“To see ourselves as others see us is a most salutary gift.
Each of the nine Enneastyles is rooted in a specific viewpoint or belief structure that largely determines what is important to you and how you interact with the world to fulfill your hopes and dreams. Naturally you interpret other people’s behaviors through your own lens of looking at things. Your stance becomes your baseline. Working from the strengths of your type brings forth transformation and enhanced communication skills.
The Enneagram describes nine basic worldviews and nine different ways of doing business in the world. The description of the nine distinct personality types each reflects a different pattern of thought, feeling and action with their own natural gifts, limitations and blind spots. Aldous Huxley said, “To see ourselves as others see us is a most salutary gift. Hardly less important is the capacity to see others as they see themselves.”
The Enneagram divides the nine types into three groups. In the three triads, each type is different in important ways:
- Heart Center or The Feeling Group (Two, Three and Four) are concerned with people and are sometimes called the image or vanity points.
- Head Center or The Mental Group (Five, Six and Seven) put their trust in ideas (idea is Greek “to see”). They are the visual people who like to analyze. Fear is their central concern.
- Gut/Belly Center or The Sensing/Action Group (Eight, Nine and One) has central issues of will. They ask, “Whose will is more powerful, yours or mine?” Each has a characteristic issue around anger. They make decisions based on how it was done before.
Below is a brief synopsis of the nine personality types:
2 The Helper; Supporter; Lover; Giver; Pleaser; Enabler; Mentor:
The Two is feeling-based with an emphasis on relationship and empathy. They will go the extra mile to please others at the cost of taking care of self. Their own needs can become sublimated or expressed indirectly. They are considered the classic co-dependent personality. When their generosity is taken for granted they could become demanding, and tend to have a pattern of unavailability. They are heart-centered with an emphasis on feeling worth by loving others. “I give myself away to get love.” They need to be needed.
People: Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Schweitzer, Mother Theresa (redeemed), Arsenio Hall, John Denver
“People depend on my help. I am needed.”
3 The Achiever; Performer; Motivator; Communicator; Manifestor; Star:
The Three is feeling-based with an emphasis on success and achievement. They enjoy working hard, being successful and producing what is expected of them. They work hard to embody the definition of high accomplishment that is held in esteem by their cultural milieu. They have a tendency to lose touch with their authentic inner selves. They like to remain connected to what makes them worthy of being loved. They are image-conscious with a desire to feel worthwhile and accepted. Being performers, they can get addicted to performing. They are heart-centered with an emphasis on being a winner. “I can do it” because they need to succeed.
People: Elvis Presley, Michael Jordan,Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton, Mary Kay, Madonna
“The word values a champion. I must avoid failure.”
4 The Individualist; Romantic; Seeker; Artist; Tragic Victim; Innovator:
The Four feeling-based places an emphasis on authenticity and aesthetics. They like to look deeply within their own vibrantly intense inner world to search for a means to express the emotional depth that they feel. They have a tendency to be withdrawn and sensitive to beauty and meaning, but may be prone to melancholy, feelings of inadequacy, and envy. They see themselves as fundamentally different from others; consequently, no one can understand them or love them adequately. “You’re not like the fantasy. Something is missing. I have been abandoned.” They need to be special.
People: Janice Joplin, Michael Jackson, Edgar Allen Poe, Jackie Onassis, Jeremy Irons
“Something is missing. Others have it. I have been abandoned.”
5 The Investigator; Observer; Sage; Expert; Specialist; Synthesizer:
The Five is thinking based with an emphasis on being knowledgeable. They like to accumulate knowledge and protect personal autonomy. They keenly observe phenomena with astute detached awareness. Using intellectual depth and insight, they often make original and innovative associations. They accumulate knowledge in preparation for taking action. They tend to be the most independent of the nine types. They believe the world is invasive so they need privacy to think and recharge. “I don’t want to look foolish.” They need to perceive.
People: Albert Einstein, Bobby Fisher, Lily Tomlin, Jane Goodall, Bill Gates
“The world is invasive. I need privacy to think and to refuel my energies.”
6 The Loyalist; Truth-sayer; Questioner; Guardian; Doubter; Partner:
The Six thinking is based with an emphasis on creating security. They may behave as either phobic or counter-phobic. They are usually friendly and well liked, loyal and sincere. They use perception and intellect to understand the world and to figure out whether people are friendly or hostile. They have a tendency to imagine worst-case scenarios, so they prepare mentally to be safe. “What if?” They need to protect self.
People: Princess Diana, Tom Hanks, Katie Couric, Rush Limbaugh, Jay Leno
“The world is a threatening place. I question authority.”
7 The Enthusiast; Generalist; Connoisseur; Epicure; Visionary; Adventurer; Futurist:
The Seven is thinking based with an emphasis on multiple options. They are always thinking ahead, moving towards better possibilities and more enjoyable experiences. They tend to be extroverted, busy, productive, optimistic, and spontaneous; they distract themselves by staying on the go. Their compulsive desire is to avoid being deprived, bored or in pain which may lead to difficulty with commitment and follow-through. They live in the future with a type of “monkey-mind” that jumps quickly from one idea to the next idea, and it all seems connected. “The world is full of opportunity and options. I look forward to the future.” They need to avoid pain.
