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Tricky Typing

I really do love helping people sort out their types and doing so without any energetic pushing, just allowing the type to show up when the person is ready to see it. The more I work with people toward this end, the more I do this with ease and pleasure.

Recently, I was with a team of 12 people, helping them engage in identifying their types, then moving toward understanding and enhancing their ability to work as a team. Here are a few highlights of the typing process that still make me smile.

Person 1
One team member who holds a significant role within the team thought she was an Enneagram 5, yet there were some aspects of type 5 that she didn’t think applied to her. This is a person who is very thoughtful and knows the meaning and practice of self-observation, so her reluctance to identify with a type surprised me. In addition, she seemed to be very much aligned with the qualities of type 5, albeit at a high self-mastery level, so she did not always disconnect emotionally in real time, although this had been her life-long pattern.

Instead of reviewing characteristics of type 5 or even asking her questions that might help her become more clear, I simply asked this: “What is it you don’t identify with in terms of what you perceive as type 5 qualities?” And then I waited.

Her response: “I don’t need to be alone to recharge?”

My response (given in total curiosity): “What do you need to do to recharge?”

Her response (after a short pause for reflection): “I need to be alone.” She laughed, the team laughed, and they realized it was a “gotcha moment”. That wasn’t done to be a “gotcha moment.” It was a moment of purity and truth.

Person 2
Was he a type 9 or a type 5? He wanted to know! However, no amount of additional information or time was helping resolve this question. He searched; he just couldn’t figure it out. If he couldn’t, surely I couldn’t! Then he did something unexpected. He suggested everyone on the team give input into what they thought everyone else’s type was. However, I don’t work this way – that is, having others say what another’s type may be – and we didn’t have time for this anyway. I did suggest if he wanted to know what others thought about his type, we could do that. Although he said he was reluctant to ask for that much group time, he ultimately said OK, and so we went.

As you can imagine, the feedback was focused on “was he more like a 9 or more like a 5” until one team member had the insight and nerve to say: “Maybe not either type!” In curiosity, the team leaned in to hear what she had to say next. “Have you ever considered type 4? You’ve had some big dreams for yourself that you have not materialized. You are deeply sensitive and deep in feeling, although it may not be obvious from the outside unless someone knows you well. You’ve been in a job for many years that you are good at, but it is routine for you and, as a result, you seem to live in a world of nostalgia.”

The room became quiet, the person was visibly emotional, and he said, “I really do love melancholy. It is so sweet.”

It was a lovely moment to simply be there with him, with his process, and with his awakening.

Person 3
This person really thought he was a type 5 or a type 3 or maybe even a type 1. However, none of these types were that good a fit for him. He liked to learn but was not particularly emotionally disconnected and never had been. He was successful but didn’t care so much about this. Purpose mattered more than goals. He had high standards but was not particularly rule bound or inflexible. Hmmm. What was his type? I thought that this shouldn’t be that hard since he was highly self-aware, verbally forthcoming, and quite an appealing person who “felt” real (as in, without pretense). Perhaps those reading this already suspect what his type may be. As I was guiding him, I was simply open, not wanting to reach a premature conclusion or draw him to one.

One simple question, with a few follow-on inquiries, made his type clear: “Do you like risk?” YES! “Do you engage in risky behaviors and why?” TO TEST MYSELF! “How do you feel about adrenaline?” I LOVE IT!

There he was, a counterphobic 6 who was charming and talented with a soft charisma, a curiosity about everything including danger, and a lovely person to be around.

If I effort too hard, I can’t guide. If I am curious and spacious, we find!

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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