Playing Well with Others at the Cube Farm (part 1)

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.

“You cannot pick your family but you can pick your friends.” There's a lot of truth to that statement. Your friends, whom you hold currently in high regards, had to go through quite an extensive interview phase. How much do you have in common? Are they ethical? Do they value a sense of humor or geeky intelligence? Can they down a pint in less than 5 seconds? Crucial info here. However, your Family is a different entity altogether. You’re stuck with them, sometimes for better, sometimes because you have to.

The same goes for your office mates. Coworkers, I believe, fall into the Family Category. When you start at a new office or acquire a new neighbor to peek over the cubicle threshold at your activities, it’s like being invited over to the in-laws. Or worse, gaining a little sister who adores to micro-manage your every whereabouts and who-za what-zits. You don’t pick them; they are tossed upon you. Like a family, coworkers can make you enjoy your job or turn it into a living hell. And like a family, it takes years to learn everyone’s quirks, pleasantries and issues. Unfortunately for most of us we don’t have years to train our coworkers to know our insides and outs. Heck, we don’t WANT years, we want to learn how to get along with our cube mates NOW.

That is where I come in dear readers. Other than working for a corporation, in my spare time I lead a non-profit nature club. To acquire said leadership I was put through years of rigorous training only to graduate at the top of my class. And one of the many skills my teacher taught me was how to implement the psychological savvy of the Ennegram into my new found leadership skills. This knowledge of the 9 Personality Types has opened my eyes on how to approach people and how to motivate them. But most importantly, how to deal with their issues without taking it personally. I'm no licensed Enneagram Expert. Yet what I’ve learned has truly assisted me in anticipating people’s behavior and how to work well with them, as well as, figure myself out as to why I react the way I do. And I'm passing my knowledge onto you so that you, too, can have help learning how to deal with your coworkers and yourself to make life at work happier.

This two-part article shall teach you not only what the Basic 9 Personality Types are (including examples) but how you can apply this to your life at work. This week, we start out with the basics. Before we start, let me stress that this is NOT astrology and I shall not subject the reader to “All Leos / Pisces / Scorpios are alike” etc. Nine personality types exist, but so do Wings, Lines and Health Levels. In other words, do not judge a type as the end all of its Type. Savvy?

The 9 Personality Types in a Nutshell
1 – The Reformer
2 – The Helper
3 – The Achiever
4 – The Individualist
5 – The Investigator
6 – The Loyalist
7 – The Enthusiast
8 – The Challenger
9 – The Peacemaker

1 - The Reformer:Type Ones very much see things in black and white. There is right and there is wrong. Very ethical, idealistic and judgmental, on a healthy level Type Ones can be excellent teachers. On an unhealthy level they can be anal-retentive, micro-manage sticks in the mud. Will from “Will and Grace” and Giles from “BtVS” are prime examples.

2 - The Helper: Type Twos put everyone else’s needs before their own as being helpful is more important than getting the credit. A thumping heart of compassion, these people can be very supportive bosses who actually appreciate what you do or a coworker who is a self-important saint and only gives to get. The ultimate Slayer herself, Buffy, is a Type 2. As fans will recognize, her health level would drop when she would get into the self-important saint mode. Yet she was always willing to sacrifice what she wanted to save her friends. Another example, Clark Kent.

3 - The Achiever: Type Threes are competitive, ambitious and extremely motivated individuals who have a flare for wowing their clients. Dressed to the 9’s and plugged into the latest trends these folks KNOW what's in and who's who in your corporate pop culture. However, if emotionally unhealthy they can be quite the smarmy narcissist equivalent to that of JLo. Only worse. A healthy three? Why the Queen of Daytime herself -- Oprah.

4 - The Individualist: Type Fours relish in the copious ways of expressing oneself whether in art, writing or how they dress. Rejecting “normal” and mundane way of things they excel at being extremely self-aware and shamelessly “weird”. On the downside, they can alienate themselves from the group if they don’t feel their specialness being reciprocated. Have a hard time seeing a Type Four in your workplace? Well, envision Abbey from “Navy NCIS”. Or Willow from “BtVS” Those chicks rock!

5 - The Investigator: Type Fives observes and conceptualizes. Usually specialists in their fields, they thrive on knowledge and sometimes being loners. A wee low on social skills but they make up for it by blowing your mind out of the water with their way of thinking outside the box. One of the most famous Type Five characters? Sherlock Holmes.

6 - The Loyalist: Type Sixes root for the underdog, not the most popular. At the office they can detect the slightest hint of threat whether it’s a new boss downsizing or someone sniffing around their sack lunch – a useful alley to have! Loyal until threatened, an unhealthy Type Six is known to vacillate and solicit a support group of “yes men” before confronting any authority figure (I refer to this as Playground Mentality). Grace from “Will and Grace” captured this perfectly.

