The following is a TINY TASTE ONLY of the nine personality types described in the Enneagram. Each description includes the basic propositions for each type, BUT “hold on to your seat”, this material can be quite confronting!
Basic Proposition: The state of perfection in all things is damaged by a world that judges & punishes bad behaviour and impulse. Therefore, Ones gain worthiness (love) by being good & correcting errors. Ones resent and suppress anger/guilt over impulse and bad behaviour in self & others.
Strengths: Contributes effort and correct action, integrity, fairness, clarity with guidelines and standards, concern for excellence, drives for continuous improvement, industry, diligence, idealism, high standards, ethics, practicality, self-reliance, responsible, conscientious.
Hypersensitive to: Error Under Values: Diversity
How this plays out: The core of the one’s personality is the belief that they must do things right to be of any value as a human being. Anything that does not meet a strict standard is bad, and should not be tolerated. So, ones are compelled to strive for the “correct” way to work, play, and live. This results in very high standards for their own behaviour, a totally dedicated work ethic, and a strict moral code. They react strongly to criticism of their performance, to others’ suggesting that they didn’t do something ‘right’, to people who don’t follow the rules, to co-workers who they see as “slackers” not measuring up to the one’s internal standards, and to people who break this severe code of ethics. Ones reactivity often takes the form of scolding, frustration, anger, or moral outrage. They are often unaware that they sound angry, and usually reject any suggestion that their outrage is unjustified.
However, ones are particularly good at bringing high standards, dedication and hard work to the team. They can lead through integrity and reason, when they are not hindered by perfectionism and resentment.
Basic Proposition: The state of freedom where needs are met is negated by a world based on the premise “to get, first you must give”. Twos replace humility with pridefulness, where love is gained and needs are met by giving to others, and hoping they will give back in return.
Strengths: Sensitive to feelings, empathetic, willing to give what’s needed, helpful, warm, generous, caring, supporting others’ development, mentoring leadership (with “with” them, not “for me”), continually explaining, energetic, exuberant, alive, expressive, generating good feelings, networking.
Hypersensitive to: Other’s unmet needs Under Values: Own needs
How this plays out: The core of the twos personality is a belief that they must actively help others if they are to be valued as human beings. They usually find it extremely difficult to identify their own needs as their own needs are repressed. Pride results from the belief that they have no, or few, needs, and that their role in life is to predict and meet the needs of others. Yet two’s often search for freedom from having to look after others. But everything they do is aimed at searching for emotional connection with others through giving. Twos can experience resentment, or act as martyrs, when they don’t feel appreciated by co-workers, or don’t feel they’re getting what they deserve in return for “all they have done”. Twos can feel intense rejection if co-workers emotionally shut down or shut them out. Twos can also get upset when others don’t help each other or “play nice.” Twos may mentally blank out, emotionally crumble, or burst into tears rather than pushing their own agenda, or pointing out the value of their work, or themselves. As they spend so much attention on other’s needs, they assume others should know that they want overt appreciation, or love, in return.
Twos bring an intense desire to connect and assist others in the team. They can shine with generosity, or struggle with people-pleasing and possessiveness.
Typical Presentation: Great image, alert, energetic, looking successful.Basic Proposition: A state of hope where things work according to a universal plan is negated by rewards given for doing, not being. Love & acceptance is gained through performance, doing & success. Threes fall into self-deception by taking on the image of being successful & worthy of approval.
Strengths: Industrious, efficient, practical, competent, focussed, energetic, confident leadership, thrives in competition, sees possibilities, “tasky”, finds solutions, active “go getter”, often high profile, “juggles many balls at once”, enthusiastic, persuasive, encouraging, provides what’s needed.
Hypersensitive to: Obstacles to achievement Under Values: Teamwork
How this plays out: At the core of type three is the belief that they must reach goals and look accomplished to be of value as a human being. To achieve these ends they project the image and persona of a top performer. They intensely focus on completing tasks. They react strongly to anything or anyone blocking their forward progress, to people who expose the flawed person behind the superhuman image, and to co-workers who make them look bad in meetings or other public forums. Failure is to be avoided at any cost, even if it results in putting on a “spin” to “re-badge” the activity as a success. Threes often are unaware that they have emotions, or even a body that should be attended to. They often work themselves to exhaustion, a nervous breakdown, or even into serious illness to get things done and achieve.
