with a hundred people all wanting something, attendants find themselves running back and forth a lot, calming nerves, and maintaining a pleasant exterior throughout the flight (at least I think they are supposed to do that ~smile~).
Attendants have a knack for helping… sometimes too much. Those dating or married to an Attendant might get frustrated because of all the commitments their sweethearts get sucked into! These folks are generally quite friendly, they care about people, and they like to keep the atmosphere feeling just right! Being pulled in so many directions, they may be forgetful or find themselves overcommitted. They love attention and social approval means the world to them. I admire Attendants for how much they do for others… and with a happy face.
Your pilot probably won’t win any awards for entertainment and hospitality, but you don’t care. You want him (or her) to be right where he is… in the cockpit, flying the plane. You are not going to look down on him for being focused on his work during the flight and you are probably not going to say, “Hey Buddy, why do you get to be in charge?” You love the fact that he is knowledgeable, professional, and that he is ignoring you in order to get the job done well. (And he knows that the attendants are there to serve you, anyway.)
It is not that Captains cannot have a good time and be friendly. They are often quite friendly to the passengers as they get off the aircraft. When they are finished with the task at hand, they can be tons of fun. However, when they are in the middle of a task, it takes precedence over pretty much everything else. Captains are not worried that they are ignoring those around them or hurting their feelings. The task must get completed! The plane must land in the right place at the right time and as smoothly as possible! If a few Attendants have to endure some blunt directives or Passengers are inconvenienced by having to return to their seats and buckle up, so be it. It is not that the Captain is a power hungry jerk… he simply must do his job well for everyone else’s sake!
Engineers are not typically the life of the party, but we need them… in some cases, to stay alive. Without someone to see that the equipment on the plane is running smoothly, a flight could turn tragic. About a year ago, Eric and I travelled to Colorado and our flight was delayed for a few hours because something mechanical was broken and the engineers were working to fix the problem. As much as this Passenger (i.e., me) did not like to wait, I would have been even less thrilled about ascending thousands of feet in a plane with a known mechanical issue.
Engineers are very much into details. They like rules and regulations. They think analytically and can figure out puzzles. They can stay at tasks from which many of us would tire! Engineers are faithful, sensitive and can also be critical. Their critical eye may get them in trouble in social settings, but it helps them catch errors and keep projects running smoothly. We need Engineers!
A Passenger and a Captain
Studying the P.A.C.E temperaments helped shed some serious light on the differences between Eric and myself – differences which have driven us bonkers in the past (and in the present ~smile~).
Eric is a Captain (surprise, surprise…) and I am a Passenger. He likes to take charge and accomplish tasks. I like to follow, keep the peace, and defer to others when there is a problem. When a Captain husband demands his Passenger wife attack problems head on – and his Passenger wife insists he calm down and enjoy the ride – both parties have faulty expectations.
Without a Captain, the plane would go down (not an option!) Without Passengers, the plane would not need to go anywhere in the first place. If there were no Attendants, the Passengers would have nobody to assist them on the journey. And, without the ever detailed Engineers, the plane’s equipment could give out mid-flight. Each role is important.
I encourage you to purchase the book Confronting Without Offending and take the P.A.C.E. Personality Profile in Section Four. Have your sweetheart take it too. After determining your respective temperaments, read the descriptions of each temperament and laugh together as you find characteristics that “fit you to a T.” The more you understand each other’s personalities the easier it will be to learn how to relate to each other.
Eric did not intend to hurt my feelings by brushing my question off tonight. He was focused on completing our taxes and he was engrossed in his task. I am so thankful he takes charge of that task!
Heather is not trying to drive me nuts by walking five steps behind me. She is a follower and she’s content to stop and smell the roses. She does not have the same driving need to succeed that I do and that helps us stay balanced.
In addition to the P.A.C.E Personality Profile, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is an outstanding personality test. There is a lot of information about the different (16 in all) personality types online.
And perhaps my favorite inventory is The PAIR Test which shows how different pairs (couples, friends, co-workers, parent/child) personalities, preferences, and dynamics work (and do not work) with each other. It is great to know your sweetheart’s personality, but it is even better to see how your dynamics work together. The PAIR Test shows couples areas where they are likely to have little contention (smooth sailing) and areas where they are likely to experience some turbulence. Once you know which areas will cause your relationship tension, you can take steps to compromise in those areas… and you can ward off potential blow ups by being prepared in advance!
Are you a passenger, attendant, captain, or engineer? Which temperament is your sweetheart?