Enneagram Q & A

Click on a question to see the answer:

Q1. What is the Enneagram?

The Enneagram is a unique tool for understanding the personality and motivating personal development and spiritual transformation. As a system of nine personality types, the Enneagram identifies nine distinct ways we view the world. So much conflict—in intimate relationships, in the workplace, and in our world as a whole—begins with believing others should think, feel, or act the way we do. Did you know that these nine distinct orientations toward life can be found in every culture and in every era of known history? Understanding your primary type will reveal the underlying beliefs, coping strategies, desires, and fears that drive your life.

The good news is that we are not locked into these personality-based patterns. Unlike typing systems that “diagnose” or label people, the Enneagram recognizes that we each have all nine types within us, but have become stuck or fixated in a specific way. The Enneagram provides a map that helps us find the way out of our limiting behaviors and attitudes, giving us freedom to make more conscious choices. As we learn about the nine types, our compassion for ourselves and others expands. We discover new ways to resolve conflict and actualize our potential, resulting in healthier relationships and greater productivity in our work.

Q2. How do you pronounce “Enneagram,” and where does the symbol come from?

The word “Enneagram” (pronounced “ANY-a-gram”) comes from the Greek “ennea” meaning nine, and “grammos” meaning shape or figure. The geometric symbol, which includes a triangle and a hexad circumscribed by a circle, has nine points. Its ancient origins are thought to date back at least 2500 years, possibly much earlier, and the mathematical theories underlying its geometry echo those of Pythagoras.

The symbol was first brought to North America in the early 20th Century by G.I. Gurdjieff, though he did not correlate the Enneagram with the contemporary personality types. Independently, in South America in the 1950s, Oscar Ichazo synthesized ancient and modern insights gleaned from his travels and research to describe the nine types. The Enneagram of Personality results from Ichazo’s inspired discovery: the correct placement of the types on the Enneagram symbol revealed their correlation to each other and creates a map for nine different journeys of self-discovery.

Q3. What are the nine personality types?

While each type can be expressed at healthy and unhealthy levels, Riso and Hudson provide just four type descriptors for each type to show a spectrum of healthy-to-average characteristics:

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The Reformer Principled, purposeful, self-controlled & perfectionistic
The Helper Generous, demonstrative, people-pleasing & possessive
The Achiever Adaptable, excelling, driven & image-conscious
The Individualist Expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed & temperamental
The Investigator Perceptive, innovative, secretive & isolated
The Loyalist Engaging, responsible, anxious & suspicious
The Enthusiast Spontaneous, versatile, acquisitive & scattered
The Challenger Self-confident, decisive, willful & confrontational
The Peacemaker Receptive, reassuring, agreeable & complacent

Obviously, no personality structure can be reduced to four words--these are simply clues to help you find the starting point for your journey. Your Enneagram type does not define who you are; it describes your basic desires and fears and the ways you get stuck. Even our positive traits can catch us up if they are overdone or misused.

Your journey begins when you correctly identify your type. As you become more self-aware and are more able to observe your patterns without judgment, you will find that entrenched, unwanted habits begin to let go. While we don’t change from one type to another, we will be able to integrate the higher aspects of the other types so that the limitations of our personality no longer dominate our experience. Liberation from outmoded views of ourselves clears the way for further expansion of our capacities and fresh self-discovery.

Q4. Can I have more than one type?

Think of the Enneagram as a color wheel, where red blends into orange, which blends into yellow, which blends into green, etc. You may score high in two types: one is probably your type, and the other one might be your “wing,” a variation on your type. The two types MUST be adjacent to each other on the Enneagram symbol to be accurate.

If you score high in types that are not adjacent to each other, check to see if a line on the Enneagram connects the two. Each of the personality types occupies a particular point that relates to the others in a unique way. A free consultation can help you correctly identify your type and wing. You may also look for more detailed information about the types by checking out the Resources page.

We all have the capacity to get “unstuck” and cultivate the healthier qualities of all of the types. Understanding your type and its relationships to others on the symbol makes it easy to recognize your strengths and areas for growth so you can cultivate more balance in your life and work.

Q5. What if I can’t find my type?
If you can’t find your type, you may at least be able to narrow it down. Once you learn more about the types, you will be able to discriminate between them more precisely. The Enneagram Institute website, www.enneagraminstitute.com, has comprehensive descriptions of the types, including relationship compatibility issues that arise between the types. For a personal approach, however, you may wish to bring your RHETI results to your Nine Journeys free consultation.
Q6. How can I get a quick overview of the system?
Go to the Services page.
Q7. Where can I learn more?
Go to the Resources page.

Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live
without and know we cannot live within.

                                                   ~ James Baldwin


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