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Be wary of enneagram “experts”

Be wary of enneagram “experts”

What is an expert? An expert is a person with comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skills in a particular area. Although there can be experts in many areas and endeavors, how does one become an expert in the enneagram? Is this even possible? Learning the enneagram well and then being able to utilize it skillfully and accurately can take years of practice and experience. This would be increasing our expertise, and when ready, we all have to start teaching the enneagram in order to gain more expertise and proficiency. But having increasing expertise does not qualify someone as an expert.

Going to the websites of Claudio Naranjo, Helen Palmer, Russ Hudson and  Jerry Wagner – just to name a few Enneagram teachers as examples and not to be construed as disrespect to any others – the word “expert” does not appear in their descriptions of their work or in the biographies. Their books, experience and their internationally recognized names name speak  for themselves, so perhaps they don’t need to add the moniker “expert.” I would offer that they don’t think of themselves as experts because they know so well that the more they know, the more they learn and the more they learn, they know there is more to learn. With this more humble frame of mind, “expert’ does not apply.

Where I most often see the word “expert” used is on Facebook, particularly by people who describe themselves as Enneagram teachers in the promotion of their programs. When I see this, I do a double take, wondering who this person is, on what basis they use the word “expert” to describe themselves, and sometimes even look into their websites or programs to learn more about them. After a short review of their program or web-based information, I think more and feel more strongly about the cautionary message offered here: Be wary of enneagram “experts.” More specifically, think again if you are tempted to use this label in describing yourself. Certainly, more people may sign up for your programs or buy your books if you use this word, but is it a true and accurate label for anyone?

All this said, others who promote our work might use “expert” to describe us and in these cases, it hasn’t been something we asked for or gave our approval. When this happens in my work – for example, a client who introduces me in this way – I respectfully clarify that no one is really an enneagram expert because it is a deep system with so many layers and facets, but also because it is continuously evolving system. Hence, no experts!

So for those of you looking for grounded, humble, knowledgeable and skilled Enneagram teachers and professionals, be wary of enneagram “experts.” And for those of you who may call yourself an enneagram “expert,” my hope is that you consider the significance of this word in the dynamic complexity that is the Enneagram. Even enneagram teachers with 40+ of knowledge and experience don’t label themselves as such.


Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, the author of seven Enneagram-business books, is a speaker, consultant, trainer, and coach. She provides certification programs and training tools for business 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: TheEnneagramInBusiness.com | ginger@theenneagraminbusiness.com

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3 years ago

I like to say I’m an expert at stirring up drama. 8w7 here. Expert at taking responsibility for my mistakes as well. So says the few close to me. I agree though that when someone claims to be an expert on enneagram, outside of their own number, I dont believe it.

3 years ago
Reply to  Nora

We can only be an expert on our own personality. Otherwise we are not practicing humbleness.

Paul Wee
3 years ago

Thanks for the reminder Ginger. This has stuck with me ever since I heard this on the first day I had the pleasure of meeting you! 🙂

Mette Hvied Lauesen
3 years ago

I couldn’t agree more!

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