The Enneagram is a typology of nine basic personality types, each expressing distinctive and habitual patterns of thinking and emotions. Beyond the basic nine types there are a number of layers that can be explored for greater nuance. The Enneagram as it is used now is a development of modern psychology with ancient roots. Each school or author has their own perspective and emphasis, though they are more similar than different.
By recognizing our personality patterns we can use the Enneagram as method for self-understanding and self-development, as well as for understanding others. The Enneagram can help highlight the underlying goals, strategies, and assumptions we each have and in that way help us to create bridges in communication and understanding when differences arise.
Below are brief descriptions of each Enneagram type from the website My Personality Manual, which has a quick test for finding your personality type as well as a customized and fun owner's manual for yourself.
Type Ones have a refined sense of what is right. They live and work according to their conscience and principles. They prefer to keep their emotions under control, though they can be moved to speak out about what they think is right. Because of their sense of responsibility and drive toward excellence, Ones can put a lot of pressure on themselves and those around them. This may lead them to sometimes express their thoughts as judgments and criticisms.
Type Twos are people-people with big hearts. They are very good at seeing and empathizing with the needs of others, readily offering a sympathetic ear, support, and advice. Emotionally, Twos prefer to be upbeat and look at the world through a positive and compassionate lens. They can be verbally and physically demonstrative and enthusiastically express their appreciation and love. Twos may suffer when they disregard their own needs and limitations and focus only on helping others.
Type Threes work hard to achieve their goals and to be successful. They are good at seeing what's possible and figuring out how to get the job done efficiently. They value and know how to make a good impression. Emotionally, Threes contain their feelings while offering a friendly and optimistic face to the world. They have difficulty acknowledging their deeper feelings, and their absorption in their own pursuits can lead them to overtax themselves and the people around them.
Type Fours are sensitive to their internal and external worlds and seek to creatively express their unique perspective on the human condition. They are highly intuitive and sensitive to the beauty and emotions around them. Fours abhor the ordinary and strive to add their aesthetic refinement and style to whatever they do. They can be warm and compassionate and supportive of others, but their intense emotional world can lead them to feel lonely, isolated, and misunderstood.
Type Fives are curious and use their powers of observation to develop detailed understandings of the world. They enjoy mastering an area of interest or a skill. Reserved and minimalists by nature, Fives enjoy independence and freedom from obligations. They have a calm and serious demeanor, and find it challenging to express their emotions. They prefer straightforward communication without drama or repetition. Fives feel overwhelmed by busyness, loud people and places, and by strong emotions.
Type Sixes create mutually beneficial relationships and systems for themselves and others. They are responsible, hardworking, and loyal, and tend to be practical problem solvers. They naturally anticipate difficulties which makes them good planners. Sixes experience many emotions though they may not openly express them all. Their fears and doubts can make decision making difficult. Some Sixes are more direct and assertive, seemingly drawn to what they otherwise fear as a way to conquer it.
Type Sevens naturally tune in to what is exciting and share their enthusiasms with others. They are uninhibited, adventurous, and comfortable taking risks. They can be idealistic and want to make a contribution to the world. Independence is very important to them, and they do not like to feel obligated or limited. Emotionally, Sevens focus on positive emotions and avoid painful feelings and boredom. Due to all their activities, Sevens may become easily distracted and scattered.
Type Eights have lots of energy and confidence, and savor challenges and making a big impact. They easily assume responsibilities and work to resolve difficulties with a take-charge, practical approach. They value loyalty and are protective of the underdog. They can be generous and pursue their appetites with gusto. Eights are often direct and blunt, even intimidating at times. They are people of passion, easily expressing their enthusiasm and joy as well as their disappointment and anger.
Type Nines are understanding of different perspectives and can see where there is common ground. They are open-minded and calm, and they can be very diplomatic. They prefer harmonious situations and being supportive while avoiding or mediating conflict. They focus on the positive, though underneath their peaceful exterior they may feel more anxious or upset. Their sensitivity to others makes it difficult for them to always know where they themselves stand, and they may seem spaced-out or distant.