The four types of human behaviour and how to understand them.
Was your response to that question a big YES? Of course, it was. Why is it that some people understand you without you even opening your mouth whilst others seem to be on a completely different planet to you? This is what Thomas Erikson explains in his international bestseller, ‘surrounded by idiots.’
Erikson explains that people’s behaviour can be characterised into 4 different colours: red, yellow, green and blue. People who are mainly green or green combined with one other colour are the most common and entirely red or red with one other colour are the least common. The majority of people (80%) have a combination of 2 colours that affect their behaviour. Around 5% have only 1 colour that dominates and the rest are dominated by 3 colours.
Goal orientated extroverts
Reds are dominant and love to take charge. They are fast paced, make quick decisions and are not afraid of taking risks. This can make them seem controlling and impatient. They are strong-willed, ambitious, competitive and don’t easily give-up. They have an opinion on everything, and everyone needs to know it. They can come across as aggressive, argumentative, blunt and rash.
People orientated extroverts
Yellows are enthusiastic and can light up any room with their wit, charm, energy and optimism. They never fail to provide others with entertainment and are the happy-go-lucky ones. They are creative, think outside of the box and are likely to follow feelings instead of reason and rationality. They can also come across as chaotic, egotistical and self-centred. They LOVE to talk and are good at it. They can convince you into believing the wildest things which can be inspiring. But they are terrible listeners and can be accused of living in their own world with their wild imagination. They focus on the future and have 10 things on the go at the same time so never finish tasks.
People orientated Introverts
Greens are easy-going, considerate, tolerant and reliable. They genuinely care about others and so will always offer to help if you need it. They get on with things quietly, calmly and avoid any conflict at all costs to maintain the peace. They strive for stability so hate change. They can come across as lazy, gullible, indecisive, insecure and even two-faced; they won’t say it to your face but will happily vent and not hold back when talking about you with someone they trust.
Task orientated Introverts
The analytical blues love facts, problem-solving, structure and organisation. They carefully think through every decision and make rational/ logical decisions. A blue will never talk just for the sake of talking, but when they do say something, you can be certain its correct. They won’t do/say things to show off- blues doesn’t care about approval from others, if he knows he’s rights, that’s good enough for him. They can come across as dull, serious. They are very cautious so can be seen as indecisive. Blues are the realists- some may read this as pessimists and critical – as they will point out the risks and errors.
Have you worked out which one, or two, you or others around you might be yet?
There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ colours. The aim of the book is to make it easier for us to communicate and understand each other. Afterall, misunderstanding someone’s behaviour and intentions can be disastrous. The book also helps to make us more self-aware of our own behaviour. It’s simplistic and dangerous to automatically characterise someone who behaves differently to you as wrong, ignorant, weird or an idiot. Erikson states that instead, it is very useful to understand why the person reacts the way he does and his point of view. This is essential in the world of work and life in general. We need to appreciate and respect each colour’s strengths and weaknesses as each has immense value but also learn to adapt appropriately to each other to maintain cohesion and achieve our personal and shared goals. All the colours need to learn to compromise when working in a team. They need to meet each other in the middle or toes will be trampled on and feelings will be hurt.
So, how do you communicate with each colour according to Erikson?
Reds: Stick to the point. They’re not very patient. They want to complete a set task and they want to do it fast so speed up if you can. Everyone could use a red’s focus and determination. But reds also need to realise rushing everything is not always the best way. Sometimes details are important, and they need to be patient with people and careful with others’ feelings.
Yellows: Yellows require patience. They don’t think in a straight line. Allow them their space but if they start to wander, bring them back on track. They react badly if you try to control them though. Yellows need positivity around them- they struggle around negativity. Everyone could use a yellow’s optimism and creativity. Yellows could do with listening more to others instead of doing all the talking.
Greens: Be friendly and listen when they speak. Give them time and encouragement. You won’t get a straight-forward answer with them- maybe ask them again when you’re alone. They hate conflict or aggression so acting pushy will make them close themselves off to you. Everyone could use a Green’s kindness and support. A green could do with believing in themselves and their opinions.
Blues: They like their personal space- physically and psychologically and will open up to you in their own time. Blues are perfectionists so give them time but also a little nudge every now and again because to them- nothing is ever perfect. Make sure you know your facts before making claims because they will question it. If you make errors, they will judge you. Everyone could use a Blue’s emphasis on rationality, quality and organisation. Blues could do with understanding that not every plan/thing has to be perfect.
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