by: Florence Littauer

A little word in kindness spoken,

A motion or a tear,

Has often healed the heart that’s broken,

And made a friend sincere.

Then deem it not an idle thing

A pleasant word to speak;

The face you wear—the thoughts you bring—

The heart may heal or break.

From “A Little Word,” by :Daniel Clement Colesworthy

Frequently people ask, “What if you want to give out silver boxes, but people won’t receive them?” There are several reasons that people may be uncomfortable with compliments:

          1. The compliment doesn’t fit their individual personality pattern.

          2. They’ve been told since childhood that they’re homely, dumb, or dirty.

          3. They were abused as children.

          4. They are going through a difficult time at the moment.

          5. They’ve been told that to accept praise is unspiritual.

Let’s start with the lightest of these reasons for why people won’t accept our joyful words of congratulation. Understanding a person’s personality pattern can help you to know what kind of compliments he or she will welcome. People are not all the same, so many of us make mistakes when we try to give others the kind of compl-iments we want to hear. Then we get hurt when they don’t receive our words with enthusiasm.

Many of you who have read my books Personality Plus, Your Personality Tree, and Raising the Curtain on Raising Children, are well aware of the four basic personalities and have no doubt been using them as guidelines for Getting Along with Difficult People. For those of you who have not become familiar with this simple tool, let me give you a quick review.

 The Sanguine is the popular person who wants to have fun out of every situation and be the life of the party. Sanguines love to talk.

The Choleric is the powerful person who wants to take control of every situation and make decisions for others. Cholerics love to work.

The Melancholy is the perfect person who wants everything in order and done properly and who appreciates art and music. Melancholies love to analyze.

The Phlegmatic is the peaceful person who wants to stay out of trouble, keep life on an even keel, and get along with everybody. Phlegmatics like to rest.

It is amazing how quickly we can learn to spot these people and therefore know how to approach them correctly.

The Sanguines are the easiest to spot because they make grand entrances, love attention, attract people with their magnetism, exude charisma, and tell funny stories. What they want to hear from you is how attractive they are, how you like their hair, make-up, dangling rhinestone earrings, or anything else they have put on to ensure that you notice them. They live for the externals and want you to get excited over their clothes, sense of humor, or new red sports car.

If you are a Melancholy, you will not naturally be given to praising the obvious and will feel that to laugh at the Sanguine’s jokes and stories will only encourage that person to babble on. No matter what your personality is, if you wish to give a silver box to a Sanguine, make sure it is large, shiny, and covered with sequins—and present it in front of a large, adoring audience.

The Choleric Powerful Person is easy to spot because he walks with authority and appears to be in charge of everything. Such people don’t want to waste much time on trivial activity with no obvious results or converse with people who have nothing to say of any consequence. They are frequently telling other people what to do and pointing out the “dummies” of life. They accomplish more than any of the other personality types, can quickly assess what needs to be done, and are usually right. They don’t need to be affirmed on their looks, but they love praise for their accomplishments; their speed in problem solving; their constant goal setting; their loyalty to God, church, mother, business, or country; and their sense of fair play. If you are Phlegmatic you get worn out just watching these people, but if you want them to be impressed with you, tell them how amazed you are at how much they accomplish in a very short time. They may never have noticed you before, but they will suddenly see you as a person of great discernment.

The Melancholy Perfect Person is usually very neatly put together and intellectual looking. These people are usually quiet, reserved, and a little ill-at-ease in social situations where they don’t know everyone. They would rather talk quietly to one person in depth than banter with a group. They consider compliments on clothes and external niceties to be trivial and want to hear about the inner virtues of integrity, wisdom, and spiritual values. They often marry Sanguines who can’t find their way inside to these deep virtues and who keep telling them how cute they look. When we don’t understand these differences, we are giving out silver boxes that nobody wants. The Melancholy is very sensitive and easily hurt and tends to take what others say in humor as personal and hurtful. Since Sanguines and Cholerics say whatever comes to their minds without weighing their words, they often deflate the Melancholy who is waiting for someone to hand him a silver box that says, “I understand you.

