Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Finding Enneagram Type Via Hallmark Characteristics

It can be baffling when one is trying to determine his/her Enneagram type. We try to find ourselves in the lists of characteristics. Some fit from all of the types, others don’t fit at all. How can we sift through the information and find our home base vis a vis the Enneagram?

First of all, we do not have to exhibit all the characteristics of type for that to be our type. The Enneagram describes an internal terrain, a world view. Still, initially we may have more success in narrowing our search for type by finding what characteristics resonate rather than seeing our worldview. Our worldview is so much a part of our Enneagram filter that we might not see it at all until we have had ample time for self-observation.

All characteristics do not have the same weight or importance, when describing Enneagram type. Listening to numerous panels and self-aware exemplars of Type, I’ve noted what I call a Hallmark characteristic for each of the Nine types. While it can be helpful to look at lists of characteristics; the Hallmark seems to be the Big Dog. Finding the Hallmark characteristic might help you (or your family, friends, and cohorts) to discover type more easily.

With that in mind, here is a partial list of characteristics plus the Hallmark characteristic for Types One, Two, and Three.

Type One - The Perfectionist


º Compulsive need to act on what seems correct
º One right way, black and white thinking
º Relentless stream of self-criticizing thoughts
º Mentally comparing oneself to others and concern
about criticism
º Belief in one’s own moral and ethical superiority
º Procrastination stemming from fear of making a
º Do-gooder. Do what “should” be done rather than
what one wants to.
º Trapdoor phenomenon - pleasure escape valve
º Scorched Earth policy - scrap whole project and start over if even one small part is wrong.

In the case of the Perfectionist One, the hallmark or defining characteristic is the relentlessness of the inner critic. Many Ones describe it as a critical Voice that constantly evaluates, judges, and harangues the Perfectionist. Some Ones are critical of other people, other Ones keep their critical thoughts to themselves. Regardless, every Perfectionist seems to suffer from an ongoing, internal critique through nearly every minute of every day.

Type Two - The Giver


º Gaining approval and avoiding rejection
º Pride in importance of oneself in relationship: “they’d never make it without me”. Being indispensable

º Pride in knowing and meeting others needs
º Giving to get - the hook.
º Confusion in identifying personal needs.
º Altering self to please others
º Making a difference to others lives, the world, etc.
º Hysteria or anger when emerging real needs collide
with the needs of the others that one serves.

The defining characteristic for the Giver Two is the need to become central, even indispensable to another “chosen” individual. One Two went so far as to explain, “It’s almost as if I establish my center in the person I am interested in being important to.” Whether in work, friendship, or intimate relationships, the Giver believes that those significant to him/her would never make it without the Giver’s help or support. The unconscious drive of Pride underlies the Two’s sense that s/he alone knows what the significant other needs, and s/he will provide it.

Type Three - The Performer


º Goal is everything.
º Efficiency
º Competition and avoidance of failure
º Love comes from what you do rather than who you are
º Feelings suspended until job gets done
º Presentation of image that’s adjusted to gain approval.
º Multitasking - do several things at once
º Run over others to get to goal, apologize later

The defining characteristic of a Performer is excessive identification with his image or that which he produces: “I am my image” or “I am what I do.” The feeling that underneath the image or productivity is a “black hole” of nothing is the hallmark of a Three. The Three believes that he has sold us a package of goods: himself. Fearing that he is nothing but a fraud, the Performer must keep doing, producing, selling, dazzling to keep from being found out.

These are the hallmarks as I’ve heard them described. Let me know if this resonates for you, if you already know your type. We learn more about type through self inquiry, self observation, and subsequent sharing of insights gleaned through these processes.

I’ll be sharing characteristics and Hallmarks for the other six types in upcoming blog entries.

(material adapted from The Everyday Enneagram book.)