Beginner’s Guide to the Enneagram


Enneagram Personality Model

If you’re an active user of Social Media, chances are you’ve seen a lot in recent years about the Enneagram personality model. The Enneagram can be a helpful tool to understand more about yourself, as well as others. 

Understanding the basic fears, desires, and motivations of the different enneagram types can help you communicate with and relate to others. We may seem different on the surface, but in reality, we are all seeking similar things: connection, understanding, support, and acceptance. We just have different ways of expressing those desires. When you know a bit about what makes people tick, it can also help you relate to and empathize with them.

The History

The Enneagram is a personality model that dates back more than a thousand years. Though it was originally passed through tradition, there is disagreement as to when or where it originated from. However, much of the modern Enneagram comes from the teachings of Oscar Ichazo, a Bolivian psycho-spiritual teacher, in the 1950s. Ichazo believed that if a person understood their own fixations, they could grow beyond their natural behaviors. While the Enneagram has developed a bit since then, many of the beliefs about the impact that understanding personality can have on personal growth remain central to the personality model.

What is the Enneagram, exactly?

The Enneagram consists of nine main, overarching types that interact with one another in unique ways. Each type describes individual behavior tendencies, motivations, and desires, often more deeply and more specifically than other personality frameworks that may focus more on behavior. 

While each type is distinct from the others , there are even more variations within the Enneagram, including secondary types (known as "wings"), instinctual subtypes, and more. For this reason, the Enneagram is widely considered a helpful tool for personal development, counseling, and helping to improve relationships. 

The Different Enneagram Types

Enneagram Type 1: Idealist

Type Ones seek moralistic behavior and reform. They are naturally positive, determined people, with a heart for helping others. They make great lawyers, judges, and social workers.

  • Perfectionistic
  • Ethical
  • Motivated

Basic Desire: To be good and honorable

The type One has a strong, innate desire for fairness, accuracy, and order. They tend to be bold advocates for the rights of others and may challenge the status quo to make a push for reforms and equality.

Idealists tend to respond to negativity by redirecting their emotions into their passion in order to gain a sense of control. This may lead them to push themselves even deeper into their work.

Basic Fear: Being unethical or immoral

The type One has a basic fear of being incorrect or out of control, especially when they perceive injustice or unfairness. They work to avoid making choices that are impurely motivated and tend to have a strong sense of objective right and wrong. Ones dislike those they believe are corrupt or ill-intentioned.

Communication Style

Ones appreciate punctuality, honesty, and being taken seriously. When communicating with type ones, be sure to remain positive and clear, allowing them to share thoughts and ideas.

Learn More

For more information about type Ones, including potential “wings”, check out our full-length Enneagram type 1 page.

Enneagram Type 2: Caregiver

Type Twos seek love and affection from others. They are emotional-thinkers and hard workers. They make great counselors, nurses, non-profit leaders, and teachers.

  • Helpful
  • Generous
  • Warm-hearted

Basic Desire: To be loved completely

The most basic desire of the type Two is to be fully loved and accepted. They often express this by being extremely attentive to the needs of those around them and helping other people in any way they can.

People who identify as a type Two may repress their own negative emotions or channel them into more positive or typically acceptable emotions, in order to be perceived as more desirable.

Basic Fear: Being unworthy of love

Type Two has a basic fear of being unwanted or unloved by those around them. A Two may believe, consciously or subconsciously, that love is only gained and earned by serving others.

Communication Style

Twos appreciate having positive attention and encouragement. When communicating with type twos, share ways in which they can offer support while thanking them for their hard work.

Learn More

For more information about type Twos, including potential “wings”, check out our full-length Enneagram type 2 page.

Enneagram Type 3: Performer

Type Threes want to achieve great things and receive affirmation from others. They are charismatic and adaptable, preferring to follow a plan of action. They work well as consultants, marketing experts, analysts, and politicians.