The Phlegmatic Peaceful Person is amiable, easy to get along with, and relaxed. These people fit into any situation, blend in with the wallpaper, and modify their personality to get along without conflict. They laugh with those who laugh and cry with those who cry. Everyone loves the low-key nature of the inoffensive Phlegmatic, and though they aren’t loud like the Sanguine, they do have a witty sense of humor .They often lean while standing and sit in comfortable recliner chairs if at all possible. They don’t need a lot of praise like the Sanguine, nor do they want to be in charge like the Choleric, or get too deeply involved like the Melancholy. They do appreciate being noticed once in awhile, being included in conversations that they won’t push into on their own, and being told they are of value and their opinion is respected. Since they often marry Cholerics, whose idea of value is wrapped up in how much is accomplished in a given day, they don t get

appreciated for their quiet and gentle spirit. They, in turn, find it difficult to praise the constant projects of the Choleric because it wears them out just thinking of them.

Even with this brief section on the personalities, I hope you will see that each type appreciates a different size and shape for their silver box.


“SILVER BOXES: ” the gift of encouragement / by: Florence Littauer

Copyright @ 1989 - WORD PUBLISHING

Dallas - London - Sydney - Singapore

                    SILVER BOXES


         My words were harsh and hasty

         And they came without a thought.

         Then I saw the pain and anguish

         That my bitter words had brought.


         Bitter words that I had spoken

         Made me think back through the past;

         Of how many times I’d uttered

         Biting words whose pain would last.


         Then I wondered of the people

         I had hurt by things I’d said;

         All the ones I had discouraged

         When I didn’t use my head.


         Then I thought about my own life,

         Of painful words I’ve heard;

         And of the times I’d been discouraged

         By a sharp and cruel word.


         And now clearly I remember

         All the things I might have done;

         But, by a word I was discouraged

         And they never were begun.


         Lord, help my words be silver boxes,

         Neatly wrapped up with a bow;

         That I give to all so freely,

         As through each day I gladly go.


         Silver boxes full of treasure,

         Precious gifts from God above;

         That all the people I encounter

         Might have a box of God’s own love. Michael Bright - 1989

   My brother Jim inherited my father’s .gift with words, along with my mother’s musical ability............As a career chaplain in the Air Force, he received the Outstanding Young Chaplain Award for the entire Strategic Air Command. With two bachelor’s degrees and two master’s degrees, he has used his talents to minister to others in preaching, teaching, and counseling. He is currently the pastor of the Bath Church in Bath, Ohio. He has raised six outstanding children who are all creative and who are the enduring fruit on his family tree.

In his 1988 Christmas message to his congregation, Jim shared, in verse, the Christian commitment we need as parents to prepare our children for today’s world.


             Whenever a parent teaches a child the wonderful

              Gospel news,

             Whenever a parent makes a commitment, and Christ is

              the one she will choose,

             Whenever a parent makes Christian decisions in the

              face of many temptations,

             That parent prepares in the heart of that child Jesus

              Christ’s incarnation.

             Whenever a businessman stands for what’s right and

              defies all the idols of gold,

             Whenever he does what his conscience commands him,

              the message of Jesus is told.

             Whenever a doctor works long in the night to heal a

              pain-ridden soul,

             Whenever she gives of herself to restore him, she acts

              in our Christ’s healing role.

             Whenever a teenager stares down temptation and

              follows the tough, narrow way,

             Whenever he chooses the morals of God, he has

              brought that much closer Christ’s day.

             Whenever a lawyer cares more for what’s right than for

              what he might possibly gain,

             Whenever he risks his credentials for justice, our Lord

              is repaid for His pain.

             Whenever a teacher brooks the frustration of insolent

              kids and their folks

             To reach for the one child who is longing to know, she

              removes the mind’s crippling yokes.

             Whenever each one of us knows of another who needs

              to know that we care:

             How we love one another, rejoice in His Word, are

              really a people who share

             And reach out to that brother, lift up that sister in

              Jesus Christ’s sacred name,

             We wash from their souls, remove from their minds the

              hurt and the guilt and the shame.

             Whenever we, as the Church of our Master, respond

              (for our blessings are many)

             To those who around us, without our compassion,

              would hardly be found with any.

             Whenever we do this, as one or a body, in the Name of

              the Babe in the manger,

             We help clear the way on the highway of God for the

              hurt and the poor and the stranger.


SILVER BOXES. Florence Littauer

Copyright @ 1989 by Florence Littauer


         After Every Wedding Comes a Marriage

         The Best of Florence Littauer

         Blow Away the Black Clouds

         How to Get Along with Difficult People

         It Takes So Little to Be Above Average

         Hope for Hurting Women

         Looking for God in AU the Right Places

         Out of the Cabbage Patch

         Personalities in Power

         Personality Plus

         The Pursuit of Happiness

         Raising the Curtain on Raising Children

         Say It with CLASS

         Shades of Beauty (co-authored with Marita Littauer)

         Your Personality Tree

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