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Thomas Erikson: Surrounded by idiots; The Four Types of Human Behaviour

Surrounded by idiots types of human behavior

Communication Happens on the Listener’s Terms

Everything you say to a person is filtered through his frames of reference, biases, and preconceived ideas.

No matter what kind of behavior you have, the majority of people around you will function differently from you.

Flexibility and the ability to interpret other people’s needs is what characterizes a good communicator.

Behavior patterns are like a toolbox. All types are needed.

In theory, every kind of behavior is normal. Normal behavior:

  • … is predictable …
  • … is part of pattern …
  • … is changeable …
  • … can be observed …
  • … is understandable …
  • … is unique …
  • … is excusable …

Why Are We the Way We Are

Where does our behavior come from? It is combination of heredity and environment.

Children learn and develop in multiple ways, but the most common is by imitation. Core values are the first layer of behavior. Next layer is my attitudes. Then core behavior, moderated behavior and on top we have environment.

Both my core values and my attitudes affect how I choose my behavior. My core behavior is how I act in complete freedom, without the influence of any external factors at all.

The people around you most often see your moderated behavior.

Behavior is a function of Personality and Surrounding factors.

Behavior is that which we can observe. Personality is what we try to figure out. Surrounding factors are things that we have an influence on.

An Introduction to the System

Four types – blue, red, green and yellow. We can put them in matrix: where blue and red are task-oriented and issue oriented; red and yellow are extrovert, active and implementer; yellow and green are relation-oriented; green and blue are introvert, passive and reserved.

Almost 80 % have two dominant colors, 5 % only one, and the rest have three colors.

Some characteristics are:

  • Analytical (blue):
    • Slow reaction
    • Maximum effort to organize
    • Minimal interest in relationships
    • Historical time frame
    • Cautious action
    • Tendency to avoid involvement
  • Dominant (red):
    • Quick reaction
    • Maximum effort to control
    • Minimal interest for caution in relationship
    • Current time frame
    • Direct action
    • Tendency to avoid involvement
  • Stable (green):
    • Calm reaction
    • Maximum effort for connection
    • Minimal interest in change
    • Current time frame
    • Supportive action
    • Tendency to reject conflict
  • Inspiring (yellow):
    • Rapid reaction
    • Maximum effort to involve
    • Minimal interest in routine
    • Future time frame
    • Impulsive action
    • Tendency to reject isolation

Red behavior

Hippocrates defines them as choleric. Nowadays you might call a Red person bold, ambitious, driven, but also potentially hot-tempered, rash, or dominant.

Something is always happening in the lives of Red people.

A common remark is that Reds are very honest, because they dare to express their personal truths to people.

If the task is important enough, a Red will go through fire and water to complete it. If he feels it has no purpose, into the trash it goes.

Reds like competing.

Quick is synonymous with good for Reds. Because Reds are quick thinkers, they move long before everyone else. A Red detests inactivity.

For a Red, a realistic budget is a budget for cowards. Nothing is impossible. The impossible just takes a little longer.

For a Red power is not an end in itself. A Red usually doesn’t care what others think. Reds aren’t afraid to make decisions.

A Red doesn’t try to stick to his original point of view when he realizes that a better solution exists.

Reds get bored with the status quo quickly and so they change it.

Famous Red people: Steve Jobs, FDR, Venus Williams, Margaret Tacher, Barack Obama and Mother Teresa.

Yellow Behavior

Hippocrates defines them as sanguinis. They are optimistic, cheerful, a persons with a bright outlook on life.

They know how to capture everyone’s attention and how to keep it. They make us feel important. They are just nice to be around.

They also make decisions quickly, but they can rarely explain why using rational reasoning.

You won’t find anyone more resourceful than a Yellow.

They move quickly. The Yellow’s intellect is very fast, which means that it can be difficult to keep up.

A Yellow dare to go beyond the usual conventions when he’s in a creative mode.

With all their energy and optimism. Yellows are very persuasive. Most Yellows have a rich and varied way of gesticulating.

Without even knowing it, many Yellows are skilled rhetoricians. They are inspirational.

Yellows know everyone. They like everyone.

Some famous Yellow: Oprah Winfrey, Robin Williams and Ellen DeGeneres.

Green Behavior

Hippocrates called them phlegmatic people. The Green person is the most common. He is being the average of all the other colors. Greens are the most balanced.

