The 9 Types of Enneagram Personalities: Understanding Yourself and Others
Do you ever find it hard to understand why you do the things you do and think the way you do?
Or why the way you think, act and respond can contrast so drastically from the people around you? You could be faced with the exact same scenario and have a completely different reaction from even your own sibling!
Everyone is unique and different, which can be frustrating but wonderful all at once. The key is learning yourself and those around you. The more you understand yourself, your friends, your loved one, or your co-workers, the more you find yourself appreciating and working with the differences rather than growing frustrated when others don’t think as you do. Can you imagine if everyone were exactly the same? It’s all the unique people in the world, the different personality types that give us scientists, doctors, teachers, mathematicians, musicians, politicians, artists, and more.
Variety is necessary and beautiful, but in order to make the best of our own personalities and those of people around us, we need to better understand how we work. As a result, we can improve both personal and professional relationships. We can learn to see that our co-worker isn’t trying to be obnoxious as we understand where he’s coming from; we begin to misunderstand people around us less, leaving life with fewer conflicts and more mutual appreciation.
Often, we’re mostly blind to our own personality traits. It’s so much easier to point out faults in others than it is to see them in yourself. However, leaving your negative traits unchecked can lead to unhappiness and failure, and failing to see your own strengths keeps you from improving and capitalizing on them. The more you know yourself, the more you can change the negative traits and play on your strengths.
Then, as you begin to understand the people around you better, you begin to see each person as a whole instead of just your first impression, and you find your interactions becoming smoother.
Learning the 9 personality types of the Enneagram can benefit you hugely in grasping an understanding of who you are and how to interact with and understand the people around you.
The Origin of the Enneagram
Oscar Ichazo was born in Bolivia and started a program for self-development in the 1950s. He based his teaching, referred to as the Protoanalysis, on the Enneagram figure along with a mixture of other ideas. In 1968, he started an Africa institute. Ichazo, now known as the father of the Enneagram of Personality and its 9 types, said that his teachings were meant to help people identify and understand fixations, rising above the sufferings caused by their own destructive thoughts and behavior patterns.
In more recent years, the Enneagram model has received criticism for being subjective to interpretation and difficult to analyze scientifically. However, it’s just one of many models. Many theories exist to help us determine who we and the people around us are. One of those is The Big Five, a model that has gained much credibility in the scientific world of late.
The 9 Personality Types
You’ll come across any number of personality tests and models, and each one has its pros and cons, helping to flesh out the intricacies of the human personality. The Enneagram has nine types; based on our dominant characteristics, we each fall into one, but we can share traits from other types as well.
The Enneagram model has worked so well that businesses have even used it to match applicants to job requirements, develop team building, and improve leadership. Spiritual circles have also found it useful in understanding themselves and improving how they conduct themselves with others. It’s a straightforward method of understanding people’s behavior based on their dominant characteristics.
Each type can be referred to by its number or by the characteristic that most defines them. As you read on, you’ll find a brief description of each type.
Type 1 – The Reformer / Idealist
Some might also refer to Type 1 as the Perfectionist. They are idealistic about themselves and the people around them which often leads to their being hard on both themselves and others. They are principled, conscientious, and moral, holding everyone to a high standard; as a result, you will find that they are hard-working, responsible, dedicated, self-disciplined, and practical. They get things done the right way which makes them extremely successful, driven by a sense of purpose. However, they can also be overly critical which leads them to be judgmental and even self-righteous at times; they can often treat the weaknesses of others with contempt.
Type 2 – The Helper / Caregiver
Think of Type 2 as your sympathetic, caring type. They overflow with warmth and generosity and are demonstrative in their love for others. They enjoy being around people and typically have a lot of friends. They tend to draw people towards them, like moths to a flame, with their sensitive and fun-loving nature. They are empathetic, perceiving quickly the needs and emotions of those around them. You can always count on Type 2 to help out, partly because they love to and partly because they can’t say no. Because of a tendency towards low self-esteem, they have a deep need for appreciation; as a result, their eagerness to help can quickly be abused and taken advantage of by the wrong people, but their fear of rejection leaves them powerless. Type 2s can struggle with bitterness and resentment as they suppress their feelings to avoid conflict and put the needs of others before their own.
Type 3 – The Achiever / Performer
I’m sure you can guess the dominating traits of Type 3 just from its name; the achiever is success-oriented, image-conscious, and driven; they love to set goals and meet them. As a result, almost everything they do is done with excellence and self-confidence. Because of their self-assured and charming nature, people tend to look up to them as role models. Their worst fear is to be inconsequential, unnoticed, so they are conscious of statuses and images. The opinion of others holds great sway in their lives.
