Personality types

There are a number ways that people’s personality types are assessed. Briggs Myers is a useful workplace tool. Choleric, sanguine, melancholic and phlegmatic is a more ancient method. There is another ancient code that focusses more on relationships of all kinds and that is the Enneagram. The symbol for which is shown below.

This flexible philosophy, not only describes a person’s personality, but also shows different parts of their personality at stress points and high performance points. There is also the shadow point, which is the part of our personality we may like to reject and the ally point which inspires to be positive. Ideally these things should be in balance.

Here are the nine types:

One – The Perfectionist

Ones want to get things right all of the time. Critical, idealistic and judgemental of others and even more so of themselves. At best honest and upright, excellent at criticism and what is right. At stress point four they can melancholic or envious instead of sticking to their principles. High performance point seven when they can be more imaginative and seek alternatives.

Two – The helper

Twos are sweet people pleasers who are relationship orientated. They are helpful and supportive. They have a strong sense radar for emotions and long to be supportive of people they attach themselves to. Stress point at eight is when they become bossy and domineering. At high performance four they look to themselves to make new paths for their lives on their own

Three – The Producer

Three’s get the job done. They are energetic, enthusiastic, and competitive. Others see them as a bit fake and selfish but they can be good leaders and problem solvers. Stress point at nine they become indecisive and passive instead of proactive. At high performance they are more introspective and thoughtful.

Four – The Connoisseur

Fours love beauty and good taste, they seek the truth but never really find it. They look for the authentic and hidden deeper meanings in life. Stress point two, they are dependent and excitable, high performance one leaves them sticking to solid facts rather than passionate emotions.

Five – The Sage

Fives want to be intellectual and be self-sufficient. They detach themselves emotionally and gather information. They can be remote, but also respect boundaries and can be brilliant in their field. Stress point seven, they are full of ideas, but less analytical. At high performance eight they can get involved and seek to make a difference within a group.

Six – The Trouble-shooter

Sixes are cautious, looking at negative aspects and trying to improve them by preparation and planning. They can be imaginative, sensitive and courageous in protecting those around them. Stress point three, they act without thinking about consequences. High performance nine becomes in line with the programme and work as a team.

Seven – The Visionary

Sevens are idealistic in planning, being positive in their endeavours, but don’t always finish the job and avoid closure. Stress point one, sees them sticking to one solution when there may be many others worth considering. High performance five concentrates on wisdom and thought rather than creating and discarding ideas.

Eight – The Top Dog

Eights want power and control, can be bullying but dynamic leader. They easily find confrontation and seek to win to get to the truth. They can achieve, but can be very protective of those under them. Stress point five, they can be sensitive and withdrawn. High performance two, they become protective and nurturing instead of more selfish.

Nine – The Mediator

Nines want to bring all people together with different shades of opinion. They can find it difficult to stick their own and can be regarded as bureaucrats, but can initiate team building. Stress point six, they can become suspicious and isolated. High performance at three, they can mobilised with a definite plan instead of one for all.

The Wings of the Enneagram are the personality types on either side of the symbol. By going clockwise you can discover the shadow side and anti-clockwise to discover the ally point.

The Shadow point is what we don’t like about ourselves and what we run from, but there are elements of our Shadow point which we can harness for good. If you accept your fears and stop running away from them, you can become powerful.

The Ally point is what motivates you, what you can make out of any situation even if it is bad. This where your dreams and aspirations lie.

Keeping the wings in balance is wise, deliberately exploring the shadow point can be a positive challenge and going to the Ally point gives hope for the future.

These ideas have been taken from an excellent book called The 9 ways of working by Michael J. Goldberg published by De Capo Press and Lifelong books in 1999.

I could go on about these ideas, but if you find them interesting I would advise looking at the above book or one similar.

One word of caution. These are theories and they are not absolute truth. They might be helpful in learning more about yourself and your potential. To stick rigidly to these ideas is not helpful, they can be an optional guide rather than a rigid framework.

Laird (2017)

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