The Enneagram personality test has emerged as a hugely popular model and tool for individuals to understand themselves and communicate with others. We explore the new craze for knowing ‘your type’…
If in the last year, you have heard friends, colleagues or family members referring to themselves as a single digit number, or a ‘type’, you may have encountered the Enneagram model. Although the concept of typologies with the Enneagram has been around for decades, there has been a recent surge in interest in its thinking and proposition. Its structure is made of nine ‘types’ of personalities, numbered from one to nine, each with a different approach to life, a pattern of thinking, key qualities and defining characteristics. The personality model illustrates how each type differs, including their motivations, basic fear, causes of stress, strengths and weaknesses, and even communication styles.
Although varied approaches to the Enneagram use subtly different language, one thing remains consistent: the nine types have distinct behavior and thought patterns, all as a result of motivations that we aren’t conscious of. David Fauvre is one of the leading experts on Enneagram and has worked with the personality model for over three decades. “I’m a psychologist, I’ve seen about every self-help model and tool out there over the years, and I have never found one that is as effective or revealing as the Enneagram. It seems to point to something that is biologically based, and I believe people are born their type, so it really gives you a road map to understand your genetic personality type.” David explains that despite there being many theories on personalities being defined by nurture, rather than nature, in recent years this has been disproven. “It was originally hypothesized that our personalities were formed as a result of our parenting and our childhood environment, and they now know that that is largely a myth. People’s personalities and temperament are almost entirely genetic.”
Liz Perez, a counselor, and certified Enneagram expert, hosted an event in Nashville, organized by Spero Dei, which spent time looking at each individual ‘type’ and how identifying which type you are can assist you in life. Liz believes that the popularity of the Enneagram is due to a level of reassurance that we are not alone in our behavioral patterns. “That is a big consideration, because I think that we do want to know we are unique, but a lot of us feel that we aren’t alone and that we aren’t the only ones [that think a certain way].”
Liz also explains that Nashville is emerging as a hub for the Enneagram. “It’s becoming a hotspot, and a big part of this is that people are just bumping into it and it’s becoming used more and more. Therapists are using it, churches are using it, organizations are using it, so I do think that people are finding it to be a very good tool for connection, understanding themselves, and understanding other people. I get asked to come in and help companies a lot because you are working with a team and sometimes people feel misunderstood, or confused, and there needs to be understanding.”
“I do think that people are finding it to be a very good tool for connection, understanding themselves, and understanding other people…”
The different personality types are a method to understand how you (and others around you) experience the world. When you are aware of your personality type, you are able to better understand the unconscious way that you see the world and others around you. The Enneagram has been around since the 1970s, but both Liz and David agree that there has been a surge in interest in the Enneagram in recent years. “I’ve been involved in Enneagram since the early 1990s and throughout most of my career, when I told people what I did, they had no idea what I was talking about. [Nowadays] the millennial generation are extremely interested in knowing who they are,” remarks David.
I personally believe that the rise in popularity of the Enneagram is due to its steps towards self-improvement. The difference between this personality model (compared to Myers Briggs, for example, which shows the way you process thought rather than behavioral motivations) is that it offers tangible steps and strategies for personal growth. A significant portion of the conference hosted by Spero Dei was illustrating the ways that individuals can understand the quirks of their personalities and work on a journey of development.
Inherently, if the Enneagram model is used correctly, it’s a powerful tool to be compatible with others, as we can better understand the driving factors behind their actions and thoughts. “At the end of the day it breeds compassion for yourself and for others,” says David. “As we understand difference, we can forgive it. I think in that way, as this [younger] generation is very focused on diversity and inclusion, the Enneagram is really the ultimate diversity tool, it goes past race, gender or sexual preference. It shows you the deepest level of who you are.” Liz echoes this perspective. “I think it gives us things that we can do, rather than just defining us. It’s more than that. Growth is hard and change is hard, but this can give us the tools. The Enneagram also really impacts relationships [for the better], it can be a game changer, as it can give you compassion for each other.”
“If the Enneagram model is used correctly, it’s a powerful tool to be compatible with others, as we can better understand the driving factors behind their actions and thoughts…”
Take the test and find out your type:
David Fauvre is one of the leading Enneagram experts in the field and has spent years curating an accurate personality test. “One of the biggest problems for people is getting their type right. One thing that concerns me tremendously is that the vast majority of people coming to the Enneagram at this point are online, and they are taking the free quizzes that have popped up. To create an accurate Enneagram test is quite a sophisticated, difficult and takes years.”
The different types, according to the Enneagram model. David outlines the nine types, with the key characteristics of each type being driven by language used by individuals themselves.
Enneagram Type 1:
Perfectionist, Reformer, Judge, Crusader or Critic
Enneagram Type 2:
Giver, Caretaker, Helper, Nurturer, Advisor or Manipulator
Enneagram Type 3:
Performer, Motivator, Achiever, Producer or Status Seeker
Enneagram Type 4:
Individualist, Artist, Over-Analyzer, Mystic or Melodramatic Elitist
Enneagram Type 5:
Observer, Investigator, Thinker, Sage or Voyeur
Enneagram Type 6:
Loyal Person, Devil’s Advocate, Skeptic, Guardian or Rebel
Enneagram Type 7:
Epicure, Entertainer, Optimist, Adventurer or Rationalizer
Enneagram Type 8:
Leader, Solution Master, Maverick, Protector or Intimidator
Enneagram Type 9:
Peacemaker, Mediator, Naturalist, Accommodator or Abdicator