Socrates, our favorite Greek philosopher, is known and revered for the Socratic Method, but did you know that he’s also the author of one of the shortest and sweetest phrases we’ve all heard? γνῶθι σεαυτόν – Know Thyself.
How important is it to know ourselves and others, especially as it relates to the business world, working within a team, and engaging with clients? The answer to that question may be subjective but WebPunch believes that understanding ourselves and each other can be highly meaningful and extremely rewarding.
Two members of WebPunch’s Review Response Team, Karin (me) and Lindsay, hit the streets in order to gather information about personality types. Fortunately, we are also FIRL (friends in real life) and when we’ve had coffee (which is always) we can talk about this kind of stuff for hours. Our families really love it.
There are lots of personality tests out there such as Myers-Briggs and DiSC, along with about one billion other tests, and I’m sure they all have something to offer. But over the last few years, I’ve been drawn to the Enneagram, both because it seems to really capture more of the nuances of personality and because it’s rooted in ancient wisdom traditions.
This past summer both Lindsay and I were part of a book club that worked its way through “The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery.” Ennea-what? It is an odd name, especially if you’ve never heard it before but now that you have, you’ll begin hearing it more and more. Just remember, we told you about it first. There’s even an ennea-app you can install on your phone but that’s only for serious ennea-nerds, which we totally are, but I digress. Lindsay and I are currently doing a weekly study called “The Enneagram Journey” with about 20 other people so I guess you could say we’re all in!
First, some background about the Enneagram:
“Stemming from the Greek words ennea (nine) and grammos (a written symbol), the nine-pointed Enneagram symbol represents nine distinct strategies for relating to the self, others and the world. Each Enneagram type has a different pattern of thinking, feeling and acting that arises from a deeper inner motivation or worldview.”
The Enneagram fosters greater understanding through a universal language that transcends gender, religion, nationality and culture. While we are all unique, we share common experiences. As representatives of each type tell their personal stories in the Narrative Tradition, we see that the ways people meet life’s challenges and opportunities fall within the nine personality types.”
Here’s what the Enneagram looks like:
And finally, here is a basic list of what each number represents on the chart. I say basic because people can go extremely deep into the Enneagram or just barely scratch the surface. We really believe that even the smallest bit of self-awareness goes a long way! And…the disclaimer is that we all possess each number, at least in part; but we do have one number that is most dominant. It’s also important to keep this little tidbit in mind,
“Determining our personality type through the Enneagram does not put us in a box, but helps us see the box from which we experience the world. With this awareness, we can step outside of our limited perspective. Ideally, personality is an effective way to express ourselves, but challenges arise when our point of view becomes rigid and we get stuck in automatic habits. By discovering these unconscious patterns, we can lead more fulfilling lives and enjoy healthier relationships.
Type One – The Perfectionist, Achiever, or Reformer
The Rational, Idealistic Type: Principled, Purposeful, Self-Controlled, and Perfectionistic
Type Two – The Helper or Giver
The Caring, Interpersonal Type: Demonstrative, Generous, People-Pleasing, and Possessive
Type Three – The Performer, Motivator, or Achiever
The Success-Oriented, Pragmatic Type: Adaptive, Excelling, Driven, and Image-Conscious
Type Four – The Individualist, Romantic, or Intense Creative
The Sensitive, Withdrawn Type: Expressive, Dramatic, Self-Absorbed, and Temperamental
Type Five – The Investigator, Observer, or Thinker
The Intense, Cerebral Type: Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive, and Isolated
Type Six – The Loyalist, Guardian, or Skeptic
The Committed, Security-Oriented Type: Engaging, Responsible, Anxious, and Suspicious
Type Seven – The Enthusiast or Dreamer
The Busy, Fun-Loving Type: Spontaneous, Versatile, Distractible, and Scattered
Type Eight – The Challenger, Confronter, or Leader
The Powerful, Dominating Type: Self-Confident, Decisive, Willful, and Confrontational
Type Nine – The Peacemaker, Preservationist, or Mediator
The Easygoing, Self-Effacing Type: Receptive, Reassuring, Agreeable, and Complacent
So….what’d you think? It’s very likely that something in those descriptions jumped out at you, even with this cursory glance at the nine types. Sometimes it’s easier to know by the negative aspects of each personality what number you are; it’s whichever description makes you cringe the most. For a more in-depth review of each type, you can click here. You can delve much deeper into things like triads (head, heart, gut), wings (the type on either side of your number), stances (aggressive, withdrawing, dependent) and so much more. See? You can dive into the deep end of the ennea-pool or float on the shallow surface.
Imagine what it would be like if you knew the personality type of each person you employed or worked with. It might make it easier to give specific types of projects to someone who is best suited for them. Maybe you’d begin to discover that a few people on your team thrive in stressful situations while others enjoy a more peaceful environment. You might find it helpful to know what motivates your employees; are they motivated by a need to prove their strength? by a need to understand? by a desire to impress others? by a need to be affirmed? by a need for security? Oh, the many choices!
Do you want a dutiful employee or an energetic go-getter as part of your sales team? Do you want someone who is agreeable or someone who is more dominant to manage the front desk? Remember Buddy the Elf? He’s most likely a Type Seven who wouldn’t really enjoy sitting at a desk all day because he’s too busy having fun and being spontaneous. It makes much more sense to have a detailed and focused individual to handle the more technical aspects of your business. But Buddy sure does work well with others! How about Glenda the Good Witch of the North? She must be a Type Two because she’s always there to help Dorothy and give her exactly what she needs. And how about Dorothy herself? She presents as a Type Nine; one who dislikes conflict and interpersonal tension and just wants to get safely home where everything is familiar.
In a nutshell, according to the Enneagram, there are nine very distinct ways of seeing the world and each type has their own strengths and weaknesses. When we learn to recognize that we all see the world through our own lenses, in addition to our individual life story, we can become aware that our way of seeing is not the only way. We can start to understand why so and so does things this way and why someone else does it that way. Not better, just different. Not either/or but both/and. When we’re able to consider each others’ point of view and way of relating, it only serves to make the entire team stronger.
Sandra Smith, Certified Enneagram Consultant has this to say about the Enneagram in the workplace:
“The greatest resource your organization has is your employee team. Research indicates that productive organizations employ a workforce that interacts with high emotional intelligence; colleagues are self-motivated, manage themselves productively, and interact with others effectively and with respect because they “know” themselves at a deep level.”
No personality test is the end-all-be-all but anything that can provide a deeper sense of self and a better understanding of others can only be beneficial in the workplace as well as life in general. Take time to get to know yourself and your team – you’ll be glad you did! We hope you’ll feel free to let us know what number you think you are – we’d love to know!