7 - The Enthusiast: Type Sevens are your adventurous, what-do-you-mean-there’s-a-box?? type of thinkers. Optimistic and a thrill seeker they are the extreme coworkers who make you laugh until your sides split. Let’s face it, they are the ones who make the 8-9 hours whiz by. Unfortunately, and unhealthy Type Seven will find loopholes in agreements or commitments that might interfere with their fun time. Because to them conflicts baaaaad, office party gooooood. Perfect example: Just JACK! from “Will & Grace”.

8 - The Challenger: Type Eights, my personal favorite. These folks are your no-holds barred, take no BS, what you see is what you get, bold bulldogs. They growl, they yell, they get in your face but if you stand your ground and growl back you just earned yourself some hard earned respect points from an Eight. Whishy washy is not in their vocabulary. A very healthy Type Eight is Dr. Phil. Yes, Mr. Tell It Like It Is. And unhealthy Eight would be your standard office bully.

9 - The Peacemaker: Type Nines are the diplomats, the middle sister who keeps the eldest and youngest from killing one another. Very tolerant, Nines can deal with many kinds of people and things. However, if unhealthy they can be fight/conflict phobic and be happily vacationing in the Land of Denial as they refuse to acknowledge their own anger and become oblivious.

Together these types compose the Enneagram, a geometric shape with lines and wings. Depending on what Type you are, you might have a wing connection or a line connection to another Type which would include some of their attributes. Confused yet?

For those who want a decent background on the enneagram, I've included a list of beginner books. My personal favorites include the works by Don Riso and Russ Hudson. Their site, Enneagram Institute, is chalk full of more information about this powerful tool. They even have a test you can take to discover which Type you are. Doing so gets you started on learning what type you are. Once you know which personality type you are, you can then learn to relate to others. You have to start somewhere, right? If you take the test, feel free to post your results and discuss them. I'm always curious as to know what people think. Next week, I'll show you how to relate your personality type back to playing well with others in your own cube farm.

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Feel My Bumps...

Interesting article. However I think most of us are a mixture of the nine types... and in some cases a little bit more. Lol. To some I may come across as avuncular. To others, eccentric, self-opinionated or over analytical. It is not that we are Enneagramatic chameleons, changing personalities to blend in with our surroundings, it is more to do with our ever changing roles. I hope Henry is reading this, I would love to know how it compares with a Jungian perspective. Or for that matter the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI). Do we have any certified whole brain users on board? ;)

Mixable things

Thank you so much for your input Sard. :-) I admit to being no licensed official expert on the Enneagram, but for me personally, I'd have to politely disagree with the "we are a mixture of the nine types" idea. And of course, I speak only for myself and my experiences. Yes, there are times I truly wished I had more of an Eight aspect in me. And for a while I believed I did. However, I learned my bluntness of opinion wasn't a Type 8 "Tell It Like It Is", but a strong connection to my Type 1 "Things are Black or White" Wing. Slight difference.

I wish I were more gun-ho like a Type 7, but even at a healthy Type 2 level (which is my primary type) I find it difficult to simply go WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!! at the idea of taking a risk. Or trying something new. LOL! Ixnay on the whole bungee jumping rush.

I believe the changing roles you refer to is not necessarily us trying on different Types on for size, but in reference to our Health Levels. For example, me, a Type 2, a very unhealthy level would be co-dependent, relying too much on what other's say and completely neglecting my needs to point of only living for others. At the peak of my health, I have the potential of being one who gives without wanting anything in return and can take care of others with the skill of knowing when to firmly say "No." And NOT feel guilty about it. ;-)

Just my 0.02.
~~Moleskines and a pint of Guinness are my preferred drugs of choice.~~

Understanding the Enneagram

A great article on the history of the enneagram is here:
The Enneagram by James Moore


Wow, I am definitely going to print this and put it with my Enneagram notes and lessons. Thanks so much for the link. I look forward to reading it fully and making little notes in it's margins. ;-)

~~Moleskines and a pint of Guinness are my preferred drugs of choice.~~

Ah, another enneagram

Ah, another enneagram afficionado! I commented, oh, eons ago, on one of Dr. Henry's Myers-Briggs threads about it. I find that both systems are pretty useful, myself.

Riso and Hudson's stuff is certainly complete and comprehensive. If you'd like a different take on the enneagram, check out Clarence Thomson's Enneagram Self-Study course at His idea is that your e-type is a strategy or an energy type, moreso than a fixed "personality" (which kind of goes along more with what Sardonios was saying.)

Oh, and for the record, I'm a 4w5 who goes spends a lot of time at 1 when I need to get stuff done. :)