ENNEAGRAM: How the Enneagram Personality System Works


Unlike other personality systems you may have encountered, the Enneagram personality system is a numerical system which categorizes people into nine basic personality types. Although it is common to find a little of yourself in all nine of the types, one of them – your basic personality type - will stand out as being the dominant one. The Enneagram system has very real-world value as large organizations and corporations have been known to use it as a means of anticipating individual's reactions to certain situations which may be stressful.

Throughout a person’s lifetime, his or her basic personality type will not change. What will happen is that as you grow and develop, certain traits may soften or become more dominant. The descriptions of each of the personality types are gender-neutral and universal.

Why numbers? The Enneagram uses numbers to designate each of the types because numbers are value-neutral. They provide an unbiased, shorthand way of indicating a lot about a person without passing judgment. One important thing to note is that the numerical ranking of the types is not significant. No one personality type is superior to the other – each has its own assets and limitations.

Interestingly though, each personality type can be perceived as more desirable than the others in a specific culture or group. For example, in Western society, one particular type may be more desirable, not because of the superior value of a particular type but rather because it has the qualities which that particular society rewards.

Each personality type can be summarized in four-word sets of traits. Bear in mind that these are merely highlights and in no way represent the full spectrum of each type.

Type One is principled, purposeful, self-controlled, and perfectionist.

Type Two is demonstrative, generous, people-pleasing, and possessive.

Type Three is adaptive, excelling, driven, and image-conscious.

Type Four is expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, and temperamental.

Type Five is perceptive, innovative, secretive, and isolated.

Type Six is engaging, responsible, anxious, and suspicious.

Type Seven is spontaneous, versatile, distractible, and scattered.

Type Eight is self-confident, decisive, wilful, and confrontational.

Type Nine is receptive, reassuring, agreeable, and complacent.


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