In the last post, I started talking about character profiles, based on the book How Can I Get Through to You by Dr. Glen Foster and Mary Marshall. The whole concept of character profiling like this is really interesting, not only because it helps you get to know your characters better but it also opens all sorts of doors to help you understand the other people in your life too.
The first character profile to tackle is the Feeler. I said in the last post that Feelers make up about 50% of the population and are usually women. For grins, I sat down with 27 of my main characters (yes, this epic series I’ve been writing for 20 years has that many) and 14 of them are Feelers, with 8 of those 14 being female. I thought that was funny.
Dr. Foster’s book includes a ten-minute look profiling chart that helps you spot the different personality types. It also can help you know how the different personality types will react in certain situations.
Here is how you can spot a Feeler:
Feelers like to blend in. They prefer to wear warm, neutral, earthy or subdued tones in styles that don’t reveal too much, either of their presence, their opinions, or their bodies.
On entering a room, a Feeler will be serious and reserved, not talking a lot, but will be concerned about making sure everyone else is comfortable.
In their initial conversation or approach, a Feeler will be happiest with non-controversial small talk.
In their initial attitude toward you, a Feeler will demonstrate a friendly, warm nature, non-agressive and non-confrontational.
In the first few moments you speak to them, a Feeler will come off as a private person, not pushy in the least and is perfectly happy to take a back seat in a conversation. They appear to be happiest in small groups and stay away from expressing their personal point of view in case it might upset someone.
Any of your characters sounding familiar yet? Remember, Feeler is a base, core personality type. A full-fledged personality will be wrapped in personal history, so there can be combinations of all four personality types in one person, but everyone will have a base type.
If the first set of identifiers aren’t setting off any alerts, maybe the second set will. The next identification chart deals with how people react under stress or how they act when they are in conflict.
The Feeler in Conflict:
The demeanor or image a Feeler will present is emotional, since Feelers make decisions based on the way they feel. They are slower to react to conflict than other personality types and will be defensive of the situation. They doubt their own courage and hate conflict of any sort.
A Feeler’s method of attack is primarily defensive, reacting to a conflict rather than instigating it. When the conflict first breaks out, a Feeler will lapse into a state of denial because it’s easier to imagine it’s not happening at all than to face conflict itself. A Feeler will be overly serious and will listen intently, patiently trying to understand your position and reasoning before striking back. A Feeler may agree with you just to defuse the argument. When they are forced to attack, they won’t do it head-on, but usually from the side. They will store up comments for counterattacks instead of constantly interjecting.
A Feeler’s emotional response to conflict is all-consuming. They can’t handle emotional stress or any degree of anger aimed at them. If they consider the conflict to be unfair, they’ll go to pieces. They draw into themselves and shut down rather than using theatrics or loudness or anger.
A Feeler’s intellectual response to conflict is bargaining. Their emotions distort their ability to think logically and they often have to go on their gut instincts. If another personality type doesn’t match their mood or tone, it won’t compute with them at this point. A Feeler craves to be validated for who he or she is as a person.
A Feeler’s physical response usually reveals pronounced body language, indicating a varying emotional state. Primary eye movement will be to the left.
Do any of your characters match up to this?
I was shocked as I read through these things the first time because I have four characters who fit each personality type perfectly. I’ll go ahead and share a little about each of these characters so you can see what I’m talking about. The character’s name is Ryan Lewis. Ryan and his buddies are part of the series I’ve been writing since I was 11. The best genre I’ve been able to assign to it is epic urban fantasy, and it’s probably more YA than anything else.
Ryan is a Feeler.
I’ve always had a hard time getting Ryan to take charge of the rest of his team, and I could never figure out why until I realized his personality type doesn’t like being in control of anything. But Ryan is the leader. And he must be the leader because if the team is led by one of the other personalities, they’re going to cause more damage than they stop.
The product of an abusive alcoholic home, Ryan learns peacemaking at a very young age and usually tries to sort everything out between people before he weighs in on any opinions. Even though he feels intensely, he’s not good at making his feelings known, which is a source of frustration for the people around him. He knows he needs to be leading, so he forces himself to sound like a leader when he really just wants to stay in the background.
Ryan isn’t academic. School has never been his favorite pastime, and he prefers to be outside working on something he can actually see results in, whether it’s building a deck or working in a garden. His anger manifests through intense moments of guilt and self-deprecation. He learned to use his anger constructively, to bury himself in physical work and outdoor projects. He never really hated his father because he could remember when he was a good man; he mainly just felt sad for him. At his core, Ryan blames himself for his father’s behavior and feels like he should have done more to support him after his mother died. When pushed to the breaking point, Ryan has a temper. But it erupts quickly and fades even faster, and after he explodes he feels worse than he did before he got angry.
He is always trying to keep the peace among his crazy brood of teammates, which takes an enormous amount of effort because none of them get along at first. He’s responsible for a condescending Elitist (Sam Logan), a reclusive Analyzer (Ronnie Akkard), an irresponsible Driver (Karl Goodson, who I mentioned in the last post), and another Feeler (Stan Hawthorne) who is really too young to weigh in on anything yet. When they are at each others’ throats, he despairs because he feels like he needs to be doing a better job at leading. When he perceives that he has failed them, he isn’t sure how to make amends because he doesn’t know how to communicate with them on a level they can understand. But when he tries to communicate, he usually ends up compromising his own desires and feelings because more than anything he wants them all to get along and love each other.
The team means everything to him. It’s the family he never had. And if he perceives they feel he has failed them, he shuts down.
That’s Ryan. I always have related to him, but I never really understood why until now. Because I am a Feeler too, usually pushed into leadership positions out of necessity.
I hope this has been a helpful forray into the mind of a Feeler. Next time, we’ll delve into the exciting world of the Driver.