What is the Enneagram?

The Enneagram is a model with nine different personality types, each with their own particular strengths and weaknesses.

What Are The Enneagram Personality Types? How The Enneagram System Works.

The Enneagram is a system and personality typology that attempts to describe human personality traits into a number of interconnected personality types and sub-types. While it's not widely accepted in the scientific community, this typology system is used by many successful people and organizations for both personal and spiritual growth.

The Enneagram symbol is comprised of a nine-pointed diagram with connecting lines. Each line connects at point, each point represents one of the nine Enneagram personality types with its own specific characteristics. Visually, the Enneagram figure or diagram is made up of three type elements and is composed of a circle containing a triangle and an irregular hexagon.

The most common version of the Enneagram has only nine personality types. Beyond that, the system becomes increasingly complex and includes 27 subtypes as well as three key "centers" focused on thinking, feeling, and instinct.

How do you know your Enneagram Type & Triad

A study of your personality type can be an enormous benefit when it comes to improving your life. Knowing your natural strengths and weaknesses provides a framework for understanding your goals and find a more fulfilling path to achieving them.

Each of the nine distinct personality types is characterized by a set of dominant fears, behaviors, and motivations. It can help you understand your type (and yourself) it helps you to better manage your emotions, focus on achieving your goals, and find work that's ideally suited to your personality.

Your Basic Type

According to Enneagram theorists, you have one primary type and one primary wing. In addition to their primary type, two wings, these three personality subtypes are formed as a result of both inherent traits and environmental influences. Different traits shape how people respond to their experiences, while experiences also help shape traits and characteristics.

Your Neighboring Types

The Enneagram is a model that also states that no one is just a single absolute type, that people do not change. Instead, personality is a mix of the basic type plus at least one or two adjacent types are known as “wings.” These wing types are neighboring personalities can influence the overall personality, however, they do not modify the core type.

According to Enneagram theory, people don't change from one type of personality to another. However, not all elements of personality types are always expressed — types are always fluctuating based on different conditions such as their level of health and deeply rooted habit patterns.

You may identify with the traits of all types, however, the modern Enneagram offers that there is a dominant type that you return to under moments of stress.

After taking an Enneagram test, some may learn which basic type best describes their personality. Depending upon the test, they may also discover one or two additional types that also contribute to their overall personality.

The Three Centers Of Intelligence & The Nine Types

enneagram of personality

The nine Enneagram type descriptions are all known by both their numbers and their names. They are all connected by the lines of the Enneagram. Each type may have their own strengths and their own weaknesses. Below is a short description of the types:

Type 1. The Reformer

Type One is principled, purposeful, and perfectionistic. They have a strong sense of what is the “right” and “wrong” way to do things.

Type 2. The Helper

Type Two is generous, people-pleasing, and possessive. They have a strong desire to be loved, putting the needs of others before their own.

Type 3. The Achiever

Type Three is adaptable, driven, and image-conscious. They may place more focus on success instead of feelings, however are excellent communicators.

Type 4. The Individualist

Type Four is expressive, dramatic, and unique. They can cultivate a rich, romantic fantasy life and are the type most likely to succumb to feelings of inadequacy. 

Type 5. The Investigator

Type Five is perceptive, innovative, and secretive. They have a smart and logical approach to life but never feel they know enough to participate with total confidence.

Type 6. The Loyalist

Type Six is responsible, anxious, and suspicious. They are the most out of touch with their own sense of inner knowing and confidence.

Type 7. The Enthusiast

Type Seven is spontaneous, versatile, and scattered. They tend to be extroverted, highly adventurous, and great at maintaining a positive attitude.

Type 8. The Challenger

Type Eight is self-confident, confrontational, and decisive. Being action-oriented, they are sometimes seen as domineering and aggressive.

Type 9. The Peacemaker

Type Nine is receptive, reassuring, and self-complacent. Dislikes disagreements, they may ignore their own desires and needs just to ensure peace is achieved in the group. 

Many Enneagram Uses

The Enneagram also has both personal and professional uses, and is a primarily a tool for self-knowledge. It is a way of self-discovery for revealing personality patterns to yourself. My understanding of the Enneagram is this powerful tool for understanding the personalities of others and (most of all) your own.

Possible Applications

  • Personal growth and development

  • Team building, leadership development, and Interpersonal communication.

  • Successful relationships are created at work and in other life areas.

People can look for ways to better relate and communicate with their partners by gaining insight into their individual strengths and weaknesses.

The Enneagram has also been used within the field of organizational psychology to help improve employee productivity. The test is used by businesses to help their employees understand group dynamics. 

Tips for Using Enneagram Test Results

The Enneagram has become known in recent years thanks to the rising popularity of online personality tests. It is often thought of as a tool for self-analysis and self-improvement because it addresses weaknesses and faults as well as strengths. By recognizing these areas, people can work towards becoming more self-aware and achieving greater self-actualization.

Personality is itself very complex and a mere online test will not enough to tell you everything about your personality, your interior motivations, and behaviors or your strengths, and weaknesses. That type of work is done afterward. Remember, personality tests are meant to be fun and interesting, but be careful not to take your results (or yourself) too seriously. 

If you are determined in taking just one Enneagram assessment, I would highly recommend the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI) and you can find it at the Enneagram Institute website. You can purchase a single-use code for $12 to take the test. However, I offer a free Enneagram 2-Question Test on my website. 

Working With The Enneagram System

There are a few things to watch for when taking an Enneagram test or even reading more about your type:

  • Some have found the Enneagram to be useful, but it has also been criticized for being overly vague and difficult to test scientifically. Which makes sense. Because a questionnaire gives you one result. And it doesn't tell you how to interpret the data you have been given. 

  • These tests can be fun and interesting, but if you plan on using the Enneagram as a long-term tool for self-development, take the time to learn about all of the types, how each may respond in different situations, then make your own decision. 

I have been studying the Enneagram since 2012, and have never been a huge fan of the tests. Because there is a tendency for some to over-identify with the type. Or worse using the results to label the behavior of others. 

Knowing your Enneagram Type means you are at starting point for gaining greater personal insight and self-awareness, not an endpoint to make excuses for behavior patterns of yourself or others. 

History of the Enneagram Teachers

It is something of a mystery as to the origin of the Enneagram of Personality. It very well may date back to the time of the ancient Greeks, however, its exact history is in dispute. Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism are some of the different spiritual traditions that are included in it.

George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, a philosopher, Enneagram Teacher and mystic is credited with bringing the Enneagram describes the figure to the attention of the world, although he did not use it to categorize the types. And it was Oscar Ichazo, Enneagram Author and founder of Ichazo’s school for human potential and self-development, who assigned different personality types to each one of the nine points. Then, psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo expanded upon the theory of the Enneagram works to expand the nine types in psychological terms.

That being said, have you ever wondered what your personality type is? Take the 2-Question Enneagram Quiz and sign up for my curated weekly newsletter