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Is Donald Trump an enneagram 8 or an enneagram 3?

8-vs-3Since August 2015, I have written four blogs about Donald Trump, not so much questioning what his type is – this due to the fact that for many years I have perceived him as a type 8 – but in order to predict what he might do in the future and what would be his motivation for doing so. These four blogs can be accessed on the links at the bottom of this blog.

In the last month, some Enneagram Facebook forums have been abuzz with strong opinions and even arguments – or at least what I read as arguments; I’ve just observed to some degree but not engaged – about Trump as an Enneagram type 8 or a 3.

I want to state that, from my perspective, trying to figure out whether he is an 8 or a 3 is not so useful by itself and not something to argue about since we don’t know him personally. So our take on Trump’s type is speculative. Type as a predictor of behavior, on the other hand, does matter when the stakes are so high such as in a presidential election.

That said, I started to wonder more about the type 8 versus type 3, since there was such strength of opinion on both sides. As a result, I went to a process I thought might shed a little more light on this.

I asked two people who are 8s and two who are 3s to answer this question: Do you think Donald Trump is an 8? (for the two 8s), or Do you think Donald Trump is a 3? (for the two 3s). The thinking behind this methodology is that we often recognize people of our own type more readily than we recognize people of other types. You may agree or disagree with this approach; perhaps two people are not enough to gain enough insight. But read on; I hope you find it interesting. All four people are typed correctly themselves, know the Enneagram well, and teach the Enneagram to others professionally.

From Lisa Alessi, an Enneagram 3 herself
If Trump were truly a 3, he would more than likely identify with successful political leaders, working hard to project an attractive image something more presidential in demeanor, which we have not seen. When 3s are feeling threatened, they usually go into overdrive to prove themselves, so you’d also expect him to try to prove his competency and be more prepared for the debates. Instead, we’ve seen more impulsive behavior in the form of retaliation, threats or oppression of his opponents or denial, not letting things roll off his shoulders, which are more typical reactive tendencies for 8s.

From Monirah Womack, an Enneagram 3 herself
Watching the last presidential debate confirmed for me once again that Trump is not part of the 3 tribe, my tribe. In my experience of the 3 patterns, we usually “color inside the lines,” aligning with rules, standards or processes in service of succeeding and being esteemed and admired for our accomplishments. Trump’s pattern seems to be that of rule-bender or rule-breaker — his “wait and see” remark about potentially not accepting the outcome of the election is clearly “coloring outside the lines,” from my 3 point of view. Unlike many 3s, his debate rhetoric sounded more like the exercise of power or control as a means to an end, rather than speaking of doing/goals/achieving. I was also struck by his lack of eye contact with the camera when he wasn’t speaking — it was as if there was a hood over his eyes. Most 3s seek eye contact as a means of connecting and winning others over to their point of view. When I take it all in, I don’t “read” Trump as an “other-referencing” character type; 2s, 3s, and 4s are all other-referencing, defining who they are in relation to how others perceive them.

From Jim Grant, an Enneagram 8 himself
Thoughts about Donald Trump:
Level of development
Red level of consciousness – opportunistic, power hungry, focused on impulsive self, egocentric, motivated by personal desires
Worldview and experience
Red, self-defensive, a bully, the way he is in life: “be what you are and do want you want regardless”
Degree of freedom in life experience
Narrow and specific (himself period!)
Scope of view
Insists only on his point of view, yours and mine don’t matter
Stage of identity
I want to be immortal, creating a permanent separate self
– There are those that have and those that don’t – I have more than any of you
– Gratify impulses and senses immediately
– Fight without guilt or remorse
– World is seen as and experienced as: me and them with a very narrow view – mine!
– Self is synonymous with my will, ideas and wishes
– Follow rules only if it’s in my best interest
– Others are seen as barriers to getting what I want
– Limits are to be tested
– People and things out there are a source of blame for things not going the way I want
– I can manipulate the world
Language characteristics
– Speaks in concrete, direct, straight forward way, simple dichotomies
– Expresses feelings as angry, sad, happy
– Tends to polarize arguments and show prejudices
– Uses crass and lewd humour to taunt and tease on another’s weakness
– High emphasis unspeaking to his own views and low emphasis on listening to others’ views, especially if different
My vote – very low functioning unhealthy 8

From Lindy Amos, an Enneagram 8 herself
Trump is an 8 because:
Whether we like it or not, Trump cuts a powerful figure on the stage, filling up the space physically, energetically and with his combative verbal style. As Jonathon Norcoss states, “Trump has the ability [and I would add audacity] to convey his authority and expertise, while having little of either.”

