#5b: Each Personality has Emotional Needs

Our focus for #5b is all about emotional needs. Each of the four personality types has them. In the original post, 10 Things You Need to Know About Personalities, I compared emotional needs to a cars gas tank: just like a car cannot “go” with an empty tank, people do not “go” very well when their emotional tanks are empty.


There are certain things that each personality type needs to be “filled up”. Even though there is not a personality “pump” that automatically delivers these nourishing things to people like a gas pump does for cars, if you understand these needs you can become a sort of pump for those around you AND for yourself. Being a “personality pump” is important when dealing with others as well as keeping your own emotional tank full. Let’s see how THIS part of personalities works.


I’ll start with me because I know myself so well.

A phlegmatic’s emotional needs include peace and quiet, feelings of worth, lack of stress, and respect. If I’m not getting these needs met by myself or others I can get real crabby . . . just ask my family. I get snippy and am not very fun to be around. When others understand what a phlegmatic needs to fill his or her emotional tank, they can start “pumping” into that need. For example, when a stressful situation arises a phlegmatic can handle it pretty well, but when someone understands that stress quickly drains a phlegmatic, they may help work through the situation to lessen the exposure the phlegmatic has to experience.

One source of stress for me (and this varies from phlegmatic to phlegmatic) is chaos. Before my two sons left home for college, my house was a constant source of chaos which stressed me out. It is a challenge for young boys, choleric husbands, and a trio of terrier to fill the emotional tank of a phlegmatic, so I rarely expected them to lessening my exposure to chaos. However, since I KNEW this was a potential problem for my personality, and I learned to meet my own need for peace and quiet/lack of stress. We have always had some sort of pull trailer to camp in and on the days I knew I needed to get away from it all, I’d go camping in the backyard . . . in the trailer. After one night “away”, I was ready to be mom again because I had filled my own emotional tank.


This personality’s emotional needs include: sensitivity, support when down, space, and silence. These are typical of an introvert and there is a little overlap with the phlegmatic, the other introvert. The classic melancholy needs to know someone cares about their feelings. When it seems that no one cares or understands, it drains their emotional tank, and they tend to get moody and critical. When meeting the needs of this person, it is important to empathize with them and take a little extra time that not all the other personalities require. A quiet corner or room in a house is something that meets this person’s need for space and silence. They need a place to go where they can get lost in their thoughts without being interrupted. One thing that quickly drains this personality’s emotional tank is loud music or TV running continually in the background. Remember these little hints next time you are with a melancholy and you can help . . . “pump them up.”


Choleric people are doers and being recognized for all they accomplish fills their emotional tank. When a choleric has an empty emotional tank, watch out, they are grouchy on steroids!! Their emotional needs include: loyalty, sense of control, appreciation, accomplishment. My husband is choleric and since I understand what “fills his tank”, I am pretty good at expressing appreciation. I thank him for the little and big things he does around the house, plus I show my loyalty by supporting him in all he does. We don’t always agree, but when his emotional tank is full the conflict is greatly reduced.


Sanguine people require more attention than anyone else. They need: to be the center of attention, to be accepted “as is”, affection and approval. More so than any of the other personalities these people need to feel they belong and are loved by everybody. In fact, their emotional needs are so strong that they are the personality most susceptible to peer pressure. The danger with a sanguine when people go overboard to meet their need for attention and approval that this bright, lively personality begins to think the world revolves around them . . . they become self-centered (which is actually a weakness in this personality). A healthy balance is obtainable when we give them enough attention, acceptance, affection and approval to keep their emotional tank full, but not overflowing to an unhealthy extreme.

Emotional needs are important for the well being of any of the four personality types. When these needs go unmet it often leads to the “empty” individual to start acting in their weaknesses (as focused on in post #4). When we understand our emotional needs and those of others, we are empowered to create a world of balance as we navigate through life.

©2013 Shona Neff


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This entry was posted on Sunday, February 3rd, 2013 at 9:14 pm and is filed under Personalities - Did You Know?, Personalities - Post about all 4, The Personalities - Let's Learn!. 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.


2 Responses to “#5b: Each Personality has Emotional Needs”

  1. Marie Says:

    Hi, thank you for your blog, I am reading through it presently and finding some great things. I am a choleric personality type and I have always excelled academically and thrived on achievements, and as an adult have always been in business. After my husband and I got married 6 years ago, we started a business which we operate today from our home. God has called me to homeschool our children, and we also have recently felt God telling us to not try to control the number of children we have. I am pregnant with number three. My problem is that I do not have any tangible accomplishments and I am often frustrated by not achieving anything on a daily basis. My husband is almost single handedly running our business and as you might have guessed, he is phlegmatic, though not entirely. It is hard to be on the sidelines of the business but I am conflicted because I feel called into these other areas by God himself!

    Why does God ask us to do things completely outside of our personality types? Of course, I am working on other ministries in my mind, and have started a moms group at my home for homeschooling moms who have dropped out of professional world. But still, I find myself wanting to accomplish and achieve things and particularly to administrate ministry-minded projects. I am committed to investing in my children and putting them as my #1 priority, but finding it hard to balance this with my NEED to achieve.

    Also, my husband and I have a very difficult time working together in our warehouse and we have even gone to counseling for our communication issues. Do you have any insight into what I should do next?
    It has been extremely hard to balance the husband wife relationship within our business, and I am starting to feel it is not worth the detriment to our relationship for me to even be a part of it.

  2. admin Says:

    Marie, thanks for stopping by and commenting and asking questions. You have a lot going on that would take quite a bit of time and space to address….and some may even go outside my realm or expertise since I am not a certified counselorsr. The one thing I think I can address in limited space is the God question. God does bless us with a certain personality type, but He doesn’t put us in a box.

    What I have found that as I mature spiritually and in my personality I am better equipped to handle things God throw my way. We need to recognize WHERE we are the best fit, but need to be ready to step up when God calls us out of our comfort zone. There is no set answer as to why because who can know God’s mind :) We just find a way to to the best we can, and step into the things that best fit who we are, but recognize and do our best when God calls us other places. Sometimes that happens because the person who is the best fit doesn’t step up. Gee, there’s another topic there.

    I hope this helps a little or at least gives you some things to ponder.


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