The enneagram has quickly become all the rage, from the memes flooding our social media feeds to the topic of conversation around the coffee pot in the breakroom.
The enneagram is one of the greatest personality assessment tools to understand yourself and others better, which ultimately leads to connection and compassion. But if misused, it can create a myriad of problems both personally and relationally.
These 4 enneagram ground rules serve as a guideline to avoid some of the common pitfalls that often accompany conversation surrounding the enneagram
1. Don’t weaponize the Enneagram.
“OMG, you’re being such a 3 right now.”
Using the enneagram to label someone because of their behavior is not constructive and at worst, dangerous. It’s not different then stereotyping, and how dare anyone to stereotype us!
When we weaponize the enneagram by labeling and stereotyping, we diminished the unique and nuanced human being we are speaking to or of.
We put them in the very same box we demand that others not put us in.
It’s easy to do and often we do so with no ill intent, but its effects are damaging.
Don’t weaponize the enneagram.
2. Don’t use the Enneagram to justify bad behavior.
“Well, I’m 4 so that’s just the way I am.”
We’re not 4-year-olds. Personal responsibility is, in fact, a thing in real life, so don’t use the enneagram to justify bad behavior.
Are type 8’s going to be more likely to get angry? Absolutely. Is it more in the nature of a type 3’s to manipulate a person or situation? You bet. Is a type 1 going to err on the side of judgment over grace? Sure.
But no one’s Enneagram type should be used as a justification for bad behavior.
Don’t use your type as a cop-out for poor choices. Don’t allow someone else to treat in you in a way that is not OK because of their “enneagram type.”
Don’t use the Enneagram to justify bad behavior.
3. Don’t tell someone else what type you think they are.
“I haven’t taken the test, I don’t know what type I am.”
“Oh you’re totally 7!”
None of us, not even the most highly trained and studied enneagram experts have magic powers to know what type someone else us.
You might have an idea, a well-reasoned hypothesis of what type they are, but for the love, don’t tell them.
The enneagram is a journey of self-discovery, personal and spiritual growth, it’s not for the faint of heart and can quickly become convoluted and confusing for an individual if people are asserting their own opinions of their enneagram type.
Even if you would bet the life of your firstborn on someone’s enneagram type, don’t tell them what type you think they are.
It’s a journey of self-discovery, don’t tell someone else what enneagram type you think they are.
4. Never use someone’s type to manipulate or exploit them.
Making an 8 on your team be the one to have a tough conversation because they “like conflict” is not a cool thing to do.
Each type has its own beautiful strengths and weaknesses, proclivities and tendencies, but it is completely inappropriate, out of line, and unacceptable to utilize your knowledge of someone’s enneagram type to exploit or manipulate them.
I feel a little passionate about this one (if you couldn’t tell) because I have painstakingly watched it happen and it’s incredibly damaging.
I don’t believe that most of us set out to manipulate exploit someone for their enneagram type but it can happen subtly and subconsciously.
That is why it is so important to continually grow in self-awareness, be in tune with the Holy Spirit (yep, I went there) and be very careful when it comes to the enneagram.
Whether it’s in your marriage, friendships or with your colleagues, never use the knowledge of someone’s enneagram type to exploit or manipulate them.
Meredith is a Nashville native blogger & podcaster behind "The Other Half: Real Life That Doesn’t Make the Highlight Reel."