Whilst many in the media accuse him of intentional intimidation, like many 8’s, however, he may genuinely be unaware of the power of his presence, (an alternative, of course, is that he is aware, and does not care – 8-like unhealthy behaviour at its worst).

Fashioning himself as a politically incorrect saviour holds appeal for him I propose, because in an 8-like manner, this justifies his recklessness (in word and deed) and his defensiveness. His hubris is communicated through his bluster, his denial and his refusal to take responsibility for his actions. When he is proven wrong, his reflex is to blame others, deny responsibility and rewrite history (a classic 8-like smokescreen).

He has the unique 8-like talent of speaking with such force, convinced his opinion about the world is the right one, and this, I believe, instills confidence in others (particularly those yearning for the traditional masculine heroic leader). He appears to operate from a black and white view of the world. Proposing simple answers to complex and nuanced problems, Trump favours domination as a means of attack, whereas wisdom, discretion, compassion and collaboration would be more appropriate.

I offer this commentary as an outsider who has watched both debates in full and have been following the press on this. I also offer this commentary with a bit of discomfort mostly because I think the best use of the Enneagram is to focus on how we can each identify and develop healthy ways of being in the world, so my hope is that the pre-election blog would have some balance in it. We wouldn’t want our audience to think that all 3s or 8s are like Donald Trump, or any public figure for that matter, (if you catch my drift).

As you can read, the 3s do not think Trump is a 3; the 8s are certain he is an 8. Food for thought!

Prior Trump Blogs
Donald Trump and the enneagram | what makes The Donald run?
Donald Trump and the enneagram | what would make The Donald stop?
Donald Trump | in lust we trust
What’s next with Trump | where grandiosity and paranoia intersect

Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, the author of six best-selling Enneagram-business books, is a speaker, consultant, trainer, and coach. She provides certification programs for professionals around the world who want to bring the Enneagram into organizations with high-impact business applications, and is past-president of the International Enneagram Association. Visit her website: TheEnneagramInBusiness.com. ginger@theenneagraminbusiness.com

13 Responses to Is Donald Trump an enneagram 8 or an enneagram 3?

  1. PatOH Thursday, October 20, 2016 at 5:45 pm #

    Agree totally, he’s a gut reactor, lustful boasting, revenge tactics, way over the top non conformist…

  2. RobertRainey Friday, October 21, 2016 at 2:23 am #

    Very enlightening. Very objective. Thanks to all you.

  3. Oscar Ayala Sunday, October 23, 2016 at 6:51 am #

    This is very educational, dear. Cheers and whistles !!!


  4. Oscar Ayala Sunday, October 23, 2016 at 6:51 am #

    Great post. Cheers ans whistles !!!

  5. Kate Osrem Wednesday, October 26, 2016 at 11:11 am #

    Thanks for this post! I appreciate all of the thoughtful insight. Trump doesn’t seem to care one iota about other people think about him. As a 3, that’s one of the reasons I think he’s an 8.

  6. Courtney M Tuesday, November 1, 2016 at 7:23 am #

    Thanks for this informative post.  As an 8 myself, I definitely think Trump is an unevolved 8.

  7. angelenroute Thursday, January 12, 2017 at 10:28 am #

    I’ve been studying the Enneagram on and off for the past 20-some-odd years, and I’m fairly certain Donald Trump is a 3. I’ve only known two 3s in my lifetime (at least among those closest to me), and I’ve learned they are the rarest of all the numbers out there.
    As a monk, I encountered a lot of 6s, a bunch of 9s, a smattering of 4s, 5s, 2s, 8s, and 1s, but only one 3 in my 44-man community. We all studied the Enneagram and knew each other’s numbers, so it was a fantastic four-year master course for me at that time of my life.
    Donald Trump is all about acting a part, and performing a role, and he has a really bad tendency to lie and distort the truth–including an inability to ever admit he’s lied. Yes, that’s an awful characterization of the 3, and I don’t mean to lump all 3s into that same description, but it is a fair characterization of some. Listen to the recording from Don Riso about the 3 personality type on The Enneagram Institute’s website. It’s pretty spot on. https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-3/