  • Charming
  • Ambitious
  • Energetic

Basic Desire: To be worthy and important

The most basic desire of the Enneagram type Three is to feel valued and accepted. They tend to seek accomplishment and admiration, usually expressing this by setting big goals and doing what it takes to succeed in order to earn validation or praise from those around them.

People who identify as the type Three often adapt to fit different settings very naturally, which may lead to playing a character rather than being themselves.

Basic Fear: Being insignificant or useless

The basic fear of a type Three is failure and worthlessness. They may hold a subconscious belief that in order to be worthy, they must succeed, or at least be perceived as successful.

Communication Style

Threes prefer straightforward, honest communication. When communicating with type threes, help them to feel valued and offer them specific tasks or goals.

Learn More

For more information about type Threes, including potential “wings”, check out our full-length Enneagram type 3 page.

Enneagram Type 4: Creative

Type Fours seek individuality and authenticity from themselves and others. They are expressive, sensitive souls with a passion for various art forms. They make great writers, designers, actors, and artists.

  • Creative
  • Dramatic
  • Self-aware

Basic Desire: To be authentically themselves

The basic desire of the type Four is to build a distinct, meaningful identity and to express it in the world. They tend to crave authenticity, but may struggle through uncertainty and doubt along the way to discovering their individuality. Fours may feel misunderstood if others fail to recognize their unique, identifying traits.

Fours may unintentionally adopt characteristics of close friends and family when they’re stressed, in order to appear more genuine.

Basic Fear: Having no personal identity

The basic fear of the type Four is that they do not matter or have a significant impact on the world. In less healthy times, they often feel misunderstood, outcast, and unrelatable. In order to distinguish themselves from others, Fours may work hard to be unique, creative, and expressive.

Communication Style

Fours need emotional understanding and recognition of their personal identity. When communicating with type fours, encourage their creativity and allow them space to recharge.

Learn More

For more information about type Fours, including potential “wings”, check out our full-length Enneagram type 4 page.

Enneagram Type 5: Thinker

Type Fives want to feel handy and valuable. They prefer to be by themselves and are excellent deep-thinkers. They make great engineers, scientists, and scholars.

  • Introspective
  • Thoughtful
  • Curious

Basic Desire: To be useful and helpful

The most basic desire of the Enneagram type Five is to feel helpful and competent. They express this by passionately pursuing knowledge and working to gain new skills and abilities. Fives often prioritize developing their own intellect over most other things in life.

Thinkers often guard themselves from their basic fear by withdrawing from others, both emotionally and physically. This may make them feel safer, but can also lead to loneliness.

Basic Fear: Being incompetent or unskilled

People who identify as a type Five may fear being useless or incompetent. Less healthy Fives may have a deeply rooted belief that they are less able to do things than other people and therefore seek to fully understand the world in order to have more of an advantage.

Communication Style

Fives need plenty of time to themselves. When communicating with type fives, make sure to appreciate their knowledge, express yourself logically, and ask direct questions.

Learn More

For more information about type Fives, including potential “wings”, check out our full-length Enneagram type 5 page.

Enneagram Type 6: Loyalist

Type Sixes seek safety and consistency. They are trustworthy and make reliable decisions. They perform well as bankers, professors, nurses, and consultants.

  • Loyal
  • Cautious
  • Responsible

Basic Desire: To be stable and secure

The most basic desire of the Enneagram type Six is to feel secure, which they are likely to seek through loyalty to others. They work hard to build strong, stable relationships. Sixes want to feel that they can truly trust others to support them.

Though people who identify as a type Six value such strong loyalty, they may have difficulty trusting others and protect themselves from their fear by projecting their own feelings, positive or negative.

Basic Fear: Losing their security and support

The basic fear of the type Six is losing their personal support and stability. They usually crave predictable, safe environments. Sixes tend to have an “expect the worst, hope for the best,” mentality. They may express this fear by overthinking decision-making.

Communication Style

Sixes need to feel safe to express themselves. When communicating with type sixes, be supportive, direct, and appreciative of their logical decision-making.

