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About The Enneagram aboutThe Nine Personality Types



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Enneagram type oneType One: Perfectionist • Reformer • Crusader • Moralist

Perfectionism Ones continuously compare what is to what should be; they also deeply appreciate the elegance of something exceptionally well done – for example, a play, symphony, book, project, or anything that exemplifies excellence. Driven by high internal standards, Ones hold both themselves and others accountable for acting responsibly and for measuring up to their lofty expectations.

A Right Way Ones believe that there is a correct solution for any given challenge, question, or problem; they are quick to react to these situations by offering the right way, the best approach, or the correct answer. Even when Ones conclude that the correct answer is never black and white, they will still assert that there is really only one right way, which is always “gray.”

Resentment Because being responsible is an overarching value for Ones, they usually approach their work with diligence, demonstrating qualities such as follow-through, timeliness, and attention to detail. When others do not display these same characteristics, Ones often feel resentful and think, Why do I work so hard, when others seem to get away with a less than stellar performance? Resentment will build up in Ones, and they tend to express it through flares of anger that often take others by surprise. Most Ones need to feel righteous or justified in their outrage in order to express the deep-seated anger that frequently lies below the surface of their resentment.

Criticism Ones have a highly active inner critic through which they monitor their thoughts, feelings, and actions on an ongoing basis. This internal judge can be relentless, telling Ones what they have done wrong, what they should have said, and how they ought to have behaved. The self-recriminating inner voice, which is usually “on” 85 percent of the time or more, has a purpose: to keep Ones from making mistakes.

Ones can also be highly critical of others through explicit verbal criticism or implicit body language and behavior. Even Ones who do not appear to be critical of others may, in fact, simply not be expressing their judgments outwardly. For example, when a One was asked why she did not seem to be overtly critical of others, she responded, “Oh, but you should see what’s going on inside my head!”

Enneagram type twoType Two: Giver • Helper • Caretaker • Enabler

Relationships Most Twos believe that personal relationships are the most important part of their existence. It is quite common for Twos to have many friends with whom their emotional lives are intertwined, with the Two providing support, advice, or whatever he or she believes the other person needs. Although Twos often feel that others are dependent on them, Twos themselves become dependent on their relationships for personal affirmation and a sense of self-worth.

Focus on Other People Twos usually display an intuitive ability to understand what others need and a corresponding willingness to provide what is needed, if they can. The Two’s capacity to reach out to other people can be generalized (for example, anyone who appears hurt or needs something) or highly selective (specific individuals whom the Two believes have high status or are important). In the latter case, Twos will alter their image and behavior to meet the other person’s perception of desirability. Generally, Twos instinctively know how to present themselves so that others will like them.

Denial of Own Needs Because Twos focus so intently on other people, they focus far less, if at all, on themselves. In fact, Twos are often at a loss when asked what they themselves need. When asked this question, most Twos will either appear confused or may say, “I need to be needed.” Because most Twos have lost touch with their own needs, they often have difficulty expressing their own needs and getting these met directly.

Pride Twos often take great pride in their ability to make things happen – often behind the scenes – and to know what people need or situations require better than most other people do. Although they may be quite competent at orchestrating situations and people, there is a downside to this quality: while Twos often become quite elated when things go well, they become deflated and angry when events do not turn out as planned.

Enneagram type threeType Three: Performer • Achiever • Succeeder • Initiator

Image Threes are known as the chameleons of the Enneagram because they can change their image to match a particular situation. They do this not to blend in or fit in, but rather to create a positive impression – usually, one of self-confidence, optimism, and success. This shape-shifting is more intuitive than conscious; for instance, a Three might say, “I just read my audience well!” The image of success that the Three creates usually depends on the context – for example, it may be the image of a successful athlete, poet, wife or husband, community organizer, businessperson, or PTA president.

Goal Orientation Threes focus on goals, emphasizing results and the achievement of objectives, and they can become quite agitated when obstacles appear in their paths. While their drive to achieve goals usually makes Threes highly productive, the productivity can come at the expense of feelings – the Three’s and those of other people. To Threes, feelings – particularly feelings of sadness or fear – are seen as having the potential to derail them from accomplishing their objectives.

Success Work and accomplishment are the preferred areas of activity for most Threes, because their sense of self-worth depends on their doing a job successfully. Consequently, they tend to focus on “doing” rather than “being,” and they believe they are valued for what they accomplish rather than for who they are. Ever active, most Threes are confused by the word being. If it is suggested to a Three that he or she might spend less time doing things and more time simply being, the Three is likely to say, “Being? What is that?”

Failure Avoidance Seekers of success, Threes are simultaneously avoiders of failure. In order to avoid failing, Threes often pursue activities in which they are competent and therefore are likely to be successful. If and when they do fail (as everyone does at some point), Threes may still say, “I’ve never really failed” or they may reframe the failure as a “learning experience.”