  8. janaenn Sunday, January 22, 2017 at 11:25 am #

    Having read all this comments I’m pretty sure Trump is a very unhealthy 3 with a two wing. He is much too narcistic for an 8. He wants to win, always. Whatever the costs. Therefore he lies whenever necessary. Inwardly he is total vain: does he has any consistent ideas? Politically or economicly? No. He just listens to the people to find out how to win them over and than he says exactly what’s necessary. 
    He is extremely image oriented. Look at Trump Tower, all the gold colors (he even changed the curtains of the oval office into golden curtains), look at his three trophy women, look at his plane, look at all the buildings he puts his name on. An 8 would never do this. Trump is not so interested – as an 8 would be – in power. He is interested in admiration, acclamation, confirmation – that gives him the feeling he is loved. And that is exactly what he wants. He tries to suck love and admiration out of people – look at his lips when he is doing this. These are the lips of a baby. An 8 is only interested in power not in admiration. That’s a big difference.
    He is a very good communicator. 8s are not so good with this, while 3s are brilliant. His occasionly fatherly tone is owned to his two wing.
    I could go on and on with more arguments. This should be enough. One last thing: Trump has clearly the body language of a 3 (heart type) and not of an 8 (guts type). 

    Amen and over

  9. janaenn Sunday, January 22, 2017 at 11:50 am #

    angelenroute, you are right. That’s exactly as I see Trump (read my comment). By the way: On the east coast of the US you find many, many 3s. New York is 3-territory. California is a 7-country. The 3s are in many ways the typical American: aggressiv, outgoing, good managers, good communicators, very pragmatic and practical, image-oriented and also service-oriented. They get things done. So it is good the be a 3 – as long as you are a healthy 3 – otherwise see Trump. But even an unhealty 3 can become the president of the US!

    Another thing from my experience: France is mostly a 4- and 1-country, Italy an 7- and 2-country, Germany a 6-country, UK a 5- and 1-country, Greece a 4- and 7-country. When you tell the people in these countries that they are the typical number, they often don’t get it. Why? The traits of these numbers are all over the place. That makes them think it’s the normal – even the only – way to behave. So what’s all that nonsense with enneagram  about?

  10. 3anna3 Friday, February 17, 2017 at 8:04 am #

    I think the whole discussion whether Trump is a three or an eight can easily be settled. Just listen to him: great, fantastic, incredible, outstanding, tremendous, big, wonderful, unbelievable. It goes on and on. Sure, everybody uses these words occasionally but not permanently like him.Trump exaggerates almost everything, he is mostly over the top. Like a marketing guy. And threes are very good with marketing. Finally: he lies and lies and lies. Threes do this to enhance their position and to show their “greatness”. Eights don’t do this.

  11. Incarneight Sunday, February 19, 2017 at 9:55 am #

    I don’t think Trump is a great communicator. 8’s are always concerned about appearing weak to others. Given this, he would look like a 3 trying to be strong which could parallel a 3’s success.
    8’s have that 2 factor under growth. An unhealthy 8 could slide to the unhealthy side of 2. Look at his hubris. Unhealthy 2’S think they have a better get impact in people’s lives than they really do.
    Look at all of Trump’s executive orders. He is trying to go it alone like he doesn’t need the other two branches of government. That is total 8 (5 disintegration).
    Trump is all about power and strength. All those success words are part of his NLP game that Douglas Adams talks about.
    I think trump is an 8 w 7. As an example, he whipped out those executive orders with proper legal vetting. That is a total 8 w 7 move.

  12. Incarneight Sunday, February 19, 2017 at 10:22 am #

    I meant without proper legal vetting.
    Check out Scott Adam’s blog. He writes extensively about Trump’s methods. In this post, check under last subheading “connecting some dots”. http://blog.dilbert.com/post/129784168866/the-persuasion-reading-list
    I can totally see an unhealthy 3 manipulating a group with NLP techniques. I can also see an unhealthy 8 trying to appear strong thru manipulation and trying to control the narrative and people’s thought processes.
    Also, in basic terms, an 8 wants to know if you are with me or against me. Trump is like that in his twitter feed. If your with him you’re great and the best. If your not with him, your the worst. Black and white extremes.
    One last comment. 8’s try to control the conversation and strike first. Trump and his White House are always doing preemptive strikes which makes them always look aggresive and defensive. This seems very 8 to me. I can’t see a 3 trying to look successful even under unhealthy conditions appearing this way. My experience with unhealthy 3’s is that they act more covertly, behind the scenes. They are not so transparent like an 8’s are.

  13. Incarneight Sunday, February 19, 2017 at 10:34 am #

    As well, look at Trump at times even on Inauguration Day when he was walking out to the crowd. He has his guard up like an 8 ready to fight and defend. That squinting scowl in his eyes, his pursed lips. His rigidness. He does not look relaxed. His shield is up and he is ready to defend himself. 3’s never look this way to me. They always look more casual and inviting. Trump does not look inviting.

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