Workplace Personalities, Part 4 – Diplomatic, Diligent, and Sometimes Lazy

Who in the workplace can be diplomatic, diligent, and sometimes lazy? It’s the phlegmatic.

What makes this personality soar or crash in the workplace is their ability to operate in their strengths. Let’s explore the interesting phenomenon that is a phlegmatic at work.


Phlegmatic people are natural diplomats. That stems from their dislike of conflict – they are the peacemakers. More so than the other three personality types, they are able to see the merit in opposite sides of a dispute. Their easy-going manner allows them to mediate well when two or more parties are tearing at each others throats.

Several years ago when I worked at my college friend’s dry cleaner we had a former scientist (I live in the place where the atomic bomb was developed and we have lots of older scientist walking around our community) as a customer. He was a tad eccentric and brought some rather odd requests into the shop. He was never satisfied with the finished product and came in regularly to rant, rave, and yell at employees . . . that is, all except me. He like me because I chatted with him and talked about his old days at the national lab. Needless to say I was the only phlegmatic employee and my natural inclination to slow down and take time with him touched his crusty old, scientific heart.


Talk about a diligent heart. That is the phlegmatic. If they say they are going to do something, they WILL get it done. But here lays the problem:

  1. They will not get it done with the fanfare and flamboyance of a sanguine.
  2. They will not get it done with the intensity and speed of the choleric.
  3. They will not get it done with the meticulous precision of a melancholy.
  4. They WILL get it done in their time and in the their no-frills way.

In college I worked at a book and music store. My co-workers included a sanguine and a choleric. One day the boss came in and sat behind the counter and watched us go about our typical duties. At the end of the day he commented to me, “Hmm, I guess you DO do work around here after all. You’re a good little worker.” In this case I was easily overlooked because I went about my responsibilities without any fanfare.


I hate to admit it, but, yes, sometimes a phlegmatic worker can be lazy on the job. This usually happens when they are operating in their weakness. In most personalities, strengths carried to the extreme become weaknesses. A lazy worker comes when a phlegmatic takes their laid-back nature to the extreme and they don’t do anything. This is no good in the workplace and makes extra work for others.

A Good Leader?

There is an interesting phenomenon that follows some phlegmatic employees: because they are so inoffensive and easy to get along with, they sometimes end up in managerial positions when they are not always the best match. Supervisors and managers need to be good decision makers. Phlegmatic people don’t come by that skill naturally. People in elevated positions of responsibility have more tasks . . . phlegmatic personalities tend not to be task oriented unless they have a melancholy blend. When a phlegmatic ends up in a role with more responsibilities than they are equipped for, they are often unhappy and ineffective.

However, a phlegmatic operating in his or her strengths brings diplomacy and an nonabrasive style to leadership roles. They work will under pressure and their warm, comfortable demeanor often makes them a beloved boss. They also have a knack of turning chaos into a manageable project.

Good Career Matches

  • Engineers
  • Support Roles like assistant
  • Librarians
  • School Administrators
  • Counselors


  • Being an entrepreneur
  • Leadership positions in areas you are not passionate or experienced in
  • Positions that are consistently high-pressure

Phlegmatic personalities thrive in a variety of positions, but the key is that they operate in their natural strengths and choose a career that ignites their passions.

©2012 Shona Neff



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This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 29th, 2012 at 4:29 pm and is filed under Personalities - At Work, Personalities: Four-Part Series, Personality Stories - Phlegmatic. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


4 Responses to “Workplace Personalities, Part 4 – Diplomatic, Diligent, and Sometimes Lazy”

  1. Michael Says:

    :DDDD lol
    This blog is very funny. I enjoyed reading this blog. It’s true that most of the employees are sometimes lazy but they are just burned out! :) Thanks for this. This blog made me realize my limitation as an employee. Sorry boss ! :) hahahaha

  2. Prince Says:

    I really hate phlegmatic temperaments of the people I’m handling. They are like weirdos!! But one of its advantages is you can request to them easily.
    I am choleric but sometimes diplomatic. It depends on the person I am talking to. Hmm like this blog. Really helpful and informative!

  3. admin Says:

    Thanks for stopping by Prince. I’m glad my post was helpful. Yes, phlegmatics can prove frustrating to a choleric person….I know how that goes, just ask my husband (I’m phlegmatic.) But, over the years, I’ve noticed every personality has frustrating traits to those of a different temperament :) But, all of them are wonderful, too. I hope you’ll read more of my blog and gain a better understanding of others AND yourself. I know this knowledge helps me as I deal with those who are different than me. The world is full of great people, but sometimes we have a dig a little deeper to appreciate the personalities God has blessed us with.


  4. admin Says:

    Michael, thanks for stopping by. Sorry for the delayed response, but I’m glad you found the blog post helpful. When we understand the personalities of our co-workers, bosses, and/or employees, it makes all the difference when finding the right role for the right person. People really shine when doing jobs that fit their personality. It can also help an employers recognize burnout in an employee who is generally productive and they suddenly get lazy.


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