Temperament VIII: analysts. Challenges and Opportunities

In this series of blogs I have been presenting “temperament theory,” namely the understanding of personality in terms of what has been called “temperament” for many centuries. My own terms for the various temperaments are mine alone having been developed over the 50-odd years that I have been in practice. I readily admit that I have learned much from others in the field of personality, psychology, and other diverse fields, information that I have integrated into my own understanding of a four-part temperament system. Readers may wish to peruse my previous blogs on temperament for specifics of the other temperaments. The system I propose is composed of “lovers,” “caretakers,” “players,” and “analysts.” Importantly, everyone has elements of all of these temperaments, but there is a tendency for people to primarily reside in one of these four and perhaps secondarily in another one, or even two, often leaving one of the temperaments to the side. 

Our current discussion is in regard to the “analyst” temperament. In my previous blog on analysts I identified them as problem-centered, namely problem-preventing and problem-solving. They are the people who seek to make the world a better place by finding problems and preventing possible problems. Theirs is a life directed towards truth in all that it means, namely some kind of absolute truth based on fact, theory, and deduction. Some of the most important people in the world have been analysts, namely those who have found it necessary to figure out how the world can be understood and improved in one way or another. Often they turn out to be scientists who have the privilege of analyzing and improving the world in very theoretical ways or in very practical ways. More often than not, however, analysts are simply just folks who work a “day job” in some way but really have passion for making things better. The result of this passion to improve the world often leads to difficulties, particularly social difficulties, but there are an equal number of opportunities that analyst have if they can find ways to avail themselves of these opportunities:

The challenges that analysts face in life

The social aspect of life is the greatest challenge. Analysts are not particularly likable for the most part. Part of this is due to the fact that social engagement has never been a central theme for analysts. In this way they have often not developed a social skill, much less a social ability to talk and listen to what people want to talk about. So they tend to be less versed in what we might think of as simple talk about the weather, or how a sports team is doing, or some off-handed comment about the current political situation. They actually don’t care much about such things because they don’t care much about trivial facts, and care even less about feelings. But most social conversation is comprised of about an equal amount of facts and feelings, neither of which intrinsically is interesting to the analyst. Analysts are not so much disliked as they are tolerated. They can speak, and can speak with aplomb, but if they speak, they tend to dominate the conversation relating information or theory, or perhaps what is wrong with something.

It is in the speaking of “what is wrong about something” that makes for some of their lack of social development. While their analysis and problem is based on their desire to make the world a better place, they often sound critical. They sound critical because they tend to say much more about what is wrong than what is right about something. Think of it this way: they are always looking to solve problems, problems to solve, so they look for what is wrong about something and comment on it, often with some kind of solution to the problem that they see. These comments can be about a sports team where the coach that didn’t do the right thing, a politician didn’t do the right thing, or a friend who didn’t do the right thing. The sports team coach might not hear, or even care what the “Monday morning quarterback” might say about how he coached his team, and the politician is even farther afield from his analyst constituent. But the friend, spouse, or other family member might not take kindly to the analyst’s analysis of him or her. It bemuses, and to some degree confuses the analyst when his/her analysis of someone is taken “the wrong way,” i.e. become offended. Why should someone be offended when you are simply trying to make life better for your friend or family member? Again, the disregard of feelings, particularly feelings of hurt, sadness, or fear, seems to elude the analyst who might be right in what he/she has to say, but wrong in the timing or the words chosen in the analysis. All of this lack of social development can lead to a good deal of loneliness on the part of the analyst.

Indeed, analysts are often lonely. When asked who their friends are, analysts often say something between zero and one, and then add that “the one” is not really a friend. Because their orientation is towards making the world a better place, they often lead a life that is solitary. Solitary not always by choice, but as a result of having never developed a good enough social ability to be able to make, keep, and enhance friendships. So how can they successfully engage the world with this social baggage?

Opportunities for a successful life for analysts

The primary way analysts need to approach life is to first and foremost affirm their analytical nature, namely their desire to make the world a better place and make people better. This is a true noblesse oblige, which is the heart of being altruistic. In fact, I think that despite their rough social appearance, analysts are the most altruistic of the four temperament, even more than the lovers that we have studied who are always looking for “connections.” Analysts don’t look for connections because that probably seems selfish, but rather they look for improving things even if they do not see the improvement. I once heard from a physicist researcher who has been working on controlling nuclear fusion for 20 years, expected to work on it for another 30 years without every controlling fusion, and depending on people 50 years hence to finish the work. This guy is truly altruistic with no visible financial or personal reward, much less any kind of social reward. So, if you’re an analyst, realize you are a good person trying to make the world a better place.

Analysts need to know that most of people’s lives revolves around relationships, and that these relationships revolve around feelings, particularly the joys and sorrows that come from loving something. So, analysts need to take notice of the centrality of feelings in most people and find a way to relate to people’s feelings. Along the way, hopefully, the come to recognize their own feelings and slowly find ways to express these feelings. Know this, all you analysts out there: you won’t be very good at the whole feeling thing, and you won’t want to do it, wanting as you do, to stick to facts and theory. But learning the whole realm of feelings can slowly become a meaningful part of how you operate in the world, especially with people, but also when you are alone in your thoughts…and feelings.

Finally, analysts need to find a vocation that serves their analyst nature if at all possible. Sometimes, this is not possible because of financial, geographical, or family necessities, but analysts should look for work where their analytical nature can be valued and used effectively. Some analysts are able to tailor their work and professions into more of an analytical sphere, like being a teacher who works more on creating new teaching techniques than actual teaching, or a brick layer who finds her/his way into some kind of creativity for the company possibly bringing in new business because of his/her new ideas.

The very hardest thing for analysts to do is to establish friendships. Most analysts that I know, especially if there are also introverted by nature, have zero friends and get by with their own research, problem-solving, and analysis. This might be good enough for some people, but it isn’t good enough for most people. So, thinking about friendship is the beginning, and then the finding and perhaps even creating friends is the work of a lifetime, but a work that is really valuable, and in most cases necessary.

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