The Enneagram FAQ
Enneagram FAQ: the main questions asked by people new to the enneagram
The easiest solution is to take an Enneagram test. But beware, only 50% of people identify their type with only a test. In any case, only a work of introspection can confirm that you belong to one of the 9 types of the enneagram. This introspection can be done through reading books or specialized websites (see our description of the 9 types). It is best to conduct this introspection with an Enneagram professional. Please note, these “specialists” are numerous and do not all have the same expertise. Another more economical solution is to take online training. However, in the end only you can confirm your type. Who better than you can know you?
At first it is quite natural to find yourself in several types. First, because each of us has characteristics of all types. However, you do have a dominant type, even though this type may be more or less conscious. Indeed, the enneagram points to automatic behaviors, which we no longer pay attention to. On the other hand, the enneagram is dynamic. Thus, you are influenced by other types of the enneagram (The wings, the levels of integration …).
We also tend to confuse behavior and motivation. Some types may be behaviorally similar, but will stand out if you look at the motivations behind these behaviors. Effectively the types of the enneagram are determined by motivation and not behavior.
You should also not be forget that a behavior can be explained by the situation and not necessarily by the personality of the person (implicit theory of personality).
Finally, if you still have doubts, you may be type 6 or 9. One because he is always in doubt, the other because he tends to know himself little.
However, in any case, a thorough reading of each type will allow you to identify your type. Do not hesitate to be assisted by a professional.
Although we can express behaviors of many types, our type formed in childhood remains dominant throughout our lives. We are also influenced by other types of the enneagram (the wings, the types of integration or disintegration). But the point of the enneagram nonetheless is to become aware of and free yourself from automatic behaviors specific to our type. To be less dependent on it.
The parable often used with the enneagram is the set of 9 cards. You tend to often use the same card, which you think is the master, and unfortunately not to use some other cards. Thus the enneagram allows us to visualize other ways of doing or seeing things.
You acquired your type in childhood and it will not change.
On the other hand, you can mitigate the negative sides of your type, by becoming aware of certain automatic behaviors that are too rigid.
And besides, why change type? No type is better than another. Each type has its differences and its riches. To abandon a type is to lose the riches that belong to you and that make you beautiful.
Not at all.
Each type of the Enneagram has its own strengths and weaknesses. The ideal personality does not exist, and if we were all clones, the world would be sad.
What is important is not the type we express, but how we manage our type, our maturity and the energy used. I met a person who was doing 1. She only saw the negative parts of her type at first, and only the positive parts of other types. It’s natural. Yet it is essential to see that each type has its strengths and weaknesses.
No, not the enneagram model. On the contrary !
The Enneagram makes you aware of the possibility of unconscious automatic behaviors. It is this awareness that allows you to break free from the rigidity of certain ways of doing things. The enneagram therefore has a liberating role from inflexible behaviors that lock you up. We ourselves are the ones who lock ourselves in a box. The enneagram makes it possible to materialize that we are more than that.
While the description of a type may seem too caricature for some, it nevertheless helps to make everyone aware of the potential risks. Everyone reacts to it in a different way and that’s what makes each one unique.
What matters is not the type of person, but what the person does with it.
His maturity, his integration. Disintegrated types will actually get along better with certain other disintegrated types. But for the 2 partners or colleagues, the individual goal is to be more mature in their Enneagram type, and to better understand the difference, the otherness. From there, each enneatype can get along with all the other types. It is therefore the level of integration that must be taken into account.
So the enneagram will allow you to change your own behaviors in relation to others, because you will better understand how they work.
The same goes for choosing a career. The Enneagram can alert you to the characteristics of certain jobs. Barack Obama is type 9 and that did not prevent him from becoming President of the United States, did it ? The Enneagram will make it possible to define what are the assets for a job and what are the points that can present difficulties.
The enneagram offers the profile of 9 personality types (and a multitude of variants: subtypes, …), as we could classify people according to sex, weight, skin or hair color, or their extraversion.
Each person is unique, even if they all weigh less or more than 70 kg. It’s not a ranking that defines a person. There are all latitudes in every classification, and a classification does not define who the whole person is.
This is the risk of drifting through the misuse of the enneagram. Believe, that because you know a person’s type, you really know the person. It is wrong. Or reduce a person to a personality type. But each one has many other characteristics, a personal and unique history, and a life situation which belongs to him and which also defines him.
For three reasons: insufficient reliability, poor use and a questionable marketing approach.
As we have seen, only 1 out of 2 or 3 people can identify their Enneagram type with the sole use of a test. So if someone or an organism claims that its test is 100% reliable or more reliable than others, then you may have doubts about their intention. However, for example, here is what we can find on the web “This is why this Enneagram test was originally designed, precisely, to be more effective than other Enneagram tests”. Not very ethical, is it ?
