7s and 8s are wings of one another and this is the most common reason for type confusion; a 7 can have an 8 wing and vice versa. In addition, both 7s and 8s are rebellious character types, although they rebel for different reasons and in different ways. 7s rebel against limits of any kind; they believe they were born to be free with limitless possibilities in every direction. For 7s, rules of any kind are limits. 8s rebel against being kept too small, unjust or arbitrary rules, and abuse of others. However, they don’t mind rules if the rules make sense, and they like rules that they make.
Here are some differentiating questions that you might find useful. Two caveats for the questions to work effectively: (1) the question only works if the person has narrowed down the possible types to these two only and (2) once the question is asked and the answer is offered, it really matters that the guider/teacher/coach understands the meaning of what is being said.
Question Approach | spontaneity versus intensity
Are you more fun-loving and spontaneous or more serious and intense?
Listen for this
Type 7 | 7s are fun-creating, fun-seeking, and spontaneous, searching for pleasure and avoiding life’s difficulties if they can. Quite often, they believe it is their responsibility to keep everything and everyone up-beat and positive, and this can involve making jokes when serious issues arise or reframing something difficult into something positive and full of possibilities. In addition, 7s are among the least intense of the 9 enneagram types.
Type 8 | 8s are among the most serious of the 9 enneagram types, facing important issues directly and with intensity. In fact, 8s come across as intense even when they are saying very little.
Question Approach | head versus body
Do you process most experiences through your mind or through you gut /body?
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Type 7 | 7s, an enneagram type formed in the mental center of intelligence, have minds that work like no other type on the enneagram. Here is a brief summary: minds that process data so swiftly that others can hardly keep up with them; minds that connect, at least from the perspective of others, ideas that are not obviously related and then synthesize them into innovative ways of thinking; minds that move to pleasure and possibility instantaneously. As a result of their highly active minds and also because of it, 7s process almost everything through their minds.
Type 8 | 8s are the most body-oriented, gut-trusting of all the types, even more than 9s and 1s, the other two enneagram types formed in the body center of intelligence. 8s process almost everything through their bodies, and they trust their guts unequivocally in almost all situations.
Question Approach | optimism versus realism
Do you think you are a more optimistic person or a more realistic person? Would others agree with this?
Listen for this
Type 7 | 7s are the most optimistic of the 9 enneagram types. They are wired to think of the positive and not the negative, to reframe potentially negative thoughts and experiences into positive ones, and almost always have a constant smile on their faces. Their motto: ‘Don’t worry; be happy.”
Type 8 | 8s are the most realistic of all 9 enneagram types. They live on solid ground, are strongly rooted, and value the idea that they deal with the real world in real time with real issues. Although some 8s can be optimistic at times, most 8s perceive constant optimism as not living in the real world. As a result, they tend to appear more serious, smiling when something specific delights them or pleases them.
On my website, The EnneagramInBusiness.com, there is a special section titled “Enneagram Style Differentiators,” where you can click on two different types to read about how they are similar and different. This section may stimulate additional differentiating question you can ask. Click here to be directed to this section.
Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, the author of four 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: The Enneagram in Business.com. firstname.lastname@example.org