Ken Boddie

5 years ago · 3 min. reading time · visibility ~10 ·

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Do You Know Your Characters?

Do You Know Your Characters?

Most of you will have watched the hilarious TV sitcom, Modern Family, and have laughed your way through an episode or two of the various unbelievable, yet naggingly credible, social bloopers, temperament clashes, rule bends, and incredible, yet sometimes all too predictable, antics that this assortment of almost too real characters have scripted for them. How better then to illustrate how our real life personalities operate and interact, whether at work or play, than to borrow four of these well known characters? This is exactly the situation I found myself in recently when I attended a Communication Workshop specifically tailored for my peers and me, a group of senior management engineers, more used to budgets, programmes, reports and calculations, than how 'Cameron', 'Jay', 'Clare' and 'Manny' typify our human relationships and exemplify the four main human temperaments. Little did we know how our clinical psychologist for the morning, an experienced corporate facilitator, coach and master of ceremonies, would enthral us by proffering her advice and stage show using a backdrop of such familiar characters.  

So what are these vaguely familiar human character traits? Google 'The Four Temperaments' and you'll come up with a plethora of articles, all with much the same description, similar to the following:

  • popular, spontaneous, vivacious, cheerful Sanguine;
  • powerful, adventurous, pervasive, confident Choleric;
  • perfect, thoughtful, faithful, persistent Melancholic; and
  • peaceful, friendly, patient, contented Phlegmatic.

I was first introduced to these four traits or temperaments, when I sat through a thoroughly entertaining presentation, some twenty+ something years ago, by Florence Littauer who was hilariously narrating her way through extracts from her  then quite recently published best seller, "Personality Plus". Her presentation stayed with me for many years afterwards and I often returned to her book, more for entertainment value than any real thirst to gain insight into how my colleagues, friends and family behave and interact.

I still remember her jovially relating the story of how her melancholic husband, Fred, lectured sanguine Florence on how she was eating grapes incorrectly ("It never occurred to me", she said, "that there was a right and wrong way") and that the 'correct' way was to use scissors to trim little parcels from the bunch so as not have an untidy result.  I also remember her advice never to look inside a sanguine lady's handbag, where everything is stored but nothing can be found. 

Anyway, the four main character traits, Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic and Phlegmatic, have drifted in and out of my fog of a brain for the last all too many years, until surfacing again during the recent Communication Workshop I attended, thoughtfully illustrated as the selected Modern Family characters of 'Cameron', 'Jay', 'Clare' and 'Manny'. I hope you can recognise their 'personalities' which I am introducing you to below.

Cameron, the popular Sanguine, is an eternal optimist who influences others and makes life fun.  He's a talkative story-teller, the life and soul of the party, is good on stage, and is wide-eyed and innocent.

Jay, the powerful Choleric, is a born leader who takes charge easily and executes plans.  He is strong willed and decisive, is goal oriented, delegates work and thrives on competition.


Clare, the perfect Melancholic, is a pessimist who seeks perfection and may be prone to genius. She is orderly and organised, serious and purposeful. Talented and creative, she loves lists, charts, graphs and figures.

Manny, the peaceful Phlegmatic, is mediator who rolls with the pinches and relates well to others. He is low-key, easy going, calm, cool and collected. Never in a hurry, he is happily reconciled to life and is easy to get on with.

So where to from here? Well, you see, this post is not intended as an introduction to deep and meaningful character assessment (or assassination) and I have no intention (or capabiliity) of delving into the strengths and weaknesses, the emotional needs, behaviours, problems, and best ways to respond to each of the main personality types. Consult your local friendly qualified psychologist for that, or perhaps just Google what you need ('cause everything you read on Google is true, right?).

No, my reason for writing this post is to allow you to share my re-awakening by providing a readily identifiable means of remembering these character traits, through Sanguine Cameron, Choleric Jay, Melancholic Clare, and Phlegmatic Manny. If nothing else, you'll never watch another episode of Modern Family now, without looking a little more perceptively at the behaviour of these fictional players. 

And how about the other players in this sitcom? Whats more, how about the other players in your sitcom?


Thanks to Florence Littauer for the initial introduction, so many years ago, and to Jeannet Weijers and People Culture, for dragging these memories out of the mist and anchoring them in the 'reality' of television.


When not researching the weird or the wonderful, the comical or the cultured, the sinful or the serious, I chase my creative side, the results of which can be seen as selected photographs of my travels on my website at:

The author of the above, Ken Boddie, besides being a consulting engineer, is an enthusiastic photographer, rarely leisure-travelling without his Canon, and loves to interact with other like-minded photographers and people with an artistic background.

Ken's three day work week (part time commitment) as a consulting engineer allows him to follow his photography interests, and to plan trips to an ever increasing list of countries and places of scenic beauty and cultural diversity.


