Playing Well with Others at the Cube Farm (part 2)

iScribe is a red-headed amazon writer, collager, ballroom dancer obsessed with journals and anything of an organizational nature. Currently the proud owner of a hip Hipster. Enneagramically she's a very healthy Type 2, with a strong 1 wing. iScribe has a line to 8 which only comes out when she's shooting back tequila. She also has a line to 4 that peeks out in glee when she's at her favorite nightspot, the Necropoli. But those remain fairly dormant until such circumstances arise.


Last week I introduced the not-widely-known concept of the Enneagram and how it can be a useful tool in discovering more about yourself. This week we take that knowledge and show you how you can use it to relate and work better with others. I admit this is not for everybody. Some people would rather stick their heads into the proverbial sand rather than work on bettering themselves or changing negative behaviors (i.e.: “That red stapler is MINE! MINEMINEMINE! Nooo touchy!”). Why? Well, to be blunt, looking at oneself can be pretty darn scary, that’s why. We have a personal image to uphold in our minds and to notice any cracks in that reflection could feel a bit defeating. Besides, so many of the motivational brew-ha-has your company drags you to are more about focusing on working HARDER and FASTER, not necessarily HAPPIER.

Wings, Lines, Who Am I?
Before you can relate your own personality type to your coworkers, there are 2 more concepts I need to review. Not all of the nine personality types of the enneagram are alike. How can this be, you ask? Well, as you can see by the geometrical shape of the enneagram, there are 9 points representing the types. However each type also takes on attributes of the numbers to the immediate left and right as well. These are known as “wings” and they flank each type. Wings give each type additional strong traits. Each person’s type also contains lines that connect types to each other. These are known as “lines”. Lines contain hidden traits that exist in a personality. Not everyone has two wings to call their own, or lines for that matter. It all depends on the individual.

Let’s put this into an example by placing myself under the microscope. It’s rather equivalent to showing up late for class without your clothes on. **ahem** I am a primary Type 2 Caregiver. I protect and care for the ones I love and would rather be an irreplaceable supporter to a leader than be in the spotlight 24/7. Looking back at the enneagram, this also tells me that I have a type 1 Wing. This Wing represents my idealistic behavior, my blunt opinions, my willingness to teach and my strong code of ethics. Do I have a Wing to 3? No, not really. I’ve taken an extended 100 question enneagram personal assessment with a friend and with their blunt and honest help, they helped me identify my traits. As a result of this test, I can say this with assuredness that my Type 3 traits are barely existent. The only hint is my eerily daily plug into pop culture. You repeat a quote from a movie and my IMDB (my brain) shall rattle off the title without hesitation. Cannot remember the name of an actor? Beep! Whizz! Whirrrl! Ticka-ticka-DING! There it is. No need to Google, I am at your service.

My lines are also barely existent. I have a line to 8 which does appear when I have tequila. Before my friends astonished eyes, I suddenly appear to grow quite the pair as I’m willing to go head to head with an obnoxious person by calling them out whenever they’re wrong. I do have a line to 4, but it’s faint. My close friends who are the Unique Type 4’s joke that it’s dotted. This line shows my inquisitive nature and my passion for the collage and paper arts. However, just because these lines are faint does not mean I cannot work on developing them more. You can develop your lines and wings to their full potential if you do the work.

So, there you have it. I’m a Type 2 with a 1 Wing. No extra accessories. And I fly funny.

Learning to type other people takes a bit of practice. I use popular t.v shows and characters from books to exercise this knowledge. My friends and I typed all sorts of characters from Peanuts, Winnie the Pooh, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Carnivale, Smallville, you name it. And do not be surprised if the Enneagram becomes part of your vocabulary. It’s like speaking in code. "Wow, that new boss is quite the Type 6, 7 Wing don’t’chya think?" "I so love my new cube mate, she’s a Type 4 like me!"

The Triads
Now that you have a more rounded view of people according to the Enneagram, we move onto the Triads. The triads help define a person’s observed behavior. To figure out what triad a person falls into, locate their primary personality type from the following group. Then look down under that group to see how these people functions and tips on interacting with members within. Learning what triad a person fits into can help you understand how to relate and work with them and their personalities. The three categories are:

The Feeling Group (2, 3 and 4)
The Mental Group (5, 6 and 7)
The Sensing Group (8, 9 and 1)

The Feeling Group
Twos, Threes and Fours compose the Feeling Group. These types focus on emotion on a personal level. Twos care very much about how others are feeling, almost to the point of being eerily empathic. Fours focus more inward than in relation to others outside themselves, as they are not afraid to truly look within to see their own lights and shadows. Threes set their feelings aside for it’s the job at hand and the success they’ll achieve which is their main concern.

When you’re dealing with one of these three types remember to cater to their feelings. Become more involved in their personal mental state. Say “Thank you” or “I appreciate you” to a Two for all their hard work and you shall have continuous support and loyalty to boot. Praising a Three for their accomplishments is the best motivation you can give them. Don’t try to pigeon-hole a Four, allow them to blossom in their uniqueness to keep their moody nature at bay. I’m not advocating LYING to any of these Types because they can sense it, just be honest and sincere in your appreciation.

The Mental Group
Fives, sixes and sevens live in the Mental Group. These “idea people” live to find new solutions to old problems that would stop the world on a dime. Information gatherers, these Types are visual, as well as focused on security (personal and in the work place). They are also a slight contradiction, as they would rather get directions from a leader who earned their authority than take the lead from their own inner boss.

These Types want to understand all the facts before making a definite decision, so don’t push. If you push, Fives will go inward like a tortoise to his shell. Sixes vacillate and run from confrontation. Sevens ignore their fear and play it off with jokes. Simply trust in their abilities to conceptualize and create new ideas without being condescending or threatening.

The Instinctive Group
Eights, Nines and Ones define the Instinctive Group. These types are very willful. They learn from personal experience. Telling them how to do their work in a particular way won’t work on them. Sometimes naturally stubborn, these Types make decisions in their own time. A quick way to instigate a power struggle would be to try and control them. A War of Wills, so to speak.

Eights push for their own way and their own way alone. Nines tend to be avoidant if threatened. Ones can be very self-righteous and condescending as they instigate the “correct way” to do things “by the book”. When poked, these Types have been known to get quite angry. So keep this in mind: Don’t Poke The Bear. Let them figure things out for themselves and offer help only when they get stuck.

If provoked, Eights can’t hold it in, they literally combust when angry. This means they take their anger out on the people around them. Nines, when angry, appear like they’re not, but when their comfort level rises you will see them become more and more stubborn, perhaps even under-the-radar snarky (ie: passive-aggressive). Ones simply become angry at themselves and refer back to the rules as a way to re-establish some sense of structure and to validate their opinion.
So again, do NOT POKE THE BEAR. To deal with this category of co-workers, simply be honest, non-confrontational, but FIRM. Eights will respect you, Nines will understand you and Ones will appreciate you "walking the talk" of your corporation.

As you can see, there’s almost an endless way you can use the enneagram to relate yourself to others. Once you figure out everyone’s type, you can apply the advice I gave you from the Triads to relate and play along with others better. These three categories also help you to narrow down more about your coworker’s personality type by observing their behavior, as well as understanding their motives as to why they react to things a certain way. I recommend that you look into reading one of the books at the end of this article to learn more about all the different facets of the enneagram that I have not covered in this series. Some of these concepts include health levels and subtypes. It’s my hope that I piqued your curiosity to research the enneagram so that you can use this tool as a way to anticipate coworkers' behaviors and help quell incidents at the Happy Happy Cube Farm.

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