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Thursday, January 14, 2010

T3 - Golden Retriever/Phlegmatic Personality Type

Before we get started, I want to reiterate that most people have one dominate personality type and one (possibly two) secondary type(s). Even if you are an off-the-chart Lion or Otter, Golden Retriever might be one of your secondary types, so read on to see what you might can learn about that part of yourself. Please remember, these are generalities, not set in stone. :)


Golden Retrievers, also called Phlegmatic, are the "sweethearts" of the personality types. Calm, dependable, loyal, good-natured, easy to get along with...just like the dog breed. These individuals are patient, well-balanced, consistent, quiet but witty, sympathetic, and kind. When it comes to emotions, they typically keep everything hidden. They are very low-key, and love to putter around their house.

One who is phlegmatic is typically a very competent and steady worker. They get along well with coworkers, are good administrators, mediators, and conflict-avoiders (which can also be a problem, though!). They are good with routines, work well under pressure and deadlines, and usually find the "easy" way to do something. If working within a team, these are the people who will ensure follow-through and offer tons of support. As a leader, they will delegate daily decisions to others, support by listening and will always strive for harmony. They aren't going to consciously try to hurt anyone or ever stir up a controversy at work (or anywhere). To recover from stress, they typically just want to sleep, but they also will go for mindless "down time" to recover.

Their friends typically will call them pleasant, enjoyable to be around, inoffensive, good listeners, compassionate and concerned. A Golden Retriever usually likes to watch people and utilize their dry sense of humor. Typically, they have many friends because their are so reliable and committed to keeping the peace.

Spiritually, these people are the deep wells. They know how to be still and listen to God, so their relationship reflects a deeper understanding of matters of faith. They have depth and insight because of their great inner discipline to apply themselves to what they do. When a Golden Retriever surrenders to Christ, they do so only drawing a minimum of attention to themselves. Their commitment is solid and sincere and they give tremendously loyal and faithful years of service to God. These are the ones who love to serve the body of believers because they love the body of believers.


For all our personality types, when you have too much of a good thing, it can be a bad thing. When you take just about any characteristic to the Nth degree, you can have some pitfalls, so lets examine some of them.

Emotionally, the Golden Retriever/Phlegmatic is a bit selfish and unenthusiastic. They may be overly fearful or worried and usually are indecisive. They might fall more to the shy and reticent group, and usually are far too passive and compromising. The reason for this? They are so worried about keeping the peace. They will avoid conflict at whatever the cost--personal or professional. They find it difficult to express their emotions and can be too soft on other people.

At work, this individual is likely not too goal-oriented. They probably did okay in school, but just never did more than was required. Typically, they lack self-motivation and resent being pushed in any direction, even in one they know is good for them and were thinking about taking anyway. They can sometimes be lazy, careless, hard to get moving, and sideline watchers instead of doers. They don't like change and can be very stubborn. According to Smalley and Trent, to Christian counselors, the motto of the Golden Retriever is, "Let's keep things the way they are."

Couldn't resist the adorable pic of the kitty cat looking all lazy and unmotivated! I know it's not a Golden Retriever, but it just fit so well!

With their friends, the Phlegmatic can sometimes dampen the enthusiasm of others because they are so hard to get excited about anything. They are indifferent to plans and resist change. They also can be judgmental, sarcastic, and teasing.

Spiritually, these servant-oriented people will sometimes make martyrs of themselves due to all their service. "Woe-is-me-look-at-all-I've-done" type of attitude isn't uncommon. They can be a tad on the self-righteous side, as well. Their spirituality can be so deep that from their view, the spirituality of everyone else pales in comparison.


Golden Retrievers work well in limited situations with a steady work pattern. As long as they receive steady affirmation and don't have a lot of changes, they'll thrive. If it fits your story better, though, throw a kink in their well-ordered day as the inciting incident for your book.

A Phlegmatic really needs time to prepare for changes--emotional, physical, geographical--so writers should give it to them if they want a well-adjusted character and don't give it to them if you really want to throw them for a loop.

Wordle: signature


Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Oh, I am soooo a golden retriever! Seriously, it is me to a fault! It was good to see how the good of this personality can be a bad thing, for I needed to see it in ME!!! And yep, the challenges of this personality are REAL!

As a writer, I wondered how my personality affected my writing. Really, I wondered if my need for approval and my tendency toward "laziness" would hinder me being a writer in the long-haul. I know I have a lot of work ahead of me to overcome some of these hurdles.

GREAT post today, Jeannie! Thanks for sharing from your vast store of knowledge!

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Congratulations about CFOM! I'm going to have to read about the other animals. Tamika linked to you the other day about being an otter...hmmm. I think I'm them all smashed together. ;) No, I'm sure I have a dominate one. Just have to look into it a bit.
~ Wendy

Maureen said...