So threes bring a driving desire to perform and achieve outcomes to the team. They can become inspiring examples of excellence and authenticity, or blindly pursue success and status.
Basic Proposition: The state of deep & complete connection is lost in a world that abandons, leaving something important missing, resulting in envy & longing. As a result, there is a never-ending search for love, or situation that is unique, special, missing & believed to be fulfilling.
Strengths: Great creative flair, constant searching for exceptional quality, ability to realize passionately held ideals, appreciative of the unique, idealistic, sensitive, attuned to feelings, deep compassion for others, empathetic (specially with suffering), individualistic, intense, romantic.
Hypersensitive to: Ordinariness Under Values: Calm and stability
How this plays out: Fours have a core belief that there is something missing deep inside them. They see others as happier and complete in comparison, and may envy them. This leads to internal feelings of deficiency and longing, yet also a sense of uniqueness and specialness.
They react strongly to feeling left out because it affirms the belief that they don’t really belong in the team. In these situations, fours will withdraw and feel alone or “less than.” Fours also react badly to repetitive, mundane tasks or projects if they see them as lacking deep meaning. It is difficult for fours to interact for long periods of time with people who they consider are superficial or not authentic. Fours may be overwhelmed with emotion when they experience loss of objects, relationships or status.
Fours search for an ideal, usually results in great creativity, innovation and flair. They can model the benefits of intuition, or be held back by moodiness and self-consciousness.
Basic Proposition: The state of knowing there is always sufficient energy to meeting real needs is taken away by a world that demands too much, or gives too little. Avarice for time, energy, resources and knowledge results. Fives protect from intrusion, and limit loss of resources by maintaining privacy, self-sufficiency, limiting desires and wants, and acquiring knowledge.
Strengths: Scholarly, “sage”, observant, knowing, thoughtful, rational, quiet, comprehensive analysis, dispassionate (calm in a crisis), respectful of others’ boundaries and independence, excellent listeners, keeper of confidences, dependable, sorts out what’s required vs what’s wasted energy, minimalist, works behind the scene, self-contained, appreciative of simplicity, ascetic.
Hypersensitive to: Intrusion Under Values: Networking “just for fun”
How this plays out: Type fives share the core belief that an invasive world takes too much, and drains their limited amounts of time, energy, resources, and knowledge. In response they often hoard their resources, and put emotional or physical distance between themselves and others. Type fives retreat from, or get frustrated by, co-workers who require a lot of time, emotional connection, or hand-holding. They like to be self-sufficient. Five’s react badly to people who invade their space or probe into their inner world. Being over-dependent on others, or working with people who are needy, causes anxiety. Fives react strongly if they are rushed to make decisions before they conduct extensive research or gather enough knowledge. Yet fives frequently hold an enormous amount of organizational or technical knowledge and have considerable wisdom to offer.
Not surprisingly, another term for fives is The Sage. They can demonstrate visionary intellect and inventiveness, or become increasingly eccentric and isolated.
Basic Proposition: The state of faith in self & others is injured by a world that is threatening, dangerous and not to be trusted. This results in doubt & fear. Six’s gain (or defy) security and avoid (or face) harm through vigilance, active imagination, doubting, and escaping (or battling) perceived dangers.
Strengths: Dedication, devotion & loyalty to others, dutiful, questioning mind, “ferreting out” hidden agendas, insightful forethought and risk minimization (specially re potential hazards and possible outcomes to decisions), good in crises, perseverance through difficulties, warm, protective, trusting as faith develops, sensitive, steadfast, vigilant, inject humour.
Hypersensitive to: Danger Under Values: Innovation and others’ good intentions
How this plays out: Type six has a core belief that, to survive, they must seek safety and security in a world filled with hazards and dangers. They are hyper-alert and scrutinize all as to whether they can feel safe with them, or not. Sixs will either confront or avoid authority figures that they believe are not trustworthy. Authority figures are not to be trusted if their actions don’t match their words, if they don’t protect members of the team, or if they are inconsistent and quickly change their mind without good reason. Sixs are keenly alert for false images and hidden agendas. Sixs defend causes they believe in, especially around underdog groups. They react with anger or fear to situations in which they feel any physical risk. Although it can be frustrating for others when sixs worry about everything that could possibly go wrong, their risk minimization approach to life and work can also ensure potential problems are identified. Trouble shooting can be a specialty, as they have fore seen problems, and have often developed plans to address problems should their fears be realized.
