Understanding People Through Star Trek
Philosophers, psychoanalysts, and leaders have tried to group people into different types of personalities for thousands of years. The most condensed approach uses just 3 different types (Structogram and Triogram, for starters). Defining personality types by Star Trek personalities is my own approach, and I although admit this post is no work of science (neither is Psychology if we heed Dr. Lecter’s opinion) I did borrow heavily from various available sources (details are to be found on the bottom of this post). Please enjoy with a grain of salt, or three.
Whether you’re an old-time Trekker, or a youngster having just entered this wonderful Star Trek universe, you are familiar with the original trio of Kirk, Spock and McCoy.
The common photos showcase the proud Captain flanked by his two sidekicks – as it should be, considering their ranks. However, in my opinion, having McCoy stand in the middle makes more sense in regards to their dynamics and personalities, which I will explain.
This post is about personality types and the way they work, be it by themselves, with their co-workers, under a leader, or being a leader. Please keep in mind that none of these types is considered better or worse than the other, per se; but they are different, just like people.
James T. Kirk
Aaah, yes! Basking in his own glory, Captain Kirk. The quintessential red type:
The Red is the impatient, spontaneous solver. He wants to determine the problem fast, solve it even faster and be of to the next one. Don’t bother him with details.
- He is a quick decision maker, but not necessarily very organized and efficient.
- A good assistant is a must.
- He is charismatic, friendly and energetic, but can be very opinionated on his own turf.
- He is extremely outspoken when he feels he is in the right, and has trouble dealing with people who are dishonest and/or disorderly (Look who’s speaking!). They just rub him wrong.
Kirk is highly productive, realistic and sensible (in his own opinion), but in truth he’s more than a little blunt telling others how he feels about them, or about whatever other faults he sees. Somewhat of an elephant in the china shop. However, when he gives a compliment, he means it.
His primary goal in life is doing the right thing, being in charge, and of course being the first to reach this own goal. He enjoys being appreciated by others and expects to be respected. He also enjoys having others willingly follow his orders, especially people not wearing red shirts.
As a red type he favors sentences wrapping around “I” and “in my opinion”. At least when the screenwriters pay him any attention.
Kirk’s favorite reward in life is having spontaneous adventures and getting things done. He enjoys and lives in the here and now. Who would have guessed that in a Captain who insists on leaving his ship at every chance he gets.
Leonard “Bones” McCoy
I could write a great many pages about the character who infamously coined the phrase: “I’m a doctor, not a [insert job title].” (Bricklayer still being my favorite.) McCoy is generally concerned about others and works hard to be of service. He is a great example of the green personality type:
- He is the helpful and socially oriented philanthropist: friendly, affectionate, outgoing and talkative.
McCoy is polite and inquisitive, and he’s willing to take risks to help others. He enjoys action, no matter how much he might grumble about being pulled away from his duties (of being on stand-by 24/7). But he is also a realist. His bedside manners serve him well, and he is the one in our trio who is most approachable and knowledgeable in all human ways, and some Vulcan ones too.
He builds his success on the past, on experience and knowledge, and not spontaneous decisions. Facts and charts are okay, but at the end it is his intuition and tact which let him tread lightly and motivate people by taking their needs into account.
A green type uses the words “we,” “us,” “team,” and “help” a lot.
McCoy is conscientious, almost to his own undoing at times. He is very sensitive to others and in return gets his own feelings hurt in the process more often than not.
As green personality type his primary goal in life is creating exceptional relationships and helping people in practical ways to his full potential. His reward is to be appreciated and relied upon, as well as to be respected, particularly in regards to his ethics.
Last but not least, my favorite Vulcan, the blue type:
- Generally logical, honest and able to step outside the box (even his own).
- Blue personality types are impatient with pretenders and people who are disorganized, though they are usually too polite to let it show.
- Blues keep their feelings and reactions to themselves, they are usually cautious and quiet. Don’t mistake their silence for disinterest or timidness, though.
- If you want advice from a blue type, you will have to ask. He is not the person who dominates the conference room or makes friends at the lunch table.
- He doesn’t lead by authority or by being liked, he leads by convincing with facts and details, by having a plan.
- He is always thinking ahead, making systematic, and abstract decisions, which makes him a fantastic chess player.
- Some people do find the blue personality type cold, boring, and even arrogant. Especially red personality types have trouble relating, for they are as opposite to blue personality types as fire and ice. The few people who actually put in the effort will find the blue personality type reliable, and they will count on him or her to be there in times of need, even if the rest of the people have already run.
Spock is the loyal and responsible friend you want, though only if you accept him as he is. As a blue personality type, Spock is literal, realistic, and practical. Spock is a hard worker who does very well in highly detailed, analytic situations, as he is careful, calculating, and precise. He is, however, also somewhat resistant to change if he hasn’t had the opportunity to check all the facts, and then approve of them. A blue personality type, like Spock, stays away from forming sentences around pronouns, and he uses indefinite pronouns when he cannot avoid them. Favorite words are “details” and “confirm.”
A blue type’s primary goal in life is to do his job well, and be faithful to his own vision. A blue type’s best reward is to have others trust his plan, and see it bear fruit. He doesn’t just imagine the future, he is already re-arranging it.
So there you have it. This little method of making base judgements about people by their actions has helped me a great deal over the years in building understanding and empathy for certain actions and decisions. Please remember that no person is just one personality type. There is a bit of green in Kirk, and a bit of green in Spock (literally in his case), too. We all are mixtures of all types.
And to the makers of these legends, and to those who keep their legend alive, may you live long and prosper!
As mentioned, here are some of my sources:
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