Type 4 – The Individualist / Romantic
Type 4 is a sensitive and temperamental type. They tend to live in an idealistic world and are often disappointed in how reality doesn’t measure up. The Romantic is self-aware, deep emotion, and works to be unique; at the same time, their uniqueness leaves them feeling isolated and alone. Often, Type 4s are artistic, involved in activities that require creativity, expression, and meaning. They are empathetic and loving; they are friends with few, but those who are their friends received the utmost time and affection. Fours have a tendency towards self-pity, mood swings, and melancholy. They despise the ordinary and mundane and, as a result, are often discontent and unhappy with the simple things that most others would enjoy.
Type 5 – The Investigator / Observer
Type 5 is typically the more introspective type, focused inwards on understanding themselves and getting knowledge. They enjoy reading, researching, thinking deeply and dissecting concepts internally. Gathering material possessions or attaining a certain status is the last of their priorities; they’d rather spend their time and energy in isolation, observation, and study, searching for their Self. They are cerebral, not social, and, as a result, they fear they have what it takes to face the world. Their minds are their home, and they prefer studying and understanding how things work to being with people. Because of this, they tend to be overlooked by those around them. They may be the best in their field of work, but someone less intelligent and skilled could have more success because Fives lack the necessary social skills.
Type 6 – The Loyalist / Skeptic
Loyalty and skepticism may not seem like they go together, but it’s the Six’s skepticism of people that makes them so loyal once they decide you are to be trusted. They have an inner sense of threat and danger which causes them to be distrustful and suspicious. They’re more ready to think the worst than to believe the best. In order to believe something or someone, they require multiple proofs to show them that any suspicions they have are baseless. They are protective of themselves and those close to them and can’t be too careful. It takes a long time for them to let down their guard, but when they do with someone, that person is a friend for life. They have a keen sense for danger but can be paranoid and overly fearful which often leads to procrastination and a lack of achievement.
Type 7 – The Enthusiast / Adventurer
You’ll almost always find a Type 7 in an upbeat, enthusiastic mood. They’re always up for a good time, especially when it’s unplanned. They love spontaneity and any enjoyable pursuits, seeking pleasure and avoiding negativity as best they can. Out of all the personalities, Sevens are the least stressed. They are optimistic, always finding something to be happy about, a way to resolve a situation or something fun to do. However, they often find it hard to stick with one thing, jumping from task to task, leaving each one incomplete. Commitment doesn’t come easy – to projects, jobs, or people. This last can cause major problems and often means that a Type 7 can be promiscuous. Closed relationships can leave them feeling trapped and stifled; they’d rather be unconstrained and free, doing whatever they want whenever they want. It takes a while and is nearly impossible for a Seven to settle down.
Type 8 – The Challenger / Warrior
Type 8s can often come off as quite intense and domineering. They are strong, natural leaders, filled with self-confidence and assertiveness. They are hell-bent to depend on no one and rarely show any signs of vulnerability. They can walk in and take charge of any situation they walk into and use their strength to protect those around them. They are honest and blunt, sometimes offending those around them even if that was not their intention. They fear being controlled and prefer to be in control of their own and other people’s circumstances. Eights can be confrontational and more visibly angry, even having explosive natures. But the core is a deep desire to protect the helpless and fight injustice. They are often misunderstood because of their intensity and drive.
Type 9 – The Peacemaker
You’ll most often find Nines mediating or acting as a referee, doing whatever they can to diffuse a volatile situation. Peacemakers are easygoing, complacent, and agreeable. They do everything within their power to avoid confrontations and conflicts with others; however, they greatly enjoy connecting with people and nature in an atmosphere of peace and harmony. They are warm, supportive, and non-judgmental. Because of their dislike for conflict, they have a tendency to withdraw into solitude and refuse to deal with life. It also leaves them out of touch with their own emotions at times. They don’t know how to express anger and often may not even realize they’re feeling it. Not all Nines are introverts, but many are. If there’s a situation they can’t diffuse, most likely they will just withdraw, but since they are not self-assertive, they can be inactive and indecisive which cripples their progress in life.
So, after being introduced to each of these types, which one do you think you are? Maybe you see yourself in several of these, so it’s hard to know which one is your dominating traits. It’s difficult, at times, to know yourself, so take this short test to see which type you are.