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Ken Boddie

4 years ago #25

Additional info sent by private message.

Lisa Gallagher

4 years ago #24

I don't think I could find them Ken Boddie and I'm sorry I missed your comment. Thank goodness for history, because I have found many posts/comments I missed. If you wouldn't mind, yes please, PM me the link and I will post the results!

Ken Boddie

4 years ago #23

Thanks, Lisa. Did you ever find the list of questions on line (refer our previous comments this buzz) to enable personality assessment? If not then message me your email and I'll forward you one from the original book.

Lisa Gallagher

4 years ago #22

It would be fun to have our families play a game and put our names to a character they think we most resemble. Or, it may cause a major rift lol. I can relate to both Cameron and Manny, even Phil to a certain degree- the pleaser. I'm not sure how others view me because it's hard to be objective of yourself. I can say for sure my husband is a mix of Jay and Cameron (the storyteller part). That's what attracted me to him years ago, the fun stories he shared. I have to remind myself of that at times now because his stories can take up an entire dinner convo (just kidding). My kids love it too. I'm glad you posted this link on Robert Cormack

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #21

Be sure and take notes Catalina \. I'll be asking questions later. 😀#29

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #20

You are indeed a man of character, Kevin Pashuk. Due to your comment, however, I'll now think of you every time I clear my throat. 😷 #27

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #19

Enjoyed the post Ken Boddie. I think I have taken almost every character assessment known to man. I was aware of the four character traits you highlighted. I am considering a personal crusade to rename 'phlegmatic' (who after all, wants to be identified with mucus?) but I think I'll just let things be.

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #18

According to theory, Teresa Gezze, the cholerics are the control freaks, Perhaps she is really a choleric melancholic? After all, very few of us exhibit only one personality type, and I'm sure we must change over the years. I know that I certainly have. Try bringing up the subject of the four basic personality types at your next gathering of friends or dinner party. It may rattle a few cages. 🤗 😒 🤓 😇 #24

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #17

Thanks for the shares Catalina \. Much appreciated. 🌻

I think this buzz deserves even more attention Ken Boddie and it is worthy. I discussed and even helped in creating the Idea Metamorphosis Hive and this buzz deserves to blossom into a new flower. Yes, I agree with you

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #15

I'm glad you like the buzz, Ali Anani. 😀 I understand, from additional discussion yesterday, that Modern Family is now being used quite generally by psychologists to demonstrate the Four Human Temperaments of Hippocrates. And I thought I had found something quite unique on the workshop I attended. ☹️ Nevertheless, unique or common, there is still much value in using a popular sitcom like this to demonstrate and to facilitate retention, don't you think? 👍#18

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #14

If your roommate gives you a hard time, Catalina \, then remember Jeffrey Boxer's comment at #4 below. Ha Ha! #17

I like this buzz very much and the comments as well. I wrote a post on LI on "Characters Quotient and its importance and validity. This post resonates very well with me.

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #12

You certainly can find your personality profile, Lisa Gallagher, by easily picking your way through a series of word choices. I checked mine again recently, using my old copy of Florence Littauer's book, which has been republished many times and should be readily available through Amazon, etc. Perhaps you may be able to find some similar assessment procedures on line? Once you know your dominant type (or types), that's when the fun starts. Good luck! 😀 #15

Lisa Gallagher

5 years ago #11

I'm going to assume the workshop was quite interesting? How could it not be using these characters from one of my all time favorite Sitcoms?!! I LOVE Jay and Cameron!! Sometimes I want to shake Phil and tell him to stop being such a wuss ( I know, I know.. it's just a show). Interesting personality traits I've never heard of. I wonder if it's possible to be objective of ourselves and guess which one we might be? Maybe we can be a mix of two? Thanks for sharing this Ken Boddie!

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #10

They say, Paul \, that guys with a bald patch on top are sexy, while those with a receding hairline are thinkers. If, however, you have both, like me, then you just think you're sexy! ☹️ #12

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #9

I refuse to go there, Julie Hickman, in case it gets me in hot water with my sanguine wife. 😨 #10

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #8

Hey Paul \, from one folically challenged guy to another, I bet you wish you had Gloria's hair! 👩🏻 #9

Javier 🐝 CR

5 years ago #7

hahaahha you are totally right !! :-)

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #6

If you don't like Clare, Javier C\u00e1mara Rica, who's going to do all those nice charts and graphs for you, not to mention all those lists? #5

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #5

Good one, Jeffrey. 👀 #4

Javier 🐝 CR

5 years ago #4

Cameron and Jay makes a nice combination ! I don't like Clare, and Manny is often necessary !

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #3

u think right :-)

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #2

Thanks, Pascal Derrien, I think? 👍#1

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #1

A melancholic article full of sanguine temperament :-)

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