They are easy to deal with. They let you be yourself. They don’t demand much.

Green people are kindness personified. They are the best listeners. They are also team players.

Change isn’t their greatest strength.

If a Green says that he will do something, you can be confident that he’ll do it.

They don’t have problems taking orders. But it is hard to get a straight answer from a Green. He’s always trying to satisfy everyone else.

They say Greens are introverts, that is, that they’re active in their inner world. This means that they don’t talk just for the sake of talking.

Famous Green: Mr. Rogers, Gandhi, Michelle Obama, Jimmy Carter, Jesus.

Blue Behavior

Blue has all the right answers. In the background, he analyzes, classifies, evaluates and assesses.

He is also pessimist, sorry, a realist. He sees errors, and he sees risks.

If the question doesn’t come up, it’s unlikely that your Blue buddy will say anything on the subject.

A Blue can rarely get too many facts or have too many pages of fine print. Cutting corners is simply not an option for a Blue.

They’re generally very cautious. They often think safety first. Quality is all that matters.

Logical and rational thinking is critical to a Blue. Out with all the feelings (as much as possible) and in with logic.

They are probably introvert. They don’t say a single word unnecessarily.

Famous Blue: Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Sandra Day O’Connor and Condoleezza Rice.

No One is Completely Perfect – Strengths and Weaknesses

Communication usually takes place on the recipient’s terms.

  • Reds are quicks and more than happy to take command if needed. They make things happen. But they are also control freaks and they trample on people’s toes.
  • Yellows can be amusing, creative and elevate the mood. But they can consume all oxygen from the room and their stores can be far from reality.
  • Greens are easy to hang out with, but they can be too wishy-washy and unclear. You don’t know where they really stand, and indecision kills the energy in other people.
  • Blue are analytical and calm, levelheaded and think before they speak. But Blue critical thinking can easily turn to suspicion and questioning those around them.

Reds and Yellows tend to inflate their strengths and believe that they have no weakness. Conversely, Greens and Blues usually exaggerate their weaknesses and in certain cases even ignore their strengths.

Reds are surrounded by more idiots than the rest of us. Some people say that Reds are just belligerent, arrogant, and egotistical. They are perceived as unyielding, impatient, aggressive, and controlling. Red is more task oriented than relationship oriented. Reds have no problem taking one or two shortcuts, as long as it’s about getting things done. Because the was Reds communicate is so blunt and so direct, many perceive them as aggressive. A Red has no problem with conflict. The worst thing you can do once you get into a conflict with a Red is back off. Reds are not typical relational people. Reds often come out the winners in discussions. They see this as a natural part of a conversation.

Blue will say that Yellow are selfish, superficial, and overly self-confident. Yellow are very good communicators. Many people become hugely frustrated by this limitless verbosity. It’s often perceived as egocentrism. What Yellows share is often completely unprocessed material that just tumbles out of the big opening on their faces. Yellows know a thing or two about presenting an idea so that it always sounds fantastic. A Yellow would hardly admit that he’s careless. But he has no natural way to keep track of things. They are always prepared for new experiences, but they are not the best at concentrating. If a Yellow is anything, it’s a bad listener. It is not about memory, but they believe they could say it better.

Reds and Yellows especially have problems with silent resistance from Greens. Greens do tend to tell the truth, but behind the back of the person concerned. They also don’t like to change. If we ask Reds what they think about Greens, there will be some heavy opinions. Greens can be a little naïve and gullible. So they can be easily exploited. They are reluctant to take a position on sensitive issues. They are not task oriented. They are not precise. They have aversion to conflict. Because Greens are pronounced relational people, nothing is more important to them than keeping a relationship together.

Even perfectionist Blue individuals receive criticism. They can be perceived as evasive, defensive, reserved, hesitant, conservative, coldhearted. They find it difficult to begin anything new, because they want to prepare very thoroughly. Many Blues are perceived as highly critical and almost suspicious. A Blue believes that good enough is never really good enough. A Blue doesn’t need small talk. He can easily give the impression that he doesn’t care about other people. A Blue checks everything one extra time because it’s possible to check everything one extra time.

Learning New Things

Understanding people will always remain a crucial factor in achieving your goals in life as smoothly as possible, no matter what these goals are.

