Thursday, February 18, 2010

Enneagram Speaking Styles: Get Your Message Across

According to a famous study, people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of death. Whether we have to speak to a work group or a professional association or a large crowd, many of us are anxious about speaking. And as we know, when we are stressed, we may “stomp on” or exaggerate our point (type.). And in the process, lose the point... of our talk. Knowing our Enneagram speaking style can help us avoid the trouble areas of our own type and get out of the way of the message we want to deliver.

Each Enneagram type has a “default” style of communicating, particularly when speaking to a group or audience. We certainly have the ability to access styles other than our default when we are conscious and aware. However, when we go on auto, when our personality runs us rather than we run our personality, we fall into our default method of communicating with its strengths and its pitfalls. We naturally would like to maximize our strengths and minimize the pitfalls that will cause our message to be misinterpreted or not heard at all.

It is also helpful if we can expand our communication talents to include those of the other Enneagram types. When we can avail ourselves of different ways of communicating, we have the option of matching the style to the appropriate situation or group. All nine styles work well in given situations. We don’t want to be limited to our personality’s “default” mode, when another style may work better. Let’s examine the speaking styles of each of the nine Enneagram types.

Speaking Styles: Pitfalls and Strengths

Type One - The Perfectionist

Speaking Style: Sermonizing

Strengths - honesty, integrity, doing it well, getting it right, detail oriented. Want to be good.

Pitfalls - can preach or sermonize (because its right!), can get so lost in the details that lose your listeners or don’t ever do a speech because it isn’t right yet. Can be inadaptable so never change your message for fear it will be wrong.

Be in service of the message rather than in being right. Know when it is good enough. Don’t preach or sermonize, there really is more than one right answer; they’ll turn you off if you preach, anyway.

Type Two - the Giver

Speaking Style: Warmth

Strengths - empathy, a caring compassionate bent, orientation toward relationship and service. Ability to connect quickly.

Pitfalls - pride in all of the above, I am giving you so much so be grateful. Over-emoting. Get lost in the emotional stories and lose the audience. Shape shifting to be liked - can seem wishy washy.

Humility - these folks were doing ok before you got here. Give the best you have to offer without attachment. Use stories in service of the message. True empathy involves knowing when to back off. Just because you believe you know what they need doesn’t mean they want it.

Type Three - the Performer
Speaking Style: Convincing

Strengths - ability to sense what the audience wants and shift/change message so it will be heard. Can sell anything. Charming and facile. Quick. Inspirational. Usually very good on stage.

Pitfalls - may not have own message. May be strong on style and low on content or actual message. May seem too slick, too polished. Audience doesn’t trust. Can cut corners and slide through. Pretend to know more than do.

Be clear on your message, don’t cut corners but learn your topic well. Figure out where you stand so don’t lose self in trying to be successful at speaking. Give credit to others.

Type Four - the Romantic
Speaking Style: Lamenting

Strengths - Unique point of view, dramatic, often very skilled on platform in delivery, sensitive and creative. emotional.

Pitfalls - can be overly dramatic, can be so attached to uniqueness that audience doesn’t relate, speaking style of lamenting. Can be lost in emotion and lose audience like the Two.

Use drama to accentuate your points; if it doesn’t enhance the message, get rid of it. Ask others you trust if too much drama, emotionality that are not in service of the message. Be wary of separating yourself from the audience - unique so they could never hope to be like you.

Type Five - the Observer

Speaking Style: Dissertation

Strengths - depth of knowledge about a topic, often are the expert in what they speak on, ability to observe acutely and describe well, superb humor - often dry, well read - will probably know what all others have said/written on the subject. Can systematize information well.

Pitfalls - Can have speaking style of dissertation. Can quote everybody and not reference self, can seem detached or not present, may withhold information. May give too much information and wander the labyrinths of the mind.

Watch for quoting too many, too much: as Plato said, as Clinton once said. Quote yourself - put yourself in it. Pare down information to what really serves the message; not everyone wants to explore it in the depth that you do. Be present while speaking. Use observing and humor skills. Simplify.

Type Six - the Loyal Skeptic
Speaking Style: “Shotgun” or Apologetic

Strengths - loyalty, duty to people or a cause, especially underdogs; healthy skepticism, can sense hidden agendas, prefers group to spotlight often. Antiauthoritarian.

