4 Most Frequently Asked Questions About The Enneagram (1/4)
In a training setting or even whilst speaking to people about the Enneagram, there are a few common questions that usually comes up in my conversations with them.
So, because these seem to be the SAME few burning questions that I have always been answering, I thought “Let’s answer them in writing here, so people can read and I don’t have to repeat myself again and again”.
We will be doing this over the next few weeks, so buckle up and here we go!
Frequently Asked Question #1 : I have ALL 9 Types In Me, right?
YES, we do have the traits of all 9 Types in us.
BUT… we only have one core type. Our default. The one preference that we go autopilot on. However, that does not mean we cannot grow out of it – so that will be answered in the next post. (Frequently Asked Question #3: People Do Change, So Does My Enneagram Type Change?)
What does having one core type mean? It is the ego structure, the worldview, the defence mechanism, the core motivation of WHY we do the things we do. This does not change.
BUT unknowingly (or if you have gone through my Enneagram courses, knowingly), you do engage the traits of the other Types, depending on the situation – to be more effective in handling a situation. So does that mean the different Types can show the same traits but with different motivations? Again, this will be dealt with in an upcoming post in this series. (Frequently Asked Question #2: Same Action, Different Types? What Is The Motivation?)
But first, let’s focus on today’s topic and to do this more meaningfully, I am going to use myself as an example:
My core Type is 3 (The Achiever) so my motivation in planning and executing a plan is to help me to get to the goal that I have set for myself. And as a wing 4, my goal has to be meaningful to me.
For the purposes of this article, let’s say that this goal is to create the best Enneagram course I can come up with. So in coming up with the structure of that Enneagram course, I would tap into my Type 1 (The Perfectionist) traits, which would help me come up with a structure. I have to ensure that the material is put across in an “easy-to-understand” fashion and also in the process, be thoughtful towards learners who are new and help them along in this journey of self discovery (Type 2 – The Helper).
Then comes the content right?
What information do I need and what stories would I include in the training to help me connect the audience to my material? In this instance, I tap into the Type 5 (The Investigator) traits available to me where I will read, deep dive into current research and interview people to get the stories and data that I need in order to put what I am trying to teach into context.
Next comes the gathering for feedback of my curriculum where I ask the people around me what they think about what I have created. The way that I receive feedback can be through my Type 9 traits: to solicit for honest feedback in a neutral manner. So instead of ‘feeing emotionally attacked’ by feedback that may not be what I want to hear, coupling my Type 9 traits with my Type 5 ability to stay objective to the feedback given and to only take ‘the good stuff, would help me strengthen the curriculum of the course I am developing.
Okay so now we have the course, now how do I deliver that content?
While teaching a class, I need to be high energy and engaging. That is when I engage my Type 7 (The Enthusiast) traits to make the session impactful, interactive and even light-hearted at times. Also, when it comes to a panel where I need to wade deep into the sea of emotions, I need to then tap on my Type 4 (The Individualist) traits to empathise whilst going deep but holding space even when some participants tear up in the class. The Type 4 in me comes out at that time because it allows me to provide a safe space for may participants to express themselves freely and without fear of judgement.
Then at times, when it comes to handling a challenging student in class, my Type 8 traits are summoned to take control of the situation and allows me to assert myself to the challenger firmly so as not to allow him/her to derail the whole course with his/her behaviour.
When it comes to workshop preparation, I always utilise my Type 6 traits which helps me to come up back up plans and to err on the side of caution. Coming to training venue 30 minutes to prepare myself, preparing 2 extra training booklets than needed, is a habit that I have built up over the years. I must say this does not come naturally to me (because I am not a Type 6), and that it is definitely a trained behaviour. However, I see the benefits of being in Type 6 mode as it would ultimately contribute to me conducting a good class successfully, which then helps me achieve my core motivation and goal.
So in the above example, does my core Type change? Does the motivation behind my actions change in the given situations? No. It does not. (This will also be addressed in Frequently Asked Question #2: Same Action, Different Types? What Is The Motivation?)
Are there traits that do not come naturally to me?
Of course! As mentioned above, the traits that do not come naturally to me are entirely trained behaviour!
For example, a low mastery 3, could be complacent, and may not see the importance of the preparation work I mentioned above. In my early days, the “I can always wing it” argument could often be used by me but I also realised that this mode of thinking would only get me so far in terms of achieving my goals. So, in order to go further and to be an excellent trainer, I needed to learn to be more prepared. Sometimes, a form of that preparation would involve me arriving early to pray for every single learner that is about to step into the room for the day.
Hence as seen in all these examples, mastering the positive traits of one Type can complement the blind spots of my core type. Undoubtedly, the list of examples goes on and the learning opportunities to make my core Type the best it can be are boundless.
In conclusion, we all have the traits of the 9 Types in us that we can tap on to respond appropriately in any given situation. But in order to do that, we need to know ourselves first – that is, we need to understand what are the natural traits, talents and gifts from our core Types first, then use the knowledge about the traits of the other Types to complement the blind spots of our core, so that we can all be the best version of our core Types.
Curious about what your core Enneagram type? Do you know that you can use your SkillsFuture credits to attend our Level 1 class? Contact us today to find out how!