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The Enneagram and Relationships - Types 1 - 4

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The Enneagram and Relationships - Types 1 - 4

The Enneagram can be very beneficial in relating with others, particularly those with whom we have lasting relationships whether they be at work, in our families, or in other arenas of life.

Here are a few tips for getting along with the nine Enneagram types.  These are adapted from an article originally written by Peter O’Hanrahan – Building Better Relationships with the Enneagram.

I notice, in writing the paragraphs below, that they all recommend adjustments to our own behaviour and expectations as we strive to have good relationships with others.  This is difficult when we are upset at, fearful of, or shamed by another’s behaviour.  At those times, it is best to pay attention to what is triggering us and our own unspoken needs.  As they say on airplanes, we need to take care of ourselves first, then we are in a better position to help others.  But there are also times when we are open to changes we can make to help in a relationship.  Unfortunately, the default behaviour choice at such times is what we wish others would do for us.  Even when we are trying to listen, we usually do it through our own filter, and this can compound miscommunication and relationship issues.  Knowing the different Enneagram types is extremely helpful because we can look through the lens of each type and consider changes we never would have considered before.

Types one through four are listed below.  Types five through nine will be covered in the next blog.

Type Ones have an inner desire to be good or perfect and to help others to be at their best as well.  On the upside Ones tend to focus on quality, improvements, structure and integrity.  They want to fix, to teach, to improve things and people.  On the downside, this desire often shows up as criticism.  Simply recognizing that their criticism usually comes from a desire to help and is not a personal attack can go a long way toward improving a relationship with an Enneagram One.  Taking their criticism, concerns, or instruction with appropriate seriousness is a way of receiving what they are giving.  You don’t have to agree with a One, but when they see something wrong, they often feel a responsibility to bring it to the surface and will keep at it until they are heard.

One of the primary motivators for Type Twos is a need for connection with and approval by others, which often shows up as a need to be needed.  The upside of this behaviour is obvious, Twos are great helpers.  They are great at reading people and situations, and they give of themselves, their abilities, their time, and their hearts to reach out to and care for others.  Problems can develop when others do not want or appreciate Twos and what they have to give. Like Type Ones, appropriately valuing or receiving what Twos have to give helps assure them that you value the relationship as well.  You may need to set boundaries about how and when you are willing to connect, but it is important to value connection with a two within those boundaries.

Type Threes are driven by a desire for success, which shows itself in the accomplishment of goals and tasks.  They are results focused and usually get a lot done quickly and well.  Threes like competition and often rise to the top in whatever arena they are in.  This focus can rub people the wrong way, particularly if they are not as interested in competition or do not work as quickly as a Three.  It can also seem that Threes ignore their own and others’ feelings in their rush to get things done.  Appreciating what they accomplish is a great step in developing a good relationship with a Three.  As well as recognizing the value of getting things done quickly for yourself and others, allow a Three to inspire you to accomplish more, and don’t take their impatience too seriously.

Type Fours value and desire deep, authentic connections with others.  They want to confirm their own uniqueness and help others to find theirs. Fours can be great empathizers, understanding and accepting the feelings of others.  Enneagram author Suzanne Stabile likes to say that Fours are the only type that can be with others in their pain without desiring a change in the situation.  Fours also shine at bringing out beauty and deeper meaning.  They can be great decorators, artists, or just appreciators of the artistic parts of life.  But it can be a struggle to relate to a four when you just want practicality and are not seeking a lot of feelings or deep connection.  Fours can easily feel wounded or react with an angry outburst when others don’t share their values for uniqueness and authenticity.  As with the other types we can have better relationships with Fours when we value their emotional sensitivity and ability to find beauty and meaning in life.  We can also accept their emotional highs and lows without taking them personally or feeling that we have to bring their emotions into a range where we would feel more comfortable.

Look for types five through nine in the next Growing Deeper Blog.

Read 735 times Last modified on 14.01.2020
Sam Drew

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