Pitfalls - doubt own message so unclear, push cause down others throat, can be overly pessimistic: doom and gloom if you don’t change, senses hidden motives and danger where there are none. Can use shock techniques due to ambivalence toward authority. Talking in short shotgun blasts.

See yourself in service to the underdog cause of the message. That means clearly defining what the message is. Don’t try to shock or bring out listener’s true feelings. Slow down speech,. Highlight an optimistic feature. Don’t push causes - illuminate them.

Type Seven - the Optimist

Speaking Style: Enthusiastic storyteller

Strengths - Storytelling, humor, optimism. Great reframers - of everything. Upbeat high energy people who emphasize work etc. as fun. Can draw parallels and similarities between very unlike things. Adventurous, enjoy life to the fullest.

Pitfalls - Can become too attached to own stories, can make a story out of a mundane trip to the post office which may not be relevant. May seem pollyannaish to audience, so won’t trust you. Overemphasis on fun may lose audience. Can be dilettantish - know a little about everything, but not a lot about any one thing. Can use too much humor.

learn topic really well - don’t get distracted by other things. Use humor and stories in service of the message. Don’t reframe everything - take a beat first. Insert a little downside, then the plan to deal with it. Be sure the parallels and connections you make are relevant and helpful.

Type Eight - the Boss
Speaking Style: Commanding

Strengths - clear direct, straightforward. Forceful. Able to communicate message by sheer will. Honest and just. What you see is what you get. Good at direction - inspires by sheer will. Large energy and presence. Instinctual knowing - from the gut. Clarity.

Pitfalls - Too in your face - pushy, bull in the china shop. Too attached to my truth is the Truth and there is no room for any argument. Too little backup information. I know from my gut.

Filter speech through heart and mind. Consider impacts of speaking, recommendations, etc. Recognize dissenting points of view - and allow them. Do homework to back up instinctual knowledge and flesh it out.

Type Nine - the Mediator

Speaking Style: Epic, Conciliatory

Strengths - Able to see all points of view and hold them equally. Merges with audience energetically - we are all one. Non-threatening, comfortable. Easygoing charm.

Pitfalls - Epic nine way of speaking where extraneous details and unimportant info cloud the message. The speech has no point, holds all points of view without a conclusion. Can have laconic way of speaking that puts people to sleep. Passive verbage may lose people - e.g. “ how leadership happens to you”. Won’t compute to rest of us.

Define the point of the message and be clear about it. Be careful of the tendency toward passive verbage. Don’t fall asleep on stage - go on automatic. Beware of epics - keep coming back to the point. We don’t need the whole story.

Remember, no matter which of the nine types is your Enneagram type or dominant speaking style, if you get lost in your own story (personality), you’ll lose 9/10’s of your listeners. If you speak from your strengths or gifts and allow these to serve the message, they’ll hear you.


Margaret Harrison said...

I find your writing about the Enneagram very understandable and I like the pictures you have chosen to depict characteristics (feel) of type. Thanks for what you are doing.

Serenity said...

This is an excellent post. I like how you've concisely broken down the 9 types and their unique style of communication and delivery. This is especially relevant for my husband and I as we belong to a Toastmasters (public speaking) group. Your summation of the Four was spot on for me (I CAN be too fixated on being different from the audience!) and I could also see my husband's pitfalls as a 9 (sometimes he really doesn't have a clear message and sticks to platitudes). Anyhow, thank you for this. May I ask if you used a reference/source for your post or if it is something you analysed yourself?

Lynette Sheppard said...

Thanks, Serenity, for your kind words. The material is my own take on the Nine types and their speaking styles (and is in my book, The Everyday Enneagram.) I taught a number of classes with a speaking coach to professional speakers. She analyzed some of their pitfalls from a speaker perspective and I worked with them to speak from their authentic selves vis a vis Enneagram type rather than trying to be look alike Threes. Which is only successful if you are a Three. Through my time working with these wonderful speaking professionals, I was able to hone in on some of the things that trip them up within their types as well. Thanks again for writing, I hope I get to hear you speak sometime.