Body Language: Why How You Move Matters

Body language refers to all forms of nonverbal communication conscious as well as unconscious. The modern English language contains about one hundred and seventy thousand words, of which five thousand are used regularly. Body language contains almost seven hundred thousand signals.

  • Posture is important. If you have an erect, somewhat wooden posture, people can behave that this is a signal of dominance.
  • Gaze. When something is awful or unpleasant, many lift their hands up to their faces. And when you need to think, you often close your eyes for a while.
  • Head and Face. When speaking, we usually either nod or shake our heads, depending on whether we agree or not.
  • Hands.
  • Territory. It’s very important that all people have their own personal space, as everyone needs an area that is his own. The personal zone is generally a few feet and the social zone is three to ten feet. The social zone refers to the space between strangers who are communicating.

Red body language:

  • Keep their distance from others.
  • Have powerful handshakes.
  • Lean forward aggressively.
  • Use direct eye contact.
  • Use controlling gestures.

Red’s tone of voice is often strong. They are always in the hurry. Even in speech and actions.

Yellow body language:

  • They are tactile.
  • They are relaxed and jocular.
  • Show friendly eye contact.
  • Use expressive gestures.
  • Often come close.

Their body language is often very open and inviting. They move quickly and distinctively. Personal space is a relative thing with them. Eye contact is not a problem. Voice is full of laughter, fun, intensity, enthusiasm, joy and energy. They are still fast, but not as fast as Reds.

Green body language:

  • They are relaxed and come close.
  • Act methodically.
  • Tend to lean backwards.
  • Use very friendly eye contact.
  • Prefer small-scale gestures.

They are often sluggish in body movement. They don’t feel at ease in big groups. They are quite neutral. Their voice will never be strong. And they have a slower pace.

Blue body language:

  • They prefer to keep others at a distance.
  • Either stand or sit.
  • Often have closed body language.
  • Use direct eye contact.
  • Speak without gestures.

They have almost no body language. They can make dramatic statements with no facial expression. They require large amount of personal space. They move less than others. Their speech speed is slow.

Adaption – How to Handle Idiots

Flexibility is called Emotional intelligence or Emotional Quotient (EQ).

You will always be in the minority. Most of the people you encounter will be different from you.

What Red Expects from you? He wants you to be quick. They want you to tell them what you want. No small talk with Reds. They live in the present. Stick to the topic.  They are not here to be your pals. They are the easiest to sell to. No hesitation with Reds.

Don’t allow them to walk over you. Show that your work hard. No details for them, if you want details, show them why they are important. They want to hurry. They are not concerned about risks. And they can sacrifice relationship for results.

What Yellow expects of you? They are not afraid of conflict, but they will avoid it if possible. Keeping their interest is not easy. Details are also no go. Always start with a big question with them. Yellows don’t care about how things work, only that they work. For them it must fell right. Facts are not so important. He has a high tolerance for uncertainty. They are focused on latest and greatest. They are earl adopters. They are good in crowds. They are susceptible to flattery. They are the worst listener. You need to know what is the message when you talk with them and what response you need from them. They are optimists regarding time. Organizing things is not their strength. They are strong on ego. They talk more than they work. You need to be diplomatic with them. They don’t deal good with criticism. Clarity is the key in giving them feedback.

What Green expects of you? Security will always be important to them.  Help them to face their fears. Especially on the unknown. They feel better when they don’t have to be active. Allow them their period of peace, quiet, and inactivity. They value predictability and stability. They don’t take initiative. Ask them to do things, don’t debate. They are not leadership material. And they don’t like change.

What Blue expects of you? Being Blue is a little like doing military service. No excuses will be allowed. Blue customers don’t ask questions to find things out; they ask to confirm what they already know. Stick to the task. Work with checklists. Put daydreams and visions aside when you are with Blues. Details are essential when you communicate with them. Prepare. Remind them sometimes that other people have feelings. Don’t hurry them. No gut feeling for them.

Red ask what, Yellow who, Blue why, Green how.

How to Deliver Really Bad News

Reds are the best at delivering news that no one wants to hear.

You don’t need any great skill to give negative feedback to a Red. The only thing you need is a Kevlar vest and fire-resistant hair. No decorative wrapping for them. They will blame others for failures. Don’t play along when Reds get angry. There will be fight, so make sure you do negative feedback on your good day.

