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Topic of the month | idle chatter

Topic of the month | idle chatter

Words that are thought or spoken “with no purposeful intent at all” ~ Thanissaro Bhikkhu

What words fall into the territory of “idle chatter?” Doesn’t all chatter have a purpose? Bhikkhu’s concept of purposeful means a positive intent and, therefore, a positive purpose for all – the person thinking or speaking, the listener, and those not present, yet impacted by the statements. Here are some ways in which people of each Enneagram type tend to engage in idle chatter, often without recognizing it as such.

Enneagram Ones | judging
Whether or not Ones recognize it, a continuously judging mind, even if the words are not spoken directly, is often perceived by others. And continuously judging oneself, even if its purpose is to keep Ones from going down the wrong path or making mistakes – which may be perceived as positive in some ways – can be self-debilitating and a movement against self-acceptance. When directed at others, a judging mind, whether spoken or unspoken, also elevates the judger and separates the judger from the other.

Enneagram Twos | gossiping
Twos would be chagrined to perceive themselves as gossiping about others, but they do. It has a purpose: to exchange information about another and to create a relationship with the receiver of the gossip. It also creates an implicit exchange: “I share gossip with you; you share gossip with me, so we have a special relationship and some secrets between us.” It has a second purpose for Twos: to unload some of their repressed thoughts and feelings. However, these are rarely directed or shared with the person about whom the Two has these thoughts and feelings and can, intentionally or unintentionally, turn the receiver of this chatter against those not present.

Enneagram Threes | competing
It’s not that Threes are competing all the time, but they are frequently comparing themselves to others to see where they stand. And Threes may also use this form of idle internal chatter when someone else does nor affirm the Three’s self-concept of being the highly competent and capable person they want to think they are. When this occurs, Threes can have a plethora – a word Threes like to use – of negative views about the other person and these may get shared with a third party or even a group.

Enneagram Fours | expressing feelings
Fours like to tell stories – especially ones that are full of feelings – about themselves, even if it is just to themselves and not shared with others, for a number of reasons: to understand themselves more, to savor the somatic experiences that go with their feelings, to be better understood by someone else, to connect with another person’s experience, and more. But they do this so often and, while it is sometimes satisfying, does this form of talk actually lead to deeper development? If not, perhaps it is idle chatter masquerading as authentic conversation in monologue form.

Enneagram Fives | internal analyzing
Fives can analyze just about anything and for long periods of time. But what is the intent of this and is the intent truly purposeful in that it supports the Five’s growth and development? Interesting, perhaps? Productive? Well, that could be something worth analyzing internally!

Enneagram Sixes | venting
Sixes may not admit to this, and they say do this more internally than externally, but Sixes do have a tendency to complain about people, their own lives, outside events, and more. When they do this externally, it is as if this form of talk is like a vent for air to escape. But hen, more air fills it that then also needs to escape. Perhaps that is why it is called venting. But is it idle chatter? It rarely feels idle to a Six, but the questions to ask is whether venting is truly productive. Venting primarily recirculates pre-existing air rather than creating new, fresh oxygen.

Enneagram Sevens | talking continuously
Most Sevens talk continuously, even if it is not always done out loud to others. Some Sevens even talk out loud in their sleep. The function of this constant talk is to release thoughts in the mind so that new ideas can emerge. But is anyone truly listening to all the talk? Does this form of idle chatter bring people closer? Does it bring the Seven closer to his or her deeper interior world?

Enneagram Eights | strategizing
Eight are the master strategists of the Enneagram, strategizing about how to make sure things are under control or fair and trying to get a sense of the influence and power systems so that they, the Eights, can leverage this for their own position or for the common good. Although this form of thinking – whether done only internally or if expressed – might appear to have an important purpose, does it really when it is done so frequently? When the mind is in continuous chatter about anything, no matter how much value it might seem to have, the mind is neither clear in terms of being mindful nor available for other thoughts to emerge.

Enneagram Nines | schmoozing
Nines are the expert schmoozers, able to talk about a multitude of topics in an easy-going way in order to develop rapport with another person and to relax both parties, especially the Nine. This form of schmoozing can go on for extended periods of time and it does have a purpose: rapport and relaxation. At the same time, it can become idle chatter, distracting both parties from deeper conversation, conversations about important topics and even true intimacy.

Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, the author of seven 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

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