People: Robin Williams, Goldie Hawn, John F. Kennedy, Steven Spielberg, Lucille Ball
“The world is full of opportunity and options. I look forward to the future.”
8 The Asserters; Boss; Challenger; Warrior; Protector; Leader:
The Eight body-based type places an emphasis on control through personal authority. They present themselves as strong, self-confident and direct. Resourceful, decisive and protective, they want to be in charge. They tend to express themselves powerfully and like to maintain control, and they live with intensity, and fight for the underdog. They show anger freely. Everything is a contest of wills and they seldom back down. “Are you against me or with me?” They need to be against.
People: Jesse Jackson, Mikhail Gorbachev, Barbara Walters,Susan Sarandon, Donald Trump
“The world is an unjust place. I defend the innocent.”
9 The Mediator; Peacemakers; Unifier; Comforter; Optimist; Diplomat:
The Nine body-based shows an emphasis on harmonizing with people, task, or environment. Typically have a feeling of serenity and ease that they prefer not to have disturbed. They are easy-going, unpretentious, creatures of habit, jack-of-all-trades, and good-natured. There is a tendency to passively resist anything inharmonious or distressing by tuning it out. They seek personal balance and achieving harmony with other people. They are good at seeing all points of view. Creatures of habit, they can be stubborn and neglectful. “Keep the peace. The world won’t value my efforts anyway.” They need to avoid everything.
People: Gerald Ford, Kevin Costner, Whoopi Goldberg, Janet Jackson, Ronald Reagan, Ringo Starr
“The world won’t value my efforts. Stay comfortable. Keep the peace.”
1 The Reformer; Perfectionist; Humanitarian; Reformer; Idealist:
The One body-based type places an emphasis on control by rules and structure. They have an internal picture about what a standard of perfection looks like against which everything and everyone (including them) is measured. They are preoccupied with being good, driven to do the “right” thing or what should be done. They are prone to repressed anger. “There is a better way.” They need to be perfect.
People: Martha Stewart, Martin Luther, Mahatma Ghandi, Celine Dion, Margaret Thatcher
“The world is an imperfect place. I work toward perfection.”
WORDS ARE POWERFUL.
They can help or hurt you. They can get you positive results or break your heart. Your words create your reality. When you speak, you engage in a performative act. Speaking is performing—meaning your can make something happen. Promises, requests, offers, or words to persuade are performances that provoke action. You use words as a means to get people to do things for you, endear yourself to people, make people like you, buy your services, or countless other motivations.
Hate speech can hurt you. Help speech can reshape your world and produce sustainable results. Your words, body language, and emotions form a triangle through which you interpret the world. By changing the interpretation of this triangle, you shift the resulting behavior and the effect. Simple statements, such as saying thank you more often and offering words of encouragement, have a positive effect on people. To boost productivity, use the word imagine. “How do you imagine this project progressing?” This engages people and decreases stress because creativity and curiosity are being generated, and people are motivated to speak up.
Another step to open up the lines of communication is to use requests and offers. For example, you can say, “Is there anything else I can offer you?” and “Do you have any other requests?” This allows people to open up and reveal the chatter in their head (or what they really want), thus providing transparency in communication and removing hesitancy to speak up. Encouraging people to communicate openly creates a positive culture and enables people to move out of inertia and display talents. Transparency—speaking directly to the point—gets results.
Be direct. When you speak directly, your communication hits the bulls-eye; no translation is needed. Getting to this stage takes practice, courage, and the self-awareness to speak the truth in spite of inevitable criticisms. Take an active role by taking responsibility to hear the other person. Ask “you” questions to display an interest and other-centeredness: “What is your assessment of the situation?” Guard your tone. Take responsibility for how your language affects others. People often remember your words more than your actions.
Be aware of indirect communication.
Be aware of the effects of indirect communication, such as when someone: walks away, shaking his head because he felt it wasn’t safe to respond; dictates by providing an answer without asking a question; finishes the other person’s sentence; makes more statements with “I” than asking questions with “you.” Unless you review the power of language, you become stuck by giving yourself labels. You might say to yourself, I will fail, or I’m incapable, and this language can paralyze you. You have to be jolted before you initiate internal reflection.
Avoid communication breakdowns.
A breakdown occurs if you are suddenly jolted out of your automatic action—requiring you to assess your circumstances. Communication breakdowns happen when you don’t think about your words or their lingering effect. Any habitual response is automatic and falls into consistent, unconscious patterns, such as resorting to a conversation around old stories that keep you stuck in the past. For example, if you say, “I don’t care how you do it, just get it done!” the receiver will likely have an internal breakdown—we all want to feel appreciated and valued for our contribution. You might say, “How do you envision achieving the task?” This keeps passion alive.
