Secondary Color Advantages and Disadvantages

If you are like most, your pie chart looks similar this one, which means you have a primary color (one driving core motive) but you also have a secondary color (another motive that influences they way you think and/or behave). Just as no two snowflakes are alike, no two Reds, Blues, Whites, or Yellows are alike either. We all have our differences, our nuances, our quirks. Just because the Color Code assessment indicates a person is a Core White personality, doesn’t mean that person necessarily possesses all of the White strengths or limitations. In most cases, an individual will naturally possess both strengths and limitations from one or more of the other colors outside of his or her driving core motive as well.     

Since a secondary color directly affects the way a person thinks and behaves, it carries with it both positive and negative implications.

Advantages of Having a Secondary Color

There are three significant ways that a secondary color can enhance one’s life.

1.     Create Balance. Having a secondary color can be very positive in that it can help balance you. The strengths from a secondary color can be very complementary to the core color. Take a bold, driven, and confident Red personality, for example, and add a Blue secondary color that brings out a side of compassion and genuine care for others. The characteristics from the Blue secondary color can really temper the tendencies of the Red to be selfish and insensitive of others. Mother Theresa fits the mold of the current example. People are often surprised to hear that she was Red, in fact, and not Blue, because she exhibited so many of the admirable Blue characteristics. What they don’t recall so readily was that Mother Theresa was extremely driven, efficient, and visionary—a Red complemented by compassion from her Blue secondary color.  As you can see, someone like this is hard to beat.

2.     Develop Other Positive Secondary Color Characteristics Easily. Another advantage to having a secondary color is the ease with which you can develop positive characteristics within that color—this is the “charactering” process. For instance, if an individual already has many secondary White strengths, it is far easier to understand how to develop additional White strengths. The charactering process flows more smoothly because a base of familiarity already exists.

3.     Understand Other Driving Core Motives More Easily. A third way a secondary color can enhance someone’s life is in his/her relationships. It is much easier for someone to understand a Red if he/she has a secondary Red. In many ways, they think and process similarly. One of the most common causes of conflict is the inability to see life from the perspective of others. Put a flippant Yellow student in a classroom, with a serious and rigid Blue teacher, and you’ve got a sure recipe for disaster. How can they understand and appreciate each other? At best they will learn to cope and tolerate one another rather than develop any sort of positive and constructive student-teacher relationship. Having a secondary color might help the Yellow student know when it’s appropriate to be serious and show respect to the teacher. The teacher would undoubtedly benefit from some secondary Yellow to understand how to breathe new life into her lectures and roll with the playful teasing rather than get upset and turn resentful.

Disadvantages of Having a Secondary Color

Having a strong secondary color can also bring with it some drawbacks. Here are three ways a secondary color can negatively affect behavior.

1.     Creates Personality Incongruence. This first struggle is probably the most significant. A secondary color can make an individual incongruent, and thereby less effective. This generally occurs when the characteristics of the secondary color are predominately negative limitations.

For example, let’s look at a White man who is generally pleasant, inventive, and kind. Then consider how he would be perceived if all of a sudden he began to display the very negative Red secondary characteristics of being bossy, argumentative, and insensitive to others. This man would make very little sense to those around him. He would seem to be a Jekyll and Hyde. This phenomenon is personality incongruence, and is very damaging to an individual’s ability to create positive relationships.

2.     Mistrust of Incongruity by Others. The problem with incongruence is that others will find it hard to trust you. Even without knowing the Color Code, people get an intuitive read on what others are naturally like. It is easy to perceive when someone is not acting true to him or herself. We find the person to be phony and certainly unworthy of complete trust.

People are more inclined to forgive others for the limitations they display from within their own core color than those that come from a secondary or other non-core color.

For example, if a Yellow is irresponsible, others will tend to write it off as “that’s just the way he or she is.” However, if that same Yellow exhibited the Blue limitation of being judgmental, people would not excuse the behavior so readily. Further, it would actually seem much worse than if a Blue were to display judgmental attitudes and behaviors.

In Summary

Having a secondary color is a positive condition if the strengths of one’s secondary color are developed and the limitations are minimized. It is true that the strengths of a secondary color are generally easier to develop because we are already somewhat familiar with them. On the contrary, trying to develop strengths from a color other than our core or secondary color is usually more difficult. We don’t have the luxury of natural familiarity with how those characteristics function and we may find we accidentally take on a limitation as well.


Ask the Expert

Dear Jeremy,

I am a blue married to a white and we are so struggling.  Any tips for us?



Hello, Linda.  I’m so sorry to hear that you are struggling. That is heartbreaking, but I ABSOLUTELY have some tips for you that can help if you are both open to hearing them.

