October 05, 2020

Understanding and Unlocking the Potential of the Enneagram

M&P team member, Maria, leading the Enneagram Lunch & Learn

When it comes to relationships, both professional and personal, there is nothing more powerful than understanding various personalities and their impact on behavior. This can be a daunting task given that there are over 2,000 personality tests on the market, but you’ve probably heard of some of the most popular: Myers-Briggs (MBTI), the Big Five, and the Hogan Personality Inventory. One assessment that has been gaining a lot of acceptance and use in recent years: the Enneagram. Our team recently did a socially-distanced Lunch & Learn to help us identify each individual’s enneatype then dive into ways we can better understand ourselves and each other.

What Is It?

The enneagram system is an evaluation that places individuals into 9 personality types (“enneatypes”) based off their motivators and interpretation of the world. Whereas Myers-Briggs describes individuals based more on their conscious choices and behaviors, enneatype indicators are intended to identify the subconscious forces deep in our psyche. To put it simply, enneagram tries to go beyond just what you do, but why.

Image: Initiate Life

Image: Initiate Life

The Nine Enneatypes

Before we share profiles, it is important to understand a few pieces of information and terminology unique to this system:

  • The enneagram symbol: the entire framework for this personality study focuses on a 9-point numbered geometric figure (shown above)

  • Enneatype or basic personality type: this is your core profile

  • Wings: your personality dynamics can be influenced by the two adjacent types on the enneagram symbol

Alright, now we are ready to dive in! Here are the attributes, plus a tailored gift set idea for each enneatype:

  1. The Reformer

    • Summary: the rational, idealistic type

    • Descriptors: principled, purposeful, self-controlled, and perfectionistic

    • Gift idea: Work From Home - help your Type 1 stay organized with a stylish notebook, perfect for planning ot their weeks or jotting their thorough meeting notes

  2. The Helper

    • Summary: the caring, interpersonal type

    • Descriptors: demonstrative, generous, people-pleasing, and possessive

    • Gift Idea: Fall Nights - the seasoning and chop sauce will let a Type 2 whip up a delicious meal while hosting loved ones that they value most

  3. The Achiever

    • Summary: the success-oriented, pragmatic type

    • Descriptors: adaptive, excelling, driven, and image-conscious

    • Gift Idea: Fuel - anyone who works as hard as a Type 3 deserves delicious coffee to keep them going strong

  4. The Individualist

    • Summary: the sensitive, withdrawn type

    • Descriptors: expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, and temperamental

    • Gift Idea: Yin - the pops of color will be a hit with a Type 4, plus the hair ties are great for throwing their locks up as they create their next masterpiece

  5. The Investigator

    • Summary: the intense, cerebral type

    • Descriptors: perceptive, innovative, secretive, and isolated

    • Gift Idea: Home Chef - nothing excites a Type 5 more than developing expertise, so why not give them something new to experiment with like a fun recipe?

  6. The Loyalist

    • Summary: the committed, security-oriented type

    • Descriptors: engaging, responsible, anxious, and suspicious

    • Gift Idea: Woof x Lucy & Co. - as the name says, a Type 6 values loyalty, so chances are they may have a pup that means the world to them. A gift to their furry friend will show you care

  7. The Enthusiast

    • Summary: the busy, fun-loving type

    • Descriptors: spontaneous, versatile, distractible, and scattered

    • Gift Idea: Yang - the perfume rollerball and hair ties are great to keep in a purse as a Type 7 jets between all of their hobbies and interests

  8. The Challenger

    • Summary: the powerful, dominating type

    • Descriptors: self-confident, decisive, willful, and confrontational

    • Gift Idea: Green - this enneatype is sometimes referred to as “The Protector,” so help a Type 8 protect the planet with some eco-friendly essentials

  9. The Peacemaker

    1. Summary: the easygoing, self-effacing type

    2. Descriptors; receptive, reassuring, agreeable, and complacent

    3. Gift Idea: Zen - the lavender eye mask and nourishing soap will help a Type 9 find their much-desired tranquility

How Do I Use Enneagrams?

Knowing others’ motivations allows you to more clearly understand their point of view and find resolutions. For example, an enneatype 6 at work may seem skeptical of a new team member, but if you recognize their deepest desire is to have security then you can find ways to give them that sense of stability. By creating opportunities for that new member to establish trust early on, the Type 6 will feel safe and will likely get past initial suspicions for a more productive working dynamic. No matter what the connection, the Enneagram can be a wonderful tool for your interpersonal relationships and self awareness.

Our Team

We were so excited that our colleague, Maria, was willing to lead a session to help us discover more about our enneatypes. Here is our team’s breakdown, along with their key takeaway from the training:

  • Della

    • Type: 1W9

    • Takeway: “How well each type fits each of the team members. I was sitting there thinking, that type is totally this person! It was also interesting to think back at how people reacted to challenges and how that correlated with their type.”

  • Maria

    • Type: 7

    • Takeway: “I got into the enneagram from a previous job where my entire team was remote, and communication was hard. Many people were misunderstanding each other so I thought it would be a cool way for people to learn about themselves and others.”

  • Jo

    • Type: 7W8

    • Takeway: “How easy it was for others to tell my type! I think there's something about that for 7s in general because they tend to be outgoing, chatty, and down for whatever.”

  • Theresa

    • Type: 2

    • Takeway: “That each individual is complex and therefore can exhibit their enneagram in different ways.”

  • Laura

    • Type: 8W7

    • Takeway: “Understanding that this test is about what you are motivated by - I really loved learning that today. Such a helpful distinction when applying it to the workplace and what motivates your team.”

  • Sarah

    • Type: 2W3

    • Takeway: “I am really into astrology, but knew little about Enneagrams so I was super excited to learn more from Maria! I had no idea they had such a rich and long history. Another thing that stood out is how Enneagrams are based on what motivates you rather than the behaviors we exhibit.”

  • LaChelle

    • Type: 1W2

    • Takeway: “That people can morph through different enneagram types during different phases or stages of their life. In essence we are always growing, changing, learning, and adapting to the environment around us.”

  • Rachel

    • Type: 8

    • Takeway: “Focus less on how you express yourself, and more on why you hold your beliefs and views.”

Interested in learning more about the Enneagram? Check out these resources that Maria compiled to get started!