“The Enneagram shows us that we can’t change the way other people see, but we can try to experience the world through their eyes and help them change what they do with what they see.”
– Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile
Knowing your strengths and weaknesses helps you grow.
Knowing other peoples’ strengths and weaknesses helps, too.
What I’m learning about the Enneagram is it’s not just knowledge for ourselves. It’s also knowledge we can use to better love our friends, family, coworkers.
In their book on the Enneagram, The Road Back to You, Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile say that the Enneagram can be a tool for you to see how others are viewing the world.
“When you realize that your Loyalist Six husband views the world as a place filled with danger and uncertainty, and he in turn understands that when you get up in the morning you as a Performer Three feel an urgent need to compete and excel at everything you do, it’s amazing how much more compassion you can have for each other.
Everything isn’t so personal anymore. You understand that your loved one’s behavior is born out of a fractured vision of life.”
– Cron and Stabile
Ian and Suzanne gave helpful tips at the Know Your Number conference for dealing with each personality type. (See “5 Things I Learned at the Enneagram Conference” here.)
Think about the personalities in your circle of friends. You likely know at least one person from each type.
Here are the nine types.
How you can help someone who is a . . .
1 – Perfectionist
Because perfectionists always hear voices in their head about how to improve things, don’t interrupt them while they’re working. It doesn’t help to tell them something is good enough. Instead, ask how you can help them make it better.
2 – Helper
Twos wants to take care of everybody, even at their own expense. Help them understand they don’t have to do it all, just their one piece. And that you like them just as they are, even when they’re not helping.
3 – Achiever/Performer
Threes are competitive and success-driven. (Threes are revered in America, btw.) Don’t slow them down by talking in paragraphs to them. Communicate with them instead through bullet points.
4 – Individualist/Romantic
Fours are intense, have a wide emotional range, and are prone to melancholy. So don’t tell Fours to cheer up; they don’t think they’re sad. They’re just feeling what they feel. Don’t take their drama personally. (This is the least populated number on the Enneagram.)
5 – Investigator
Fives are drained by the world if they have to engage it too long. When you’re with them, don’t ramble. Get to the point. They are minimalists. They enjoy being with people, but not necessarily to “hang out.”
6 – Loyalist
Sixes know that life is uncertain and can’t be predicted. Remind Sixes that they need to trust their own experiences with God. Help them by exasperating the situation even worse. Listen to all their fears. (Half the world are Sixes.)
7 – Enthusiast
Sevens are adventurous and always ready for more fun. They also are most prone to addiction because they avoid pain and don’t know how to handle grief. Help them address all their emotions, not just the happy ones.
8 – Challenger
Eights are exceptional leaders and like to take control. They have more energy than any other number on the Enneagram. They like to know exactly where you stand, so always be straight-up with Eights. And challenge them if you disagree; they’ll respect you for it.
9 – Peacemaker
Nines will do almost anything to avoid conflict. They’re happy to just go along, so they can be slow decision makers. Learn to not rob them of making their own choices. Let them know their own preferences matter. (Nines make up the second largest group.)
Understanding that everyone sees life from a different lens can help us be more kind and patient with each other.
As we listen and learn, let’s do so with an attitude of gentleness and non-judgment, not forcing people to change, but giving them space to grow.
“It’s when we stop trying to change people and simply love them that they actually have a shot at transformation. The Enneagram is a tool that awakens our compassion for people just as they are, not the people we wish they would become so our lives would become easier.”
– Cron and Stabile
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Can you spot the potential number of your spouse or friend? Please share in the comments.
- 5 Things I Learned at the Enneagram Conference
- No Pride in Giving, No Shame in Taking