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(Adapted from "Awareness to Action: The Enneagram, Emotional Intelligence, and Change" by Robert Tallon and Mario Sikora)
The map we use for identifying personality types is called the Enneagram (pronounced “ANY-a-gram”). The Enneagram diagram consists of a triangle and a hexagon enclosed within a circle. These elements combine to create nine points along the circle (“ennea” is Greek for “nine”; “gram” means “drawing”). In the early 1970s, personality theorists started mapping observations about personality to this diagram. Over time, numerous schools of thought sprang up about this system and it is used by consultants, psychologists, social workers, and educators across the globe.
The Nine Types
Type One: Striving to be Perfect
Overview: Ones are usually models of decorum, clear logic and appropriate behavior. They are principled, and focus on rules, procedures and making sure that they are always doing the “right thing.” When they overdo striving to be perfect they can become critical, judgmental and unwilling to take risks. Under stress, Ones may fear that if they have too much fun they will become irresponsible.
What They Like in Others: Competence, high quality, adherence to principles and procedures.
What They Dislike in Others: Emotionality, illogical behavior, rule breaking, irresponsibility.
Communication Style: Deliberate, unemotional and focused on facts. They distrust hype and attempts to “sell” to them. They expect facts to be accurate and available.
Chief Asset: Precision. Ones are precise and methodical in their approach to life. They have an ability to make clear, logical decisions about appropriate action and behavior.
Where They Shine: Setting and following procedures. Ones are great in roles that require consistency of method and logic.
Type Two: Striving to be Connected
Overview: Twos are selfless, caring and nurturing. They focus on helping others meet their needs; they build rapport easily and enjoy finding connection with others. When they overdo striving to be connected they may fail to take care of their own needs and end up becoming “needy” and/or emotionally dependent on others. Under stress, Twos may fear that if they are not closely connected to others they will become isolated, unloved, and unappreciated.
What They Like in Others: Friendliness, sharing of feelings, contact, an opportunity to be of help.
What They Dislike in Others: Coldness, unavailability, lack of understanding and compassion.
Communication Style: Twos are generally upbeat and focused on bonding with and helping others. They often focus on personal issues and tend to make consistent eye contact. They are generally less comfortable when people focus completely on facts (and leave out people and or feelings).
Chief Asset: Empathy. Twos have a unique ability to understand and empathize with the needs of others. They can read emotional currents and provide just the thing that others need.
Where They Shine: When they can help others thrive. Twos prefer to play a supportive role and often see themselves as the power behind the throne—the person who helps others be successful.
Type Three: Striving to be Outstanding
Overview: Threes work hard to exceed standards and to be successful in whatever they undertake. They are competitive and place high value on productivity and presenting an image of being a winner in whatever environment they are in. When they overdo striving to be outstanding they may become overly focused on being “center stage,” and may value image over substance. When stressed, Threes may fear that if they are not making great efforts to be excellent they will become mediocre, as if to say, “If I’m not number one, I’m a loser.”
What They Like in Others: Prestige, success, productivity, being a winner, efficiency.
What They Dislike in Others: Failure, emotions, indifference to their achievements, passivity.
Communication Style: Tend to mix goal and task focus with charm. They like conversations to focus on the positive and generally avoid focusing on roadblocks. They avoid conflict when possible, and feel that conversations (especially at work) should be casually formal.
Chief Asset: Achievement. Threes have a unique capacity for self-actualization and success in whatever endeavors they pursue.
Where They Shine: In the spotlight. Threes love to be noticed for their accomplishments and generally take opportunities to have their achievements noticed by others.
Type Four: Striving to be Unique
Overview: Fours are creative and approach their lives in fresh and interesting ways. They gravitate toward things and experiences that are elegant, refined, or unusual. When they overdo striving to be unique they may become impractical, feel misunderstood, feel emotionally wounded, and withdraw from others and become isolated. When stressed, Fours may fear that if they do not put their own special touch on their world and their experiences their individuality will become stifled.
What They Like in Others: Refinement, sensitivity, creativity, attention, being appreciated.
What They Dislike in Others: Coarseness, conformity, superficiality, lack of appreciation for their uniqueness.
Communication Style: Fours tend to vacillate between introversion and communicating with great passion and strong opinions. They often slowly feel others out, looking for “authenticity.” They are put off by things or people that they consider to be banal, preferring to focus on issues they find important.
Chief Asset: Originality. Fours have a heightened ability to see the individuality and creativity in themselves and others. They are great creators and appreciators of beauty and originality.
Where They Shine: In creative environments. Fours love opportunities to express their originality and creativity, so they do well in situations where that can add their own flare.
Type Five: Striving to be Detached
Overview: Fives are observant, logical and generally reserved. They prefer a healthy, emotional space between themselves and others. They focus on problem solving, innovative ideas, and data gathering. When they overdo striving to be detached they can end up being dull—out of touch with their experiences and emotions. When stressed, Fives may fear that if they do not remain detached and guarded they will become overwhelmed by the demands of people and out of control.
What They Like in Others: Intelligence, innovation, curiosity, innovation, respect of their private space.
What They Dislike Like in Others: Emotional reactions, high pressure, crowds, too many expectations from others.
Communication Style: Fives tend to be deliberate and thoughtful communicators. They are unwilling to be rushed, releasing information on their own time. They tend to avoid displays of emotion (other than excitement over ideas), preferring to focus on data and facts.
Chief Asset: Insight. Fives have the capacity to analyze their environment quickly and synthesize their observations into the big picture. They see things that others don’t.
Where They Shine: At figuring things out. Fives are great in an environment where they have the opportunity to analyze, research, innovate and solve complex problems.
Type Six: Striving to be Secure
Overview: Sixes find security in being part of something bigger than themselves, such as a group or tradition. They are careful, responsible and protective of the welfare of the group. They focus on maintaining consistency, tradition and cohesion. When they overdo striving to be secure they may fail to take the risks necessary for high performance and settle for mediocrity. When stressed, Sixes may be filled with anxiety and fear that if they relax their guard they will be vulnerable to possible dangers.
What They Like in Others: Dependability, support/protectiveness, truthfulness, hard work, and stability.
What They Dislike in Others: Ambiguity, undependability, risk-taking, deviance (from norms of group).
Communication Style: Sixes tend to be passionate and reactive. They hold strong opinions, but often seem to be questioning themselves or weighing options. They often seem to focus on the negative and complain; this is their way of finding out where others stand on issues.
Chief Asset: Support. Sixes are steadfast, responsible and dependable. They are determined to perform their duty, to do what is best for the group, and provide for the needs of others.
Where They Shine: Anticipating problems. Sixes are great in situations where they have the opportunity to play Devil’s Advocate and prepare the team for potential difficulties.
Type Seven: Striving to be Excited
Overview: Sevens are upbeat, enthusiastic, optimistic and curious. They focus on possibilities and options and keeping others entertained. When they overdo striving to be excited they may fail to follow-through, become easily distracted and irresponsible. When stressed, Sevens may fear that if they don’t stay stimulated they will miss out on something and end up feeling bored, anxious, and/or unhappy.
What They Like in Others: Optimism, lightheartedness, spontaneity, options, focus on fun.
What They Dislike in Others: Pessimism, stuffiness, bossiness, rigidity.
Communication Style: Sevens are generally upbeat, and optimistic when they talk to others. They tend to prefer talking to listening, loving to tell stories and entertain others. They can become impatient with people who speak slowly, and they minimize bad news and conflict.
Chief Asset: Enthusiasm. Sevens are great in situations where they have the opportunity to create enthusiasm and energy around a concept, product, cause, etc.
Where They Shine: At energizing people. Sevens are great in situations where they have the opportunity to galvanize enthusiasm and energy around an innovation, concept, product, cause, etc.
Type Eight: Striving to be Powerful
Overview: Eights are action-oriented self-starters who prefer to be in charge. They focus on getting things done and overcoming obstacles that may lie in their way. When they overdo striving to be powerful they may not adhere to the rules or norms that others expect them to follow and their behavior can become overly aggressive. When stressed, Eights may fear that if they become too connected to others or experience their own emotions too deeply they will become dependent, vulnerable, and that people will take advantage of them.
What They Like in Others: Confidence, decisiveness, lack of pretense, straightforwardness.
What They Dislike in Others: Timidity, indecision, weakness, bullying, rigidity.
Communication Style: Eights tend to be initially quiet, but forceful, passionate, and opinionated when engaged. They expect others to have strong opinions and to be willing to stand up to defend those opinions. They are often impatient and fail to hear others out, tending to form opinions quickly in a desire to move on to the next challenge.
Chief Asset: Passion. Eights are robust and energetic. They bring great passion and determination to whatever they undertake.
Where They Shine: When the going gets tough. Eights bring self-confidence and energy to their work, and they thrive in the heat of battle. They love a challenge to overcome.
Type Nine: Striving to be Peaceful
Overview: Nines are calm, pleasant, and charming. They focus on maintaining a sense of inner harmony by minimizing their own needs and concentrating on the needs of others. When they overdo striving to be peaceful they may overlook threats to their security or success and become vulnerable. When stressed, Nines may fear that if they place too much importance on themselves they will be seen as attention-seeking. They avoid being “center-stagers.”
What They Like in Others: Positivity, humility, consistency, light-heartedness.
What They Dislike in Others: Confrontation, arrogance, extreme competitiveness, turbulence.
Communication Style: Nines generally seek to avoid offending others or causing conflict. They are generally slow to state their opinions, often holding back initially and weighing all options before commenting. They tend to be self-deprecating and are put off by what they see as arrogance, boasting, name dropping, and showing off.
Chief Asset: Groundedness. Nines have a capacity to remain immovable, solid, and unfazed by the changes of life. They can make people feel safe and have a calming, anxiety-reducing effect on others.
Where They Shine: Helping people feel good about themselves. Nines are great at making people feel included and part of a team. Their calm rubs off on others and helps them relax.