One of the things I am LOVING about getting this People Smarts stuff out there is the feedback I’m getting from readers. Your input is helping me so much to sharpen this stuff up, so thank you to everyone who is taking the time to interact with this, I know how busy we all are.

I want to thank Nu for asking me this question over email:

“I’m curious how your work may compare to the countless other methods/tests”

It’s a great question, and it prompted me to really think about it. Here’s what I came up with so far:


Here’s some of the main differences:

  1. People Smarts isn’t based on guesswork or ‘psychological fads’. It’s underpinned by real science, much of which has been tested, refined and proved over many decades, that people’s personalities react to stress in four specific ways, namely:
    1. FIGHT
    2. FLIGHT
    3. FREEZE
    4. FAWN
  2. People Smarts is also based on the much greater holistic understanding of the human psyche that had been developed in the ancient world, and subsequently forgotten about. When the ancient Greeks and the ancient Hebrews wrote about human beings consisting of four elements, they were talking about the human mind, the human personality, the human soul, not necessarily the human body. The ancient world was far more focused on the inner dimension than our uber-materialistic, technology-focused modern world. The ancient world described the four main aspects of the human personality in natural terms, namely:
    1. FIRE
    2. AIR
    3. WATER
    4. EARTH
  3. People Smarts synthesizes the real science about the four stress responses, with the ancient world’s holistic wisdom about how the human psyche really functions, to come up with the four building blocks of personality, namely:
    1. MOTIVATION
    2. CONNECTION
    3. PHILOSOPHICAL THINKING
    4. BUILDING

While all of us have a dominant ‘personality’ mode, every person can still access the traits and characteristics contained in a different personality building block, albeit with a lot of self-awareness about how we really operate, as people, and a lot of commitment to trying to ‘balance’ our stress reactions out in an optimal way, while still developing our innate talents and abilities.


People Smarts recognizes that personality is fluid and changeable.

This is probably the single biggest difference between this system, and others. People Smarts doesn’t try to stick people into permanent boxes, and it doesn’t buy into the idea that we can’t change our unhelpful responses to stress etc ‘because that’s just how we are’. Over time, how we react to stress can change and ameliorate, especially once we understand what’s really causing the unhelpful reactions at the subconscious (physiological) level.

What this means in practice, is that personality can and does change over time – both for the best and also for the worse. For example, if someone is subject to tremendous stress like a serious illness, betrayal by someone who is close to them, great loss, or some other situation where their sense of the world being a safe place was shattered, this can and does have a severe impact on their personality.

For example, serious trauma that isn’t properly recognized and dealt with can trip off an out-of-control FIGHT stress response in an easy-going BUILDER personality that can cause them to become a manipulative, angry and determined to put themselves first at every opportunity.

At the other end of the spectrum, if someone makes a commitment to learning about how their personality is currently configured, they may decide that they want to consciously work on cultivating other traits, and a different way of doing things.

It’s easier to show what I’m talking about with a real-life example.

A few years ago, I would probably have come out as a very unbalanced MOTIVATOR-PHILOSOPHER personality who was constantly over-reacting to the enormous stress in my life by alternating between rage fits (FIGHT) and massive depressions (FREEZE).

The shrinks tried to label my physiological reactions to overwhelming stress with labels like ‘manic depression’ and ‘bipolar’. Really? I had some enormous, ongoing trauma going on from childhood, that I had never properly recognized and dealt with.

Once I started doing that work, and really understanding where all my negative and unhelpful ‘reactions’ were coming from, that meant I could start to make some choices about who I was spending my time with, and how my relationships were playing out. Again, that can be very hard work, as dysfunctional people tend to hang out with other dysfunctional people, which means the stress levels are usually through the roof, and everyone is sparking everyone else off.

But by the end of that ‘sorting’ process, I’d let go of a whole bunch of toxic people, and I was also far more aware of the toxic ‘elements’ in myself and in my remaining relationships, that needed to be acknowledged, and ultimately improved. As a result, my stress levels dropped radically, and the triggers that were causing my rage fits and depressions practically disappeared.


When I took the People Smarts quiz a couple of weeks ago, I was really interested to see that I’m now more of a PHILOSOPHER-MOTIVATOR instead. And the more I can handle my stress appropriately, the more the positive side of that personality typology will start to come out in the world.

People Smarts also showed me, though, that I need to do some serious work to strengthen my BUILDER side more, which is currently almost non-existent.

BUILDER traits like superficiality, making peace, and having an interest in the more practical and materialistic aspects of the world really don’t come easily to me. But after doing the quiz myself, I can see that I would benefit from having more of those aspects in my life, so I now recognize that BUILDING is something I need to work on, more.

People Smarts can teach people to identify how stressful experiences may be affecting their personality and relationships in a negative way – and then also give them clear guidance on how to channel that stress in a more positive direction, and to get back to a place of being more ‘balanced’ again.

Another difference with People Smarts is that it doesn’t make value judgments on which personality block is ‘better’ than any other.

Human beings need access to all four personality blocks, in order to function at their maximum potential, and each personality type has its unique strengths, as well as its particular challenges to deal with. There are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers with People Smarts, just useful information about where we’re holding now, and what might be standing in the way of us achieving our full potential in life.

The last point to make, for now, is that People Smarts is dynamic, and it’s about encouraging people to celebrate the good within themselves NOW, while still striving to grow and develop more. Personalities can and do transform, people can blossom, and beautiful regrowth is possible after even the most ravaging circumstances.

It’s this message of realistic hope and optimism about human potential that I think is probably the single biggest thing that differentiates the People Smarts system from the other personality typologies out there. We aren’t stuck, we aren’t ‘fixed’ in one category, or one personality. Balance is available to every single one of us. We just need to know that change is truly possible.


Take the People Smarts Quiz yourself, HERE.

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