The reliability of a test is already defined by its use and purpose. This is why in the world of pharmaceutical diagnostics certain biological tests are classified (intended purpose) as “diagnostic aid”. Because like the enneagram tests, we know that their sensitivity is not 100% reliable for diagnosing alone (DDimer, …). These tests must be accompanied by the opinion of an expert.
On the other hand, in the scientific world, a scientific product must be validated in a certain way, on a large population (remember the time required for the validation of the Covid vaccine). Go see the protocol used for the validation of our test. It takes a long time. So when you are proposed to take a test, it may be interesting to see if the web site allows you to access its validation (See our). However, so few people go down this road, the interest is limited.
Indeed by definition the reliability of an enneagram test can only be low. Because an Enneagram test identifies your motivations. But these motivations can be unconscious. And that, a questionnaire can not guess it. A test is only a reflection of your answers. Also the test can only be a support, an invitation to introspection, either personal (mandatory) or with the help of a professional.
So the right or wrong use of the test is going to be very important. We use our test as an aid in identifying the type of the enneagram. The answers given to the questionnaire will allow the coach to target certain “sensitive” points which will help to better define the type. If some people identify the first try, and after a few minutes the type of a person. Great ! Or danger! Personally, I am not able to do this. In fact, every coach is himself influenced by his own Enneagram type. His personal filter will prevent him from seeing certain obvious signs for other people.
The Marketing Approach
Finally, some organizations promote the oral tradition. I will not allow myself to criticize this tradition. It also has its advantages. Originally the enneagram was to be transmitted only orally. This was the mystical tradition of Sufism or Kabbalah (opinions differ on the origin). The first books on the enneagram in the 1970s were a revolution, like the well Claudio Naranjo indicate it in his book. It was Helen Palmer who set out to purge the enneagram of all spiritual and religious references and make it a branch of the human development movement.
Unfortunately, today the oral tradition has also remained a marketing approach. One way to differentiate themself. But the good thing about the enneagram is that it’s a tool that doesn’t belong to anyone … or it belongs to all.
4 indicators to measure the quality of a test:
- The objective of the test,
- An access to its validation,
- The number of questions
- and the way how results are presented.
The reliability of a test is relative. Depending on its objectives, a sensitivity test of 70% can be very good or very poor. Sensitivity close to 100% is required when a test is used for diagnostic purpose and alone. This is not the case with the enneagram test. An enneagram test must always be accompanied by an introspection with or without the help of a professional (internship, coaching, training …).
By definition, an enneagram test identifies your motivations. But it depends on your answers, and the test cannot guess your unconscious motives for you. Also, to my knowledge, it is not possible to find a 100% reliable test. Today the sensitivity of an enneagram test varies between 50 and 70%. Thus only 1 person out of 2 or 3 people find his type directly with an Enneagram test.
Thus the relative reliability of a test will depend on the transparency of the author of the test on its validation. Can you access this validation ? If not why ? See our validation
This reliability also depends on the number of questions in the questionnaire. A test with less than 10 questions seems very limited to me. We also offer a quick test on our web site, and I can confirm that the results remain very random (reliability close to 10%).
Finally, a test that just gives you an indication of your type, without indicating the score for each of the 9 profiles, is incomplete. Each individual is a component of the 9 profiles, even if one type dominates.
Now the only way to compare the greater reliability of one test versus another will be a scientific, blind comparison with a gold standard that can confirm the type of each respondent. Without this comparison, it is naive or ill-intentioned to characterize one test as more reliable or less reliable than another.
Within a company,
the enneagram is used with professional support for team building, management or leadership training. Today, soft skills are increasingly important in interpersonal relationships between colleagues, with employees, customers or suppliers. The harmony or effectiveness of communication depends on understanding situations and others, on our ability to adapt and on be flexible. It starts with a better understanding of otherness and therefore you have to start with yourself.
Many psychotherapists and coaches
also use the enneagram in their practice. The enneagram makes it possible to offer predefined frameworks of motivations and beliefs that are very useful for the implementation of their intervention protocols (hypnotherapists, etc.), and easy to understand for clients or patients.
Finally in a framework of personal development,
of introspection to get to know oneself better, the enneagram remains very affordable by everyone and at the same time for those who want to deepen a very wide field of investigation. Access to low cost online training today democratizes access to the Enneagram and personalized training / internships go much further for those who want it.
Type 1 :
Perfectionist (avoid anger, look for the perfection)
Type 2 :
Helper (avoid his own needs, look for helping people)
Performer (avoid failures, look for efficiency and successes)
Artist (avoid banality, look for the melancholy of ideal things)
Thinker (avoid inner emptiness, look for information and isolation)
Loyalist (avoid deviance, look for identification of potential risks)
Epicurean (avoid pain, look for nice opportunities)
Leader (avoid weakness, look for the justice)
Mediator (avoid conflict, look for inner peace)