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Enneagram typing | why is accurate typing so important?

One of the most challenging and important aspects of working with the Enneagram in any setting is “getting type right.” Here is why this matters so much.

Discovering type supports accurate self-observation
Mistyped people pay attention to the wrong things
Example: A type 6 who has been mistyped as a type 7 might self-observe for how his or her mind wanders or distracts when anxious, but may not notice the true source of the mind in constant action nor the pattern of thoughts. For type 7, the mind is in perpetual motion due to a number of factors: excitement, boredom and a need to feel stimulated, fear of limitation or restriction, sadness, and more. For type 6, the mind becomes activated through fear of all kinds and the mind creates anticipatory, worst case or alternative problem solving scenarios. The stimulus for the mental patterns, the patterns themselves and the source of this thinking is very different.

Deep psychological and spiritual development is directly connected to type
Wrong type means the wrong development path
Example: A type 5 who has been mistyped as a type 4 might come to believe that the psychological and spiritual work is to reduce being envious of others – that is, to minimize or relax the continuous comparisons of self to others – and to find more emotional balance. What has just been described is the journey of type 4. However, the deeper work for type 5s is fuller access to and present-time expression of emotional and somatic experience and to then integrate all three Centers of Intelligence rather than separating them from one another.

Relationships with others improve from knowing your type and theirs
Mistyped people misunderstand or misinterpret their own impact on others
Example: 2s who have been mistyped as a type 8 will misperceive their impact on others as believing that they are too angry or intense for other people – which could describe the impact of many type 8s – and not recognize that type 2s can come across as too invasive or as having an excessive, if masked, need to be liked.

Almost all applications of the Enneagram require accurate type identification
Improving leadership style, teams, interactions, conflict and coaching, just as examples, all require that people know their types
Example: 1s who have been mistyped as a type 7 can misunderstand their own leadership style as one that is innovative, thinking beyond the boundaries of most other leaders, when the 1’s leadership is far more systematic, organized, and focused on timely deliverables.

People need to have themselves typed accurately to teach type to others
Minimally, mistyped teachers typically teach two types incorrectly: the teacher’s real type and the type they think they are
Example: Even when teachers describe the types accurately through verbal language, when they share their own type and personal examples, the way in which they share these – for example, their speaking style, voice tone, and body language – are inconsistent with the explanation and more closely match the style they actually are, not the type they think they are. People learning the Enneagram pay less attention to the actual content and more attention to how something is communicated, thus causing type confusion. As a case in point, a type 3 who has been mistyped as a 9 may (accurately) describe the type 9 speaking style as sequential storytelling – that is, starting at the very beginning and telling a story in sequence until the end – but since the person is a type 3 mistakenly thinking he or she is a type 9, he or she may tell no stories or tell very short ones. The message about type-based speaking style, in this case, is incongruent with the person presenting the information.

The Art of Typing | This blog is an adapted excerpt from Ginger Lapid-Bogda’s new book, The Art of Typing: Powerful Tools for Enneagram Typing. In it, you’ll find infographics of the 9 different Enneagram Ego- structures, insightful questions and delightful illustrations to help differentiate between types, and other important factors to consider: overlays such as family, culture and gender, Centers of Intelligence, wings and arrows, Enneagram subtypes, and more.

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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