Yellow are great at many things. Among their great attributes is their love of changes. Ideally, they’d change things all the time. Criticizing a Yellow is difficult because they take things personally. Yellows are the most difficult to change actually. They don’t listen and only implement changes that they themselves have thought about.

Criticizing the Green can be cruel. They will feel bad and will simply withdraw and shut down. A Green hears what you’re saying and dislikes what he hears. It is all about clarity again. But you need to be soft. Dealing with Green is like dealing with young children. Make sure you are both in agreement about what the problem is.

With Blue make sure you have all the facts when you are giving them negative feedback. Use also arguments from other people if they have them. And document them. What you need to do is point to specific accurate and detailed examples. Don’t use the sandwich method, since no one will understand your message. They will not buy what you said straightaway. It is difficult to criticize a perfectionist.

Who Gets Along and Why it Works

A group should consist of all colors to create the best possible dynamic. They Yellow comes up with a new idea, the Red makes the decision, the Green has to do all the work, and the Blue evaluates and makes sure that the results are excellent. But that is now always true.

It’s generally easier for two people to work together if they have the same sense of tempo and work at a similar speed. Blue and Green can be a suitable combination. Also Red and Yellow (they want to work fast), Yellow and Green (curios about each other) and Blue and Red (task oriented). Red and Green is not working and Blue and Yellow.

It is easy to recognize person with only one color. Two can be detected. But if they have three, then it is hard to determine persons colors.

Written communication

Many things are revealed in the way we write. Different colors have distinct writing styles, some take the time to express themselves, while others keep brief.

What Makes as Mad as Hell

Anger is a good and exciting gauge by which to judge a person’s color.

A Red’s strength is that when they explode, they rid themselves of any anger or irritation they’ve been feeling. They erupt briefly, but it doesn’t last.

Even Yellow loses his temper. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But it will happen gradually. Due to their memory, they don’t hold grudges for long.

You may never have seen a Green lose his temper. It just means that instead of turning his temper outwards, it’s oriented in another dimension, inwards. They do suffer burnouts.

Blue simply have less need to communicate than Greens. So, they simply don’t do it. Some things are turned inwards even for Blues. Because a Blue isn’t sufficiently active to instigate something, he’ll argue about things rather than doing something about them.

Stress Factors and Energy Thieves

Anger is one thing. Stress is another. Sometimes one is a consequence of the other, but now always.

Colors don’t affect how does stress affect you, but they do say something about what stresses you and how you’ll react to it.

Red and stress:

  • Take every form of authority away.
  • Achieve no results whatsoever.
  • Eliminate any kind of challenge.
  • Wast time and resources and work as inefficiently as possible.
  • Make sure that everything becomes a routine.
  • Make a bunch of stupid mistakes.
  • Give him no control over others.
  • Tell him regularly to cool down or to lower his voice.

Yellow and stress:

  • Pretend he’s invisible.
  • Become very skeptical.
  • Structure work as much as possible.
  • Isolate him from the rest of the group.
  • Make clear that it’s inappropriate to joke at work.
  • Push him to think beforehand, twice.
  • Continuously squabble and fuss about insignificant things.
  • Try a little public humiliation.

Green and stress:

  • Take every form of security away from him.
  • Leave lots of loose ends.
  • Hang around him constantly.
  • Make lightning-fast changes and unexpected changes of direction.
  • Ask him “Would you be so good as to redo the whole thing from beginning to end”.
  • Tell him “Look here, we can’t agree on absolutely everything”.
  • Push him into the spotlight.

Blue and stress:

  • Tell him “You don’t know what you’re talking about”.
  • Have management team make a spontaneous decision.
  • Tell him “This could be risky or uncertain, but we’re going to go ahead anyway”.
  • Surprise him with something like “Your in-laws are coming over unannounced”.
  • Tell him “Forget about the bureaucracy, let’s innovate”.
  • Remind him, that we need to take bigger risks.
  • Surround him with overly emotional people.

A Short Reflection Through History

Hippocrates believed that your health is good when the four humors – blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm – are in balance.

The Aztecs tried to divide people in categories, using something they knew well: the four elements: fire, air, earth and water.

William Moulton Marston created a systolic blood pressure test that was used in an attempt to detect fraud. In 1928 he published Emotions of Normal People. He was also responsible for DISA model (A is analytical ability). Dominance, inspiration, submission and compliance – called DISC.

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