Challenges of Each Enneagram Type in Holding a Space

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Challenges of Each Enneagram Type in Holding a Space

In our last article, we have discussed what it means to hold a safe space for others and why it is important. Just like empathy, holding space is like a muscle in which it will only get bigger and stronger if we constantly exercise it. Holding a space may not be as easy as it seems. Let’s unveil, the challenges that each type may face in holding a safe space:

Type 1 (The Perfectionist)

As a Type 1, you tend to sit better with things that are “right”, as such you may find it hard to listen without casting any judgment on someone when they are open and in a vulnerable state which may seem “grey” or “wrong” in your eyes. This may result to difficulty in showing empathy towards the other person. You may be to quick in trying to provide the solutions to “right the wrong”.

Type 2 (The Helper)

Type 2 people are often described as one of the most loving, nurturing and empathic types but even then, you may be blindsided on how to hold a safe space. When someone comes up to you for support, you may have the urge to quickly offer warmth (like a hug or pat), or can be too quick to sympathise with their story and provide advice even before they finish what they are sharing. Giving too much too soon may result to the other person feeling intruded by you.

Type 3 (The Performer)

Even though Type 3 is part of the Heart Triad, they may feel uncomfortable dealing with emotions and have the tendency to brush it off especially for emotions that associate with being unsuccessful and weak. As a Type 3, you may experience discomfort when listening to someone about their emotional aches and can be too quick to offer a solution.

Type 4 (The Individualist)

Type 4’s doesn’t have any trouble tapping into their emotions and usually are able to feel the energy and emotions of other individuals. The challenge comes when you are unable to “empty your own cup” and you start to relate to the situation in your own lens. You have the tendency to be caught up in your inner world which distracts you from being fully present.

Type 5 (The Observer)

Being a Type 5, your natural tendency is to detach from your emotions and this will make it harder for you to be open to holding a safe space for people when they are being vulnerable. You may find it challenging to empathise with the person’s emotion even though you could understand why this person is feeling this way. The growth here is to move from head knowledge to heart knowledge in order to be fully present with the person.

Type 6 (The Loyalist)

As part of the Head Triad, Type 6 tends to be practical in their lives. When you’re trying to hold a space for someone, you might miss listening between the lines when you enter into your “troubleshooting mode” and start thinking about solutions to offer to them. You might find yourself being in your head instead of actively listening with intent.

Type 7 (The Enthusiast)

People are always drawn to Type 7s as they radiate positivity, however, when it comes to discussing sad emotions, they would rather not engage in it. Sevens’ tend to have an aversion to sadness, so you might find yourself unwilling to hear anything that involves intense negative emotions and find ways to quickly reframe and snap out of it. Common strategies Type 7’s use would be to downplay the seriousness of the person’s situation or to reframe and get the person to look at the “bright side of the things”.

Type 8 (The Challenger)

Also known as “The Truth Seeker”, Type 8s are dependable and prefer to move things forward quickly. When listening to someone’s sharing, you might get bores and uninterested especially when it’s a long-winded story. You tend to be uncomfortable dealing with emotions that shows signs of weakness and vulnerability. In order to move things quickly, you may be too brisk to brush the person off or jump into conclusion and offer logical solutions.

Type 9 (The Peacemaker)

As the Type 9 Peacemaker, you have the need to preserve the “peace” at all times. Just your mere presence will comfort others but you might find it hard to provide your perspective or insight of the situation if a friend is asking for one. You might also find yourself wanting to retreat especially if someone is in the height of emotional distress.

In life, sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know, and wonder why we are not getting what we want. This is why knowing your Enneagram type is imperative. Learning about your type will bring you awareness on your motivations, blind spots and tendencies and it will help us catch ourselves when we may respond in a less desirable manner. This will eventually help us grow and cultivate authentic relationships with others.

Cindy Leong
Cindy Leong
Cindy Leong is a sought after bilingual (English and Mandarin) Enneagram Personality Coach and Corporate Trainer in Asia, who can help you make sense of your professional and personal relationships. She is a member of International Coach Federation (ICF) and Singapore Psychological Society (SPS). Besides a Bachelor Degree in Psychology (majoring in Communications), she also has a Diploma in Business and has done in-depth research and studies in the areas of Organisational Behaviour and Gender Communications, both in Singapore and Taiwan. Through her expertise in corporate executive coaching, personal development, and relationship coaching, she has helped many professionals in their walk through challenging times, particularly in the areas of identity searching, relationship building and career breakthrough. Aside from being a published author of 2 books, she has also been invited by several radio stations and magazines as an expert guest speaker to provide insights into Enneagram, workplace conflicts and relationships.
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