…today’s secret…Eliminating prison conflict.

A dead Greek, Hippocrates, identified four primary personalities that have been embraced by screenwriters and novelists around the world.

Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic, and Phlegmatic.

So said Hippocrates.

We are all some combination of his four personalities, each operating at different levels.

Today these four are given new names. You are a One and I’m a Two. You are an Elephant, I’m a Dolphin, You are a Red. I’m a Blue. You are a EN and I’m a IN, etc. But, there are still only four.

Regardless of the labels, those who write for a living understand that two like personalities are immediate friends. Put two Sanguines in a room and they are best of buds. Shakespeare knew this well.

The opposite is also true.

Each personality has its satanic opposite. Put a Sanguine and Melancholic or a Choleric and Phlegmatic in the same room and becoming best buds is just a concept.

So, if you want a hit movie, TV show, or novel the formula is to have four main characters, each of them having a different primary personality.

The thinking is you as the audience will identify with the personality closely aligned with yours and you will keep watching or reading because they are you.

Each of these successful movies and/or TV shows have four characters, one character per basic personality.

The Wizard of Oz; Archie Comics; I Love Lucy; Gilligan’s Island; Star Trek; Magnum P.I.; Friends; Seinfeld; Frasier; The Golden Girls; Sex and The City; Schitt’s Creek; Desperate Housewives; Unbreakable; Big Bang Theory; The Office; Game of Thrones.

Get it? You were one of them.

So, there are over 13,000 prisons in the United States. Prisons are a hotbed of conflict. Put a few thousand men together behind bars for a few years, mix in a diverse group of correctional officers and you see why there is blood in the yard or cell blocks on a daily basis.

I was fortunate years ago to be a part of an informal pilot project where we taught 50 inmates the four personalities and how these personalities interacted positively and negatively with each other. We identified each of the 50 with a badge they wore beside their prison ID.

The results over the next year were that the number of DRs (Disciplinary Reports) reduced dramatically. Inmates know that when they fight among themselves they both lose. They learned quickly to walk away from their opposite badge or work harder to find common ground.

They became so smart about it they started guessing the basic personality of their correctional officers – who they could possibly chum up to or who they should avoid altogether.

Why am I sharing this with you?

You and the people in your organization, and the people you are helping, are some combination of the four basic personalities. You are reality TV without the TV.

Wouldn’t it be nice to understand those four personalities well enough to reduce conflict within your organization…to hire the personalities who best work in your field…to match a participant/applicant with a staff member or mentor they are hardwired to respond to…to know who is ready for change and who is not?

The Department of Corrections was not interested in our informal pilot.

Shame on them.