The Enneagram Personality Profiling System
Know your type
What is the Enneagram?
The Enneagram (pronounced ANY-a-gram) is a dynamic personality profiling system defining nine personality styles. These nine types of human nature include many subtypes and variations. It covers external behaviors, underlying attitudes, conscious and unconscious motivations, emotional reactions, defense mechanisms, one’s sense of self and potential, and much more. It is also a symbol that maps out the ways in which the nine types are connected together.
How can I benefit from the Enneagram?
Most of the time, we go through life on ‘automatic pilot’, reacting with our habitual patterns. While this is easy and comfortable to do, it often is not the most appropriate nor useful response for each situation. We are less likely to achieve our desired outcome when we simply react rather than when we are able to choose our response.
In times of stress, our ‘normal’ way of coping breaks down. We take on a different set of strategies, which could seem out of character. By being aware of our behavior, we are more able to understand what is actually going on with us. Learning about your Enneagram type gives you a source of self-knowledge, revealing much more of your personality than could normally be seen. With increased self-awareness, we have the choice to avoid reacting in negative or unuseful ways, moving away from unconscious habitual behaviour to conscious chosen behavior, thus having better control over our outcomes and consequences. We are also able to look beyond our personality, realizing that it is not just who we are, to begin to find our real selves, our true nature.
Learning about the other eight types helps us see others ‘as they are to themselves.’ We realise their very different ways of perceiving the world, become less judgmental, and are more open to listening to others’ points of view. We become more understanding of the world view that a person of a different type operates from. Rather than blaming people for the way they are, we can understand why they are that way. We will also know how to communicate and relate to them based on their needs and enjoy more effective communication with them. The Enneagram gives us the framework for honouring the diversity of ourselves and others, helping us improve our relationships tremendously.
Can the Enneagram be used in business?
Yes, for communication, leadership, team-building, coaching, performance appraisals, human resource, customer relations, change and conflict management, and especially emotional intelligence in the workplace. Understanding the Enneagram type of our colleagues and staff, we will be able to:
- assign jobs by the most suitable personality type.
- bring together a balanced team of people with different strengths.
- know how to support people and help them operate from their strengths.
- recognise and prevent situations that provoke each personality type to spiral down into an unbalanced or dysfunctional state.
Where does the Enneagram come from?
It is derived from ancient wisdom traditions, combined with modern psychology. The symbol is ancient, dating back to Pythagoras or even earlier. It was introduced to Europe in the 1920s by G.I. Gurdjieff, a Greek-Armenian spiritual teacher, and arrived in the United States in the 1960s. The psychological descriptions of the types are the work of modern psychologists and authors.
How can I find out my Enneagram type?
Ultimately, only through self-observation and honesty can you discover your personality type. To find out more about the nine types, you could read about them, or attend a workshop. You could also fill in a questionnaire, which would give a good indication of what your type is. Some people discover their type easily, while others take somewhat longer.
Can I be more than one type?
While we have all nine types within us, we have one basic type, our ‘home base.’ People of the same basic type could behave very differently, as within each type there are nine Levels of Development & Health – from healthy and high-functioning, to average, to unhealthy and dysfunctional.
What are Wings?
While we have a basic type, we also have secondary types of one or two wings, which are the types on either side of our basic type on the Enneagram symbol. Usually, one wing is more dominant than the other.
What are the Triads?
The Enneagram is divided into three Triads -Instinctive (types 8, 9 & 1), Feeling (types 2,3 & 4), and Thinking (types 5, 6 & 7). These Triads represent different core issues and defenses people have, revealing ways in which we contract our awareness and limit ourselves.
What are the Directions of Disintegration and Integration?
Each Enneagram type moves in specific directions (paths along the symbol) when they are under stress or regressing (Direction of Disintegration), and when they start to heal their core issues, progressing to become more whole (Direction of Integration). Thus it can be used to predict future behavior; useful in situations of change, personal or organizational.