The Enneagram of Personality, or just Enneagram, is a system of personality typing that describes patterns in how people manage their emotions and see the world. The name Enneagram has a Greek origin, Ennea means nine and Gram means diagram. This powerful tool can help us harness and transform self-limiting behaviors into life enhancing personal development.

The origins and historical development of the Enneagram are not exactly known but there is some similarity in ideas dating all the way back to Babylon around 4500 years ago. There have been quite a few people that can be credited with the creation of the Enneagram as we understand it today but for the sake of brevity for this post, we will leave identifying all of them for another day.

The Enneagram defines nine personality types which are represented by the points of a geometric figure. It consists of an outer circle on which nine points are numbered clockwise. There is a triangle between points 9, 2 and 6 and an irregular hexagon which connects the other points. The circle represents that wholeness of human life while the other shapes represent how it is divided.

According to the Enneagram, each of the nine personality types is defined by a particular core belief about how the world works. The core belief drives our deepest fears and motivations. While our core beliefs are not necessarily incorrect, they can limit us in how we see the world. Understanding our Enneagram type helps us to see why we view the world the way we do. With this understanding we can learn to broaden our perspective and approach situations more effectively. The Enneagram also helps us to understand how we react when stressed or when we are in a good frame of mind. The Enneagram highlights opportunities for personal development and provides a solid foundation for understanding others.

In business, and sales in particular, an understanding of a person’s Enneagram type helps us to see why they behave the way they do. By just considering that people have different ways of seeing the world you will be able to relate to prospective clients more effectively. Sometimes a buying behavior that seems contradictory or confusing might become clearer when considering a potential Enneagram personality type.

The Enneagram is ultimately simple and complex. To help stay on the simple side at the moment here’s a basic explanation. The Enneagram can be seen as a set of nine distinct personality types, with each number on the Enneagram representing one type. It is common to find a little of yourself in each of the nine types but one of them will stand out as being the closest to your personality. This is your basic personality type. Note that not everything in your basic description will apply to you all the time as we fluctuate constantly among the healthy, average, and unhealthy traits that make up our personality type. No type is inherently better or worse than any other type. All personality types have unique assets and liabilities, and the ideal is to become our best self.

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

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

Type Three is adaptable, 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, acquisitive, and scattered.

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

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

The first step is to complete a questionnaire that will help you identify your basic personality type. Each personality type has a level of development within healthy, average and unhealthy areas. As we become more aware of our levels of development we can move up to healthier levels.

Everyone is a mixture of their basic personality type and usually one of the two types on either side of their number on the Enneagram circle. These adjacent numbers are called Wings.

Your basic type dominates your overall personality, while your wing complements it and adds elements to your total personality.

There is also an element that is called Centers. The Enneagram is a 3 x 3 arrangement of the nine personality types in three Centers. These three centers are the Instinctive Center (gut), the Feeling Center (heart) and the Thinking Center (brain).

Each type is connected to two other types by two lines. We always stay our main type but we can move across these lines in times of stress or growth. For instance, a type 8 personality will move towards type 5 in stress and type 2 in growth. Knowing about these tendencies helps us to better manage both our stress and our growth.

Stress Movement

Growth Movement

Understanding and using the Enneagram symbol is the key to knowing ourselves on a deeper level and accepting that other people see the world differently than ourselves.

This ancient resource has much to offer as we seek to understand ourselves and those around us more fully. As we gain an appreciation for the gifts each of us brings to the table, along with the limitations and problems that are associated with each of the nine numbers, we can offer ourselves and the world far more compassion and understanding.

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Please join us on August 24th as Carol Swanson breaks down the Enneagram and shows us how we can use it in our daily lives and in our sales processes.

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