What are your True Colors? | Our Corner

If I’m gold and you are blue, perhaps that’s why we don’t get along. If you happen to be orange, we probably will never work well together. And if you’re green, we just may not like each other.

If I’m gold and you are blue, perhaps that’s why we don’t get along. If you happen to be orange, we probably will never work well together. And if you’re green, we just may not like each other.

These colorific comparisons stem from a recent venture into the world of True Colors, an exercise designed to determine a person’s personality traits. It has been used for more than three decades to help people identify their own idiosyncrasies and aid in the deciphering of group dynamics.

Or, as I recently described it, New Age Crap.

Crude, yes, but an accurate way to sum up any effort to pigeonhole anything so complex as the human psyche. Then I took the test, heard the results and went through a brief team-building exercise with some fellow Cougar alums during a leadership conference on the Washington State University campus.

I had to admit my feelings toward True Colors changed. Perhaps there’s something to the notion that humans fit neatly into one of four tidy boxes.

After all, as far back as 460 B.C., Hippocrates theorized that people fit one of four “temperments,” offering up the labels of sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic and melancholic.

I sure don’t like the sound of being phlegmatic. I don’t know what it means but still, it makes me uneasy.

Plato, a B.C. contemporary of Hippocrates, bought into the same notion, as have any number of philosophers since.

In the world of True Colors, those of us who are “gold” tend to favor efficiency and dependability. We get the work done, but we’re not particularly flashy. “Blue” folks tend to be great friends, always willing to go the extra mile to help someone in need; “orange” types are all about energy and activity, real seize-the-moment types; and “greens” are the most composed among us, favoring mind over emotion to solve life’s mysteries.

Shedding a bit of natural cynicism, I admit there are nuggets of truth shining through the exercise. It’s easy to look within circles of family and friends and see how these personality types come into play. For most, True Colors could be theme song in the workplace.

Of course, there are myriad other ways to classify people. There are dog lovers vs. cat fanciers, urban dwellers vs. farm folk and, in the simplest division of all, males vs. females. Or, as pointed out in the classic book by John Gray, “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From A Deep, Dark Place Where No One Understands Martian.”

Taking things one step closer to the world of really important things, True Colors has been massaged into an exercise to help understand man’s best friend and match potential owners with their slobbering friends.

Yes, we have True Colors for Canines.

The green group includes a handful of hounds; the orange group has a ton of terriers and the best dog ever, the Labrador retriever; blues include assorted small dogs; and the gold group has breeds like St. Bernards and German shepherds. In today’s dog-eat-dog world, the golds make lunch of the blues.

Dogs in the “blue” category should be shunned because they associate with the American eskimo. It was one of those fluffy, white curs that once ran across a quiet street, leaped into a posterior attack and bit me in a rather meaty, but still delicate, spot. A scar remains that shall only be seen by my wife. And, on truly special occasions, my doctor.

The beauty of True Colors is, in warm-and-fuzzy fashion, there’s no right and wrong. We are what we are. Each can argue that their strengths make for the best all-around individual.

But we all know who tops the list…those who are, indeed, as good as gold.


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