First of all, I obviously don’t know you or your husband and we haven’t talked specifically about what is going on, so I’m going to speak in more general terms here. Whenever advising couples, the first questions I have to ask is “Do you both know the Color Code? Have you both taken the assessment, and have you read the book?”

I know sometimes one spouse is willing to do the reading and the other is not. In classic Blue/White couples, the Blue is generally more into self-improvement, but to the credit of Whites, they are introspective and interested enough a lot of times to do the reading as well as long as they don’t feel like you are forcing it on them. They are also very objective, which means that they will give what they learn a chance. I think that you could be in a very good situation in that regard.

The reason that I feel this is an important step one is that often times people gain such great clarity on both themselves (personal self-awareness) and on their partner. That clarity in and of itself can help unravel a lot of common misunderstandings and areas where just by nature, Blues and Whites see things differently. Sometimes that awareness can really aid in helping both parties to let go of petty grievances that really aren’t as important as they had previously seemed.

Now, let me get into some common dynamics of the Blue/White relationship and maybe give you some tangible tips that you can begin to work with. I’ll primarily address these to you, as you are the one who asked the question, but I’ll include the White perspective as well.

Generally speaking, the Blue/White relationship is pretty compatible. The reason why is that there is typically not a power struggle unless the White moves to stubbornness. Blues like to be in charge and are generally more controlling, and Whites focus more on controlling only themselves and refusing to be controlled by others. Both are typically quite well-mannered and strive to treat people with respect. Blues bring the compassionate side to that equation (with lots of heart), and the Whites balance things nicely with a lot of kindness and diplomacy.

This relationship, of course, can also go awry in certain ways. For example, Blue women a lot of times can begin to view their White husbands as being too lazy, stubborn, or non-committal. Whites husband can begin to view their wives as being too much of a “nag” or overly controlling/emotional and smothering. Incidentally, this doesn’t happen as much in the same relationship when the gender roles are reversed, though it still could.

When the relationship hits bumps in the road, the Blue, by instinct, wants to control things more tightly and demands more intimacy and connection from the White. The White views this as irrational, emotional control and wants to push back by digging in and becoming stubborn. So, the Blue pushes more, and the White pulls back more, and away they go.

My main suggestion to you:

  1. Assess your thinking and behavior to identify patterns that are often irrational because they are driven by fearful emotion. As you identify those patterns, try to let them go and come back to a more rational state of mind. This will help you speak the language of the White more effectively, and it will cause them to respect, listen, and pay more heed to your position.
  2. Give your husband space instead of trying to force a more intimate connection. This will go against everything your gut is wired to do, but I promise with a White, it will help. This could mean just giving him more time and space. It could also mean not pushing for answers to all of your unresolved questions.
  3. The last suggestion I will make today is that you perhaps try some written communication with him instead of purely verbal interactions. This will allow you to filter your thoughts/emotions so that you can say what you need to say more rationally. It also plays to the White’s preferred mode of communication. Most Whites far prefer written to verbal communication. They feel more comfortable, they have time to process, and they have an easier time truly putting their feelings to words. Again, keep it as rational/logical as possible when doing this, and you may be surprised to see just how willing to engage your husband actually is.

I’ll put down some suggestions for Whites as well, though it might not be the best idea to hand these to your husband directly – at least not at first. If your husband were asking the question, however, this is how I would respond:

  1. Be willing to be more connected/close/intimate. When you feel the knee-jerk reaction to pull back and withdraw, do your best to realize that sometimes Blues reach out, and in their desperation, just need to know that you are committed. Resist the urge to go into stubborn mode.
  2. Work on being more “present” and engaged. This will communicate to your partner that you are committed, which they fear you are not when things are not going so well. A lot of times for Whites, this has to do with increasing both the quantity AND the quality of your communication.
  3. Initiate more… in general. Initiate real conversation. Bring up important issues, and be willing to take action towards making improvements in general, whether those are specifically related to your relationship or just your general life progress as a couple, especially in areas in which you know your partner is concerned. This will help to abate your partner’s fears, which should bring the intensity down with it… and if I know you as a White, that’s exactly what you want to happen. 🙂

Thank you so much for your question on Facebook, Linda. I really hope that my answer can help you somewhat. If you need a recommendation of a counselor who understands Color Code, we can help you with that as well. As a family man myself, I understand how critical this relationship is for you, and I truly believe that the Color Code can help with a lot of it – especially in creating some more mutual understanding. You can start with that and use it as a building block to take your next several steps forward. You can do this!

Very best of living,

Jeremy Daniel

Jeremy Daniel (Core Color: Yellow) has been working with the Color Code since 1998 in various capacities from training in the field personally with Dr. Taylor Hartman to designing customized corporate solutions and new training programs for various industries.  To ask about Jeremy’s training or speaking services, please email and inquiry to