Learn More

For more information about type Sixes, including potential “wings”, check out our full-length Enneagram type 6 page.

Enneagram Type 7: Adventurer

Type Sevens want to feel like they're living life to the fullest and experiencing all the world has to offer. They are outgoing and spontaneous with a passion for action. They thrive as travel agents, designers, photographers, and writers.

  • Adventurous
  • Fun
  • Practical

Basic Desire: To be fulfilled and happy

The most basic desire of the Enneagram type Seven is to feel stimulated, engaged, and satisfied. They tend to be highly goal-oriented and may go to great lengths to seek excitement and joy from new experiences.

Adventurers may justify or rationalize negative feelings in an attempt to cope when they’re upset or afraid. They tend to convince themselves that if they feel sad or hurt, it is a misunderstanding on their part.

Basic Fear: Missing out on an opportunity or being deprived

The most basic fear of the type Seven is that they may miss out on or be deprived of excitement. They may express this by avoiding schedules and concrete plans to allow for last minute opportunities. At less healthy times, they may struggle with focusing on the task at hand, especially if they feel like it’s preventing them from a more interesting experience.

Communication Style

Sevens appreciate a positive, open-minded attitude. When communicating with type sevens, build a personal connection with them and listen intently to their out-of-the-box ideas.

Learn More

For more information about type Sevens, including potential “wings”, check out our full-length Enneagram type 7 page.

Enneagram Type 8: Protector

Type Eights want to feel like they have control of their own fate. They are strong, attention-commanding leaders, skilled in quick, effective decision-making. They excel as lawyers, advisors, directors, and sales experts.

  • Assertive
  • Confident
  • Protective

Basic Desire: To be free, in control, and protected

The most basic desire of the Enneagram type Eight is to protect themselves and remain in control of their own lives. They seek to defend themselves and others from injustice. Eights often tend to advocate for the underdog, as they work to protect those they feel are unable to protect themselves.

Protectors tend to avoid and deny vulnerability in order to protect themselves from being hurt. They believe, somewhat subconsciously, that vulnerability will make them appear weak; therefore, they avoid it at all costs.

Basic Fear: Being controlled or hurt

The basic fear of the type Eight is that they might be controlled or hurt by others. They tend to avoid situations that make them feel helpless and stand up for themselves in all circumstances. When stressed, they may guard themselves more from others.

Communication Style

Eights want direct communication from others. When communicating with type eights, be forward, logical, and strong when expressing thoughts and ideas with them.

Learn More

For more information about type Eights, including potential “wings”, check out our full-length Enneagram type 8 page.

Enneagram Type 9: Peacekeeper

Type Nines seek to feel safe, comfortable, and at peace with themselves. They are adaptable and agreeable teammates, dedicated to considering multiple perspectives. They shine as counselors, doctors, diplomats, and religious workers.

  • Peaceful
  • Adaptable
  • Optimistic

Basic Desire: To be at peace and stable

The most basic desire of the Enneagram type Nine is to have internal peace. Nines strive to be in harmony with themselves and the world around them.

Peacekeepers may ignore pain or numb their internal conflicts through food, television, and other repetitive patterns in order to avoid negative feelings or fear. They have the tendency to avoid discomfort to the point of apathy.

Basic Fear: Being separated from the world

The basic fear of the type Nine is that they may lose or be separated from others. They may attempt to prevent this by remaining peaceful and avoiding conflict, potentially adapting to others preferences, rather than stating their own. 

Communication Style

Nines prefer peaceful interactions. When communicating with type nines, encourage nines to share their own thoughts and listen attentively, offering support and sharing feedback thoughtfully.

Learn More

For more information about type Nines, including potential “wings”, check out our full-length Enneagram type 9 page.

How to Discover Your Enneagram

If you’re curious about finding your Enneagram type, try taking Crystal’s free Enneagram test. Once you know your type, you can begin a journey toward learning more about yourself and others through personality.

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