Communication breakdowns can also lead to ambiguity—the inability to confront brutal facts and act with conviction to resolve them. Much ambiguity comes from lack of clarity and direction. To avoid ambiguity: Make your choices strong and clear. Confront uncomfortable truths. Act with conviction and resolve. Take responsibility for the role you play and how you communicate with others. Set aside differences, and focus the dialogue on the results. Express your point of view clearly. Be careful of mixed messages, such as telling people to speak up, take a stand, and take risks, yet rewarding playing it safe! Language-induced breakdowns often result from messages being delivered in a command-and-control style—authoritative language that puts others down and makes assumptions. This style comes across as though you are giving orders and won’t listen to questions.
Communicate your expectations clearly. Don’t expect the receiver to know exactly what you expect in the outcome and what you mean. Instead, you need to say directly, “I have expectations that you will do this and that.” Unclear expectations result in wasted time and unnecessary tension. Design conversations that coordinate action, such as requesting someone to stop using words that put you down and cause shame, blame, and diminishing self-esteem. A coordinated action lives in promises, such as “I promise to complete the task by 5 p.m. today.”
Speaking up. Speaking up and clarifying your position is taking appropriate action. Language brings us together and enables us to live together. Problem solving is a dialogue—with yourself or another person. Try being vulnerable by using the word confess. When you don’t have the answer, try saying, “I confess that I don’t know (have) the answer, but I promise that I will get back to you by 11 a.m. tomorrow morning with the answer. Will that work for you?”
Your relationships are defined by the conversations you have or don’t have with the people in your life, and you can determine the quality of your relationships by analyzing the conversation: “How do I create my conversations?” “Do I blame people or circumstances? Do I take responsibility to speak up to air the truth?” Wonder about what the behavior may be and listen for concerns. Wonderment lives in the ability to connect with the essence or core of the other person because of the effect you have on them. What draws you to some people and not others? Much of the pull has to do with the communication connection.
As you alter the language that shapes your choices, you enable transformation. Transformation boils down to effective communication. Think about your language. The words you choose can submerge you into negativity or elevate you to a higher consciousness—and take others with you. That’s the power of language!
Sandra Ford Walston, aka The Courage Expert, is innovator of StuckThinking™ and consultant, speaker, trainer, and author of COURAGE, STUCK, and FACE IT!
ACTION: Tap into the power of language.
HAVE YOU EVER wondered why breakdowns in communication with people regularly occur in our daily lives? Have you found yourself thinking, “We speak the same language, but we’re just not connecting?” This sense of disengagement with another can cause stress, wastes precious time and embeds in our mind perceptions that may or may not be true. These disconnections certainly short-circuit real listening, sabotage client relationships and customer service and diminish sales, trust and productivity.
I have designed and delivered customized training programs to large and small business and service organizations for many years. During the training sessions, I noticed the participants fell into one of two “camps” when it came to their style of communication and understanding. Over the years, I began to think of these contrasting styles as “Saturn” and “Neptune.”
BRIDGING COMMUNICATION GAPS
Differences in communication styles keep us light years away from achieving our personal and business goals. Without tools or skills to bridge the gap, we find ourselves repeating what we say and do, hoping to mend the breach in understanding, but experiencing complete frustration because we continue to get wrong results. It became clear to me that there had to be a method to link the communication gap between these two planets; techniques to develop clear and compatible understanding without compromising one’s own perspective.
Perhaps the first step in this process is to become aware of which of the two “planets” we call home. The following list represents some general behaviors and approaches used by Saturn and Neptune.
• Take in information through facts, using the five senses.
• Rely on experience and actual data that provide literal perceptions.
• Notice facts and details in the present.
• Understand information in sequence, and give it out sequentially.
• Are concrete and very careful about generalizing from the known facts.
• Prefer real and actual over possible and potential.
• Take things at face value.
• Have trouble interpreting the symbolic (an apple is an apple; a rose is a rose).
• Use the five senses to provide literal perceptions.
• Are “matter of fact” in dealing with others.
• Can pull information from many past experiences to apply to the current issue.
• Traditionalists: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
• Take information in as “quick snap shots” and then the attention shifts to patterns, connections, meanings and insights.
• Use the sixth sense, intuition and inspiration.
• Are comfortable with making generalizations.
• Focus on the big picture of possibilities and options.
• Love to brainstorm and “daydream” about future potential.
• Believe “all is possible.”
• Perceive a rose to be a flower, a symbol of love, or part of the song, or just potpourri, just as an apple is a symbol of good health, a sign of affection for a teacher, or applesauce.
• Are perceived as “in the clouds.”
• Do “leap around” communication.
• Visionaries: “If it ain’t broke, let’s break it and see what happens!”
Neither planet’s communication style is “right” or “better.” Each offers a richness of perspective to the other. When we take the responsibility to learn the dialect of another’s planet we are able to reward ourselves with a universe of new knowledge. With an increased understanding and recognition of another’s preferred style, greater productivity and stronger relationships are possible.
Sandra Ford Walston, The Courage Expert and innovator of StuckThinking™ is an internationally recognized speaker, internationally published author of COURAGE, STUCK and FACE IT!, trainer and courage coach.