A quick and easy explanation of the Enneagram and everything you need to know about Enneagram numbers, including talk type, sin, work and relationship qualities, and more!
At first look, the Enneagram can look extremely complicated and difficult to understand. You might hear people referring to themselves as “numbers” with “wings” and if you don’t know what they mean this might sound terribly confusing, if not just crazy! But I promise it’s not. Its actually quite intuitive, but more importantly, extremely helpful.
The Enneagram has been fascinating to me to learn about, and I wanted to compile an easy guide where all the basics you need to know about the numbers can be seen in one place. There is a ton out there about the Enneagram, but this guide is all based on Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile’s book The Road Back To You (which I just read and highly recommend, it’s hilarious!)
First, what is the Enneagram?
It’s basically a diagram of numbers that describes personality types and makes you more aware of your true self. Its been around for hundreds of years, but is recently picking up popularity again. It has been used in many different theologies and practices, but is very common in Christianity. Although it isn’t perfect nor 100% precise, the Enneagram is very helpful in understanding some of our traits and how we can use them to be better versions of ourselves.
How do you Read Enneagram Numbers? Wings and Lines
The 9 Enneagram numbers each represent a different personality type. Every person is predominantly a certain number, but can also have some traits of either numbers next to it, which are called “wings“. For example, a 9 can be winged 1 or winged 8, meaning if you are a 9, you may also have some traits of an 8 or of a 1 and that would be your wing.
The lines connecting the numbers show how you act when you are in a good place or a bad place. If a line‘s arrow is pointing away from your number, you supposedly tend to take the negative traits of the number it is pointing to when you are stressed, whereas, you take on the positive traits of the number with a line pointing to your number when you are secure. For example, A 4 takes on the negative traits of a 2 when stressed, but the positive traits of a 1 when secure.
The numbers below are out of order because they are grouped by their triads. There are 3 triads: heart/feeling (numbers 2,3,4) , head/fear (numbers 5, 6, 7), and gut/anger (numbers 8,9,1). These basically show where the numbers process feelings and what may drive them.
By reading this, you might be able to get a feel for what number you are, but you should take an Enneagram quiz online (click here) or read a book like The Road Back To You, for a deeper understanding.
With all of that said, here’s the qualities of the Enneagram numbers themselves!
The Enneagram Numbers:
9. The Peacemaker
- Personality: “Pleasant, laid back and accommodating, they are motivated by a need to keep the peace, merge with others, and avoid conflict.”
- Talk type: epic saga
- Triad: Anger- forgets it
- At work: Enthusiastic and supporting, like routine, can be taken advantage of
- In relationships: Flexible, avoids conflict, but can be passive-agressive
- As a child: Easy-going, perhaps felt overlooked
- Deadly sin: sloth (lack of motivation)
- Stress: Take on unhealthy traits of a 6 (anxious, worried, self-doubting)
- Security: Take on healthy traits of a 3 (decisive, active, purposeful)
- How to be your best self: Know your importance, be less passive- decide and say how you really feel
8. The Challenger
- Personality: “Commanding, intense and confrontational, they are motivated by a need to be strong and avoid feeling week or vulnerable.”
- Talk type: Commanding
- Triad: Anger- shows it
- At work: Are active, efficient, like control, but don’t necessarily have to be the leader as long as they know and respect who is in charge
- In relationships: Protective over their loved ones, want someone who challenges them back
- As a child: Possibly betrayed so don’t let people see their soft side
- Deadly sin: Lust (for intensity)
- Stress: Take on unhealthy traits of a 5 (disconnected, unemotional, withdrawn)
- Security: Take on healthy traits of a 2 (caring, trusting, more understanding)
- How to be your best self: Go easier on others, it’s okay to be vulnerable
1. The Perfectionist
- Personality: “Ethical, dedicated and reliable, they are motivated by a desire to live the right way, improve the world, and avoid fault and blame.”
- Talk type: Preaching
- Triad: Anger- bottles it up
- At work: Get the job done, detail-oriented, organized, committed, but can over-work
- In relationships: Can be sensitive to criticism, have high expectations but also hold themselves to high standards for their partner
- As a child: Great kids/students, but hard on themselves
- Deadly sin: Anger (judgement)
- Stress: Take on unhealthy traits of a 4 (critical, sensitive, self-doubting)
- Security: Take on healthy traits of a 7 (fun, easy-going, adventurous)
- How to be your best self: Expect less of yourself/others, have fun, let go and let God!
2. The Helper
- Personality: “Warm, caring and giving, they are motivated by a need