They can exemplify courage and commitment, or struggle with anxiety and rebelliousness.
Basic Proposition: The state of focussed concentration with the ability to respond freely and fully is blocked by a world that frustrates, limits and causes pain. Gluttony of mind ensures an escape from frustration and the pain of facing fearful situations, by using imagination (possibilities), indulging in pleasures, and future planing.
Strengths: High energy, playful, charming, loving of life, enjoyable, inventive ideas and plans, interconnecting diverse areas of knowledge, imaginative, egalitarian flair to leadership, optimistic, minimally impacted by painful experiences, open to a variety of possibilities and alternatives, fascinated and fascinating.
Hypersensitive to: Limits and constraints Under Values: Consistency and focus
How this plays out: Sevens believe they must keep their options open in a world that attempts to constrain and limit them. To do this, they juggle multiple projects, change plans quickly, and keep the environment light and enjoyable. Although they avoid confrontation, they react strongly to those trying to control them, or people who demand compliance to specific ways of accomplishing tasks, or even someone who tries to pin them down to one plan of action. They find loopholes or alternative solutions if they are assigned repetitive or boring jobs. If they are exposed to anger, pain or sorrow, anxiety will emerge, and they will try to escape by flying into mental planning or simply exit, physically or mentally. Co-workers who are slow, think small, and can’t see the multitude of possibilities cause frustration in seven’s.
Sevens are intensely optimistic, fast thinking, and bring endless possibilities to the team. They can become highly accomplished and spirited, or be waylaid by impulsiveness and impatience.
Basic Proposition: The state of believing there is truth in everything is damaged by a hard, unjust world. This is replaced by forceful energy, called lust. Respect & protection is gained by becoming strong & powerful, imposing own truth, and by hiding vulnerability.
Strengths: Straightforward, direct, wants feedback, wants the truth, generous, strong, demands power, takes control, gives direction, zestful and forceful energy, passion for seeking justice and confronting injustice, protective of others, exciting, intense, determined, courageous, persistent, friendly, truthful, trusting, fair, clear.
Hypersensitive to: No one in control Under Values: Other’s ways of doing things
How this plays out: Type eights are often “larger than life” people, who believe that they have to be strong in a world that is hostile and threatening. They like environments that are controlled. If they don’t perceive adequate control, they will take over and dominate. They value competence and will test, challenge, or try to take over if they believe an authority figure is not up to the job. Often eights will dismiss or “run over” co-workers who are weak and indecisive. Eights react with anger or distrust if co-workers are indirect, subtle, or evasive. Anything short of total honesty is not tolerated. Eights instinctively move to correct imbalances in power and justice. They specially avenge wrongs, and rush to the aid of weak people who they perceive as being abused by others. Eights will fiercely defend members of their inner circle against outside attacks.
They will do whatever is needed to complete the task, “or die in the attempt”! They can become powerful magnanimous leaders, or control and intimidate.
Basic Proposition: The blissful state of unconditional love and union where all belong equally is lost, resulting in feelings of unimportance, requiring blending in. Nines fall into self-forgetting (sloth) where belonging and comfort is gained by merging with others, and dispersing energy into substitutes.
Strengths: Attentive to others, keeping balance through adaptability, building harmony with others by resolving conflicts, compromising / consensus driven, win / win, empathetic, adaptive, accepting, agreeable, supportive, participative, calming, receptive, co-operative, steadiness, team builder, facilitator, coach, uses attributes of all types.
Hypersensitive to: Own discomfort Under Values: Own opinions
How this plays out: Type nines believe that, to have a place in the world, they must blend into their environment. They have learned to merge with others’ desires and disconnect from their own drives, impulses, and needs. They typically avoid confrontation. Although they may appear calm and placid, they can react when others try to impose deadlines or structure on them, becoming passively aggressive. When it’s time to make important personal decisions or stand up for themselves, easily distracted nines may find their attention pulled to inessential tasks, books, food or activities. When their own needs are not met, which often happens, they may discover anger building up inside, or they may become sleepy and “zone out.”
However, nines are wonderful team players. They are very good at seeing all sides to any issue. They are happy to share the credit, and usually excel in smoothing out any tensions between team members. They have been described as “the glue of the universe”! They can bring people together and heal conflicts, or be held back by passivity and stubbornness.
The first step in freeing yourself from your habitual reactions is to increase your self-awareness. You must discover “the box you are in”, before you can start to climb out of it!