So that's the reason my son is content to stay in his room for hours!!! I thought it was getting to be a problem but maybe it's just the way he is.

These personality types are deeply ingrained, right? What are the chances of someone actually switching from one type to another?

Tamika: said...

Jeannie, you cannot begin to know how this blessed me today. I took your test to my Mission group last night and our ladies each took it- so fun! But my daughter was with me and she took it as well for fun. I found that she is a Golden Retriever.

We are having some major problems with her right now, and just this morning I cannot stop weeping at the decline in her attitude. This assessment helps put a lot of things in perspective. I will share this with my husband this evening before we sit her down for a long talk.

Please keep us in your prayers.

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

oh wow...this is wonderful! i'm so glad that this series is helping people.

tamika - will definitely keep you in my prayers. i pray that the Lord keeps your daughter's heart open for this discussion you want to have.

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

maureen - they are pretty deeply ingrained. however, it's not unheard of for a person to change types in adulthood. it seems that when this happens, the person was generally strong in two areas but switched dominance. it's usually not some huge switch to the opposite.

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

sherrinda - i'm glad you got some insight for yourself here. you can definitely be a golden retriever writer...the key for you will be to find the right motivation that hits your sweet spot of productivity.

Darcie said...

I seriously had to stop my husband on the way out the door to work so he could read this. I didn't tell him I had taken the quiz, but just simply asked him what he thought about it. His reply..."It sounds just like you." It was almost eerie reading this, but yet so helpful to really dig a little deeper into just who I am.

Thanks a million!

SM Blooding said...

At work, I'm a lion. In my personal life, I'm the Golden Retriever and I DO the self-sacrificing, martyr thing. *eye roll* THAT needs to stop!

This is way cool!


Jessica Nelson said...

OH LOL! I can't believe how much this is me. Years ago I took this test and I really wanted to be the melancholy personality. You know, a deep well, artistic, passionate. Imagine my disappointment when my test announced me a stolid, blah phlegmatic. LOL I had forgotten over time which one I tested as until I did your linked one. Now you actually make me feel kind of glad to be my easygoing, somewhat boring self. Heehee! Thanks so much for this! Did you say what you are yet?

Jemi Fraser said...

I showed up as a tie between this and beaver. You say most people only have one. Hmmm...

Well, I've always been a little different! Some of these traits match to a T though :)

Jean said...

I love reading your posts. This one matches me to a T. I've been working on some of the not-so-goods, so I guess that makes me a recovering Golden Retriever.

Sarah Forgrave said...

My personality is split between Golden Retriever and whatever animal a melancholy is. Most of the things you described in this post fit me to a T. I'm a sideline watcher who married a doer, and that can make for some interesting conflict. But in the end, I think we balance each other out very well.

Anita said...

Oh man...that cat photo with the headline mad me laaaaauggh!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

I see myself in this in many ways, Jeannie. Overkill at times, but like you said, this is general.

I've been missing your posts for too long. Thanks for running this series.

Unknown said...

I've done personality studies before, so recognize this one as mostly me (though given the opportunity, I have Otter which is coming out more as I get older, and a bit of the Lion.) One of my MC's mirrors a great deal of the Golden Retriever, but she's more driven than I am, so has a lot of Lion.

I can definitely agree that most of the weaknesses mentioned describe me. I get paralyzed when I have to make a big decision, then after I've made it, will second-guess myself a lot. And I have trouble staying motivated. One of the few things I don't have problems in is my writing, though a bad critique can set me back a few days if I let it get to me.

Thanks for your insight!

Hannah L. said...

Does anyone else find that Retrievers tend to make less interesting main characters to write? I've had to shift more than one of my characters towards a more excessive personality.

Anonymous said...

The Golden seems to fit me to a tee. MY wife is a lion and I am a Golden... It seems that these are two personalty types are at two different spectrums. How can there be a balance?

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

anonymous 5-26-11,

you have to find commonality in the less rigid and fixed parts of both of your personalities. it's not impossible! the phlegmatic does balance the and of themselves.

nascarccmgrlfan said...

I'm mainly a mix of lion and otter, but this might be some golden retriever in me. Beaver, I'm only the smallest trace. I do have depth.

Anonymous said...

Actually stumbled on this article as I was looking for help regarding my daughter. She is 15 and definitely showing some phlegmatic tendencies. Would appreciate advise on how to motivate her especially academically. She is smart but fir the most part, can't be bothered. She is also a fun loving, out going type.

I need help so I can help her release her potentials. Thanks Jeanie

Anonymous said...

`Hi there please can you tell me the name of the artist of your lovely sleeping Golden Retriever Print or where you got it I think it lovely. Thank you for an interesting post :)

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