 

Enneagram type fourType Four: Tragic-Romantic • Artist • Aesthete • Individualist

Extremes of Emotional Life Fours tend to live at the extremes of emotional existence. For example, Fours may gravitate toward one end of the emotional spectrum – depression at one end and hyperactivity at the other – or they may live their lives swinging between these two extremes. Fours often say that these highs and lows open them up to an intense level of existence that is beyond the ordinary happiness that others seem to be willing to settle for. Most Fours believe the following statement: “I am my feelings”

Longing Fours are attracted to the distant or unavailable because they idealize that which is beyond their grasp. This focus on what is missing by romanticizing it and/or longing for it makes the commonplace seem boring and ordinary by comparison. Most Fours think of melancholy as a positive or, at least, not a negative experience – for example, wanting something deeply and not having it, or feeling wistful or sad about what might have been. Many Fours says that melancholy makes them feel both in touch with their deeper core and very much alive.

Authenticity Fours are on a continuous quest for the true, the real, and the authentic. Their primary focus is the authenticity of their own self-expression (usually through artistic expression or interpersonal communication) and the authentic connection they feel with other people. Searching for meaning through emotional expression, Fours tend to express themselves through personal stories and often believe that the world of feelings is what is real.

Envy Envy refers to the sense that “Others have something that I am missing. Why not me?” as opposed to jealousy, which refers to “They have it, and I want it!” Blatantly or subtly, consciously or unconsciously, Fours compare themselves to others on a regular basis. As a result of these constant comparisons, Fours conclude that they are defective, superior, or both.

 

Enneagram type fiveType Five: Observer • Recluse • Thinker • Investigator

Thirst for Knowledge Fact-focused, objective, and analytical, Fives seek and guard knowledge, particularly in the areas that interest them the most. They are fascinated by information, and it is not unusual for Fives to have an extensive personal library in a room that is entirely their own. This library may contain books, CDs, DVDs, or magazines. This room represents both the Five’s storehouse of information and an area of personal retreat – the place the Five can be alone without external demands being placed on him or her.

Privacy Fives are usually very private and come alive when they are by themselves. This private time allows them to recharge their batteries and ready themselves for another day of interaction with others. At one extreme, Fives can be hermits, leading reclusive, mental lives. On the other hand, Fives can also be quite public, interacting with others in clear and circumscribed roles; these specific roles allow them predictability in their interactions and a way to keep the expression of their personal feelings to a minimum. Fives may share personal information with selected individuals whom they trust, but they expect these confidants to carefully guard even the smallest details of what has been discussed.

Emotional Detachment Fives can detach from their emotions at will and then re-experience their feelings later, when they are alone or feel safe. Fives often say that their emotions are more available and accessible when no one else is around to observe them and that they need this time alone to sort out what they have actually experienced and are feeling.

Compartmentalization Fives often separate or compartmentalize the different parts of their lives. They often have different friends for work, recreation, or community service, and they may intentionally never introduce these groups of friends to one another. Fives may also compartmentalize the knowledge they accumulate, placing information in separated “slots” or mental categories.

 

Enneagram type sixType Six: Devil’s Advocate • Loyalist • Questioner • Skeptic

Worst-Case Scenarios Sixes usually have active and vivid imaginations, and they tend to create worst-case scenarios – for example, anticipating what could potentially go wrong with a decision, plan, or action, or speculating that someone else may behave in a negative way. The Six’s focus on the negative possibilities often increases his or her feelings of anxiety. This, in turn, can cause the Six to think even more about what could possibly go wrong.

Sixes, however, believe that their anticipatory concern and planning helps address the problem at hand. When Sixes imagine a worst-case scenario, they can be quite insightful, because their minds are often finely tuned. However, Sixes can also miss the mark, as they are also prone to projecting their own thoughts, feelings, and motivations onto others.

Procrastination The Six’s tendency to create negative scenarios and to develop preventive plans often results in procrastination. It is not that Sixes forget to do something; they simply become uncertain about which alternative is the best course of action or which decision will lead to the fewest possible problems. When their worry and anxiety about what could occur combines with their own self-doubt, Sixes can become immobilized by “analysis paralysis.”

Loyalty Sixes value loyalty to the group and the organization because they tend to believe they are more protected when they are part of a group. They hope that by being loyal, they will cause the following to occur: the organization will reward them with fair treatment, those in authority will recognize and acknowledge their dedication, and their peers will support them if something goes wrong.

Authority Sixes tend to focus on the behavior of authorities, believing that authority figures possess the ability either to keep them safe or to hurt them. Sixes usually hope for the former and at the same time, are wary of having the latter occur at any moment.

The behavior of Sixes falls along a scale from phobic (overtly fearful) at one end to counterphobic (acting as if one is not fearful at all) at the other end. Most Sixes fall somewhere in between these two extremes and may display phobic and counterphobic behavior under different circumstances. Sixes who are more phobic tend to be more compliant toward authority figure

 

Enneagram type sevenType Seven: Epicure • Generalist • Visionary • Connoisseur

Options Sevens are buoyed by their belief that life’s possibilities are unlimited, and they want to make sure that they maintain all their options. When Sevens feel that their alternatives have been limited, they tend to feel trapped and anxious. Although Sevens do make commitments, they will also make sure to have backup plans, just as a precaution.

Optimism The Seven is the most optimistic style on the Enneagram, and most Sevens are positive in an effervescent and enthusiastic way. They can maintain their positive perspective because, even in times of duress, they believe that if things do not work out today, they will work out tomorrow. In less challenging times, Sevens’ enthusiasm is sustained by their fascination with interesting things and people, as well as by their ability to reframe negative experiences. For example, a Seven who is criticized for missing a meeting might say, “Yes, but I was reviewing a document and found a way we could improve this project dramatically.”

Pain Avoidance Seeking positive experiences not only stimulates Sevens, but it also provides a way to avoid pain, discomfort, and difficult situations. Although the Seven’s reframing of a negative experience provides a new perspective, it also minimizes the seriousness and importance of the situation. Sevens can be deeply moved and available to help someone else in deep pain, but the more typical Seven motto is “Don’t worry, be happy!”

The Synthesizing Mind The Seven’s mind is called the “monkey mind” because it moves rapidly from one thought to the next, one future plan to another, and one idea to a new and different one. Because of this mode of mental processing, Sevens are often creative and adept at combining one thought with other, seemingly unrelated ideas. Although this way of thinking can result in new ideas and innovations, this method of mental processing also causes most Sevens to become unfocused, as their attention to completing one idea or task becomes derailed by their focus on another stimulating thought, thing, or person.

Enneagram type eightType Eight: Boss • Leader • Challenger • Protector

Control Eights like situations to be under control, and they personally like to exert influence over the people and events that directly affect their lives. They are also acutely sensitive to the power-oriented or controlling behavior of others. While Eights usually respect someone who uses power and influence effectively, the reverse is also true, with Eights having an instinctive negative reaction to someone whom they perceive as abusing authority or exerting control in an ineffective manner. Eights are quick to sense chaos and lack of direction and will step in quickly to make sure things are moving in the right direction.

Justice Eights seek the truth, appreciate honesty, expect people to take responsibility for their own behavior, and demand that authority figures take charge and exert control in a just and nonmanipulative way. When they sense injustice, Eights will charge forth with great passion to assert their own beliefs and values, to redress the situation, and to protect those whom they perceive to be innocent victims.

Vulnerability Most Eights believe that the world can be divided into two groups of people – the tough and the weak. Given this two-part worldview, Eights opt to be among the tough and strong. However, under their bold exterior, Eights have a hidden, childlike vulnerability that they usually prefer not to reveal to other people. While some Eights even hide their vulnerability from themselves, many are willing to share their softer side with those whom they trust and respect.

Revenge Many Eights would not describe their behavior as intimidating or seeking revenge, but tend to perceive their actions as assertive and bold. Behavior that others may refer to as seeking revenge tends to be viewed, by Eights, as rebalancing the score, pursuing justice, standing their ground, or avenging a wrongdoing. The challenge for many Eights is to understand that even other assertive and confident people can, at times, feel intimidated by the Eight’s boldness, power, and tendency to dominate situations.

 

Enneagram type nineType Nine: Mediator • Peacemaker • Connector • Harmonizer

Harmony Nines tend to be relaxed, easygoing, and nonjudgmental and feel most content when they sense unity, rapport, and agreement, both between themselves and other people and within groups that are important to them. Most Nines also appreciate the natural harmony in nature and enjoy the sense of merging with the outdoors. Nines are also prone to merge or blend with other people whom they enjoy.

Conflict Avoidance Because Nines desire harmony so ardently, they avoid direct conflict whenever possible. Consequently, Nines tend to minimize aspects of their own behavior that could generate controversy – for example, taking a position on something, saying no, challenging someone else, and making decisions. Many Nines are also adept at mediating disagreements among others, as long as they themselves are not principal parties in the conflict situation. Their mediating role or behavior restores the harmony Nines value so highly.

Taking a Position Nines tend to discount their own thoughts, feelings, and needs, and they allow others to be the more active and assertive parties in their relationships. Nines do this by losing contact with what they truly want and by acceding or accommodating to the desires of other people. It can be extremely difficult for Nines to take a strong position on a range of subjects – for example, discussing what movie to see, deciding what car to buy, or taking an overt position on a controversial issue. Taking a position by saying no can be particularly troublesome for Nines, because doing so potentially creates tension and conflict with other people. Nines more typically say yes and go along with the agendas of others, or they say yes but really mean no. This latter behavior is passive-aggressive – saying yes, but having no intention of doing what has been requested.

Diffusion of Attention When tasks are pressing or important decisions are pending, Nines tend to become diffused in their focus and divert their energy to secondary tasks and activities – for example, taking a walk, doing some less essential paperwork, gardening, watching TV, or adhering to a predictable and time-consuming routine. For example, a Nine businessman describes himself this way: “I bring a briefcase full of work home. After dinner, I enjoy washing all the dishes, and my wife likes that. After that, she says that I disappear. I start to work but then go outside to garden for a few minutes, and that turns into hours. If it’s too cold or too dark to garden, I do my work in front of the television. I start switching channels, and the time gets away from me. I end up bringing the same work home night after night.”

The Enneagram personality types

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