The Enneagram is a powerful tool for personal and professional growth both for individuals and teams. The nine types of personalities on the Enneagram represent the nine different strategies one could take when relating to the self, others, and the world. Each of us relates to one of these nine types; we each have a different pattern of thinking, feeling, and behaving that arises from a deeper inner motivation or worldview.
The Enneagram is ultimately a framework for understanding ourselves and others. The Enneagram helps people to recognise and understand patterns in human behaviour including underlying attitudes, conscious and unconscious motivations, emotional reactions, defence mechanisms, our focus of attention, strengths, gifts and how we grow into our potential and self-actualise as human beings. If you would like to learn more about the Enneagram read our blog What is the Enneagram of Personality? Or check out our archive of blogs on the Enneagram here.
Often people who are new to the Enneagram are curious about the nine types, so I thought I’d give a brief description of the nine types below. Remembering that these descriptions are general and incomplete in nature and do not point to the dynamics or complexity of each type. This blog is merely a toe in the water to evoke curiosity for those of you who are new to the Enneagram.
You will notice that the Enneagram uses numbers to designate each of the types because numbers are value neutral – they imply a whole range of attitudes and behaviours of each type without specifying anything either positive or negative. Numbers provide an unbiased, shorthand way of indicating a lot about a person without being pejorative. So, let’s dip our toes…
Type One’s are principled, purposeful, rational, stable, and idealistic. They are teachers and crusaders; always striving to improve things for themselves and others however they are afraid of making mistakes. This can lead Ones to being critical, judgmental, meticulous, disciplined, and perfectionistic of themselves and others. Ones can be visionary and noble with a strong sense of right and wrong however their high standards can lead them to be self-righteous, ruthless, rigid, and unforgiving. Ones are very well organized, orderly, and committed. They can tend to have problems with repressed anger and impatience.
What we love about Type Ones is their wisdom, integrity, goodness, and fairness in the world, as they try to make it a better place for everyone. Ones are in search of integrity and improvement. They want to contribute to the general welfare of others, to make the world a better place – thereby earning their place in it. They sublimate their own desires and drives and work hard, having a vision of excellence and what it takes to make “a better world.” They are practical idealists.
Type Two’s are empathetic, interpersonal, sincere, and warm hearted. Twos are friendly, generous, self-sacrificing and bring optimism, energy, and enthusiasm to relationships. Two’s like to bring out the best in others, they like to give praise; they are driven to be close to people, and they can show unconditional positive regard for themselves and others. Two’s like to help people by taking care of them and meeting their needs; because of this Two’s tend to struggle with taking care of themselves and their own needs, often causing burnout for the Two. Two’s can appear seductive and can alter themselves to win favourable attention from people in positions of power. Two’s like to be the power behind the throne, they can be the “behind the scenes manipulators” who meet other people’s needs for their own purposes.
What we love about Type Two’s is that they are vivacious, expressive, and talented and are determined go-getters. Twos bring compassion and empathy to the world; they bring people together and support and harmonize relationships. Twos are in search of Intimacy. The Two’s search is not simply for the feeling of being close with people, but to find a way to establish a relationship in which they are truly welcomed, close, and deeply wanted.
Type Threes are self-assured, attractive, charming, and pragmatic. Threes are extremely driven, ambitious, competent, energetic, and adaptable. They can be authentic, organised and goal orientated people. They are often status-conscious, success orientated and highly driven for personal advancement. Threes are often concerned about their image and what others think of them. They tend to have problems with workaholism and competitiveness and can be perceived as the soulless hustlers in business. You can feel inspired and capable around a Three or a little behind and lazy.
What we love about Type Three’s is that they bring efficiency and enthusiasm to the world, always striving for faster, better, bigger, stronger. Threes are in search of acceptance & validation. Type Threes bring value and quality to everything they do. They bring competence, excellence and healthy competition to the world, reminding us all to step into our highest potentials.
Type Fours are self-aware, sensitive, reserved, quiet and sometimes withdrawn. Fours are self-revealing, emotionally honest somewhat self-absorbed and refined. They can be expressive, addicted to drama, temperamental and self-conscious. Around Fours you can feel really special, or quite trivial, with their push-pull tendencies. Fours withhold themselves from others due to feeling different or unique and this is a way for them to protect this self-image. Fours can feel disdainful and exempt from ordinary ways of living, they dislike the 9 to 5 mundane life. They typically have problems with self-indulgence and self-pity.
What we love about Type Four’s is at their best, Fours are inspired and highly creative, with a sense of purpose. Fours align with causes and empathize with those, who, like the four, suffer the most. The poor, abused, neglected, or misunderstood. Fours bring passion, depth and aesthetics to the world and get right to the heart of the matter with their profound insights. Fours are in search of identity. Four’s want to know who they are, but more than that, they want to have a solid and dependable sense of themselves that they can call on.
Type Fives are alert, insightful, analytical, and curious. They are perceptive and secretive and can come across as unreachable and unemotional. Fives are highly cerebral and can concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and theories. Fives are independent and innovative and can become preoccupied with their thoughts and imaginary constructs. Fives become detached and withdrawn enjoying the ‘loner’ existence; yet can also be highly-strung and intense. Fives typically have problems with isolation, eccentricity, and nihilism; Fives hold their cards close to their chest.
What we love about Type Five’s is at their best Fives are visionary pioneers, often ahead of their time and able to see the world in an entirely new way. Fives bring wisdom and knowing to the world and often display mastery in their chosen field. Fives are in search of mastery. Fives want to master something so that they can feel more confident and readier to meet life’s challenges.
Type Sixes are reliable, hardworking, responsible, loyal and engaging. Sixes are warm, dutiful, truthful, and imaginative and are at their best when dealing with crises. They can be defensive, evasive, and highly anxious, running on stress while complaining about it. Sixes are compulsive in looking at worst-case scenarios, potential hazards, and risks; they see every silver lining has a cloud. In situations of uncertainty, Sixes like to work with people to solve problems. They are often cautious and indecisive but can also be reactive, defiant, and rebellious. They tend to have problems with self-doubt, suspicion, and authority.
What we love about Type Sixes is at their best Sixes are internally stable, self-confident and self-reliant. They are the dragon slayers, courageously supporting the weak and powerless. Sixes bring courage and caution to the world and question the lines of authority to ensure personal power is embraced. Sixes are in search of security & safety. Sixes are looking for someone or something in which to believe in.
Type Sevens are versatile, optimistic, spontaneous and inquisitive. They are playful, high-spirited, and practical. They can be overextended, scattered and undisciplined. They constantly seek new and exciting experiences, but they can become distracted and exhausted by staying on the go. The Sevens motto is “Fire, Aim, Ready,” and this can cause many problems but not for the Seven, usually for others. They tend to have problems with superficiality and impulsiveness.
What we love about Type Sevens is at their best Sevens focus their talents on worthwhile goals, becoming joyous, highly accomplished, and full of gratitude. They bring optimism and vision to the world and can bring many ideas together to produce a new line of thought. Sevens are in search of satisfaction & fulfilment. Sevens are searching for the thing that will make them happy and satisfied and remind us all to do the same.
Type Eights are strong, self-confident, assertive, and wilful. They are protective, resourceful, and decisive. They can be proud and domineering and they like to be in control of themselves and their environment. They can appear to others as blunt, take charge, and larger than life people. They are often charismatic, and action oriented, they want to have an impact on the world, and to leave a legacy. They are often tough on themselves and those they care about. They are risk takers, determined, sociable and outgoing.
What we love about Eights is at their best Eights bring strength and truth to the world and they fight for the underdog bringing justice and a fair go to all. Eights are in search of survival. Eights are in search of physical survival, as well as the survival of whatever “legacy” they have built. They teach us to stand up for what we believe in.
Type Nines are accepting, trusting, stable, flexible, and receptive. Nines are comforting, good-natured and have enormous goodwill for others. Nines are easy going and supportive however they can be too accommodating and can go along with others to keep the peace. Nines want their environments to be without conflict, they can become complacent and minimize anything that is upsetting. Nines tend to show passive aggressive behaviours. Nines can be stubborn and at times lazy, they can struggle with change and often describe feeling invisible in working environments. Nines tend to be indecisive and can fall behind until they jump into action.
What we love about Nines is at their best, Nines are reliable, available, and attentive; they can bring people together as they show unconditional positive regard for others. Nines bring balance and harmony to the world; they serve others, and they help to heal conflicts. Nines are in search of harmony & stability. Nines desire oneness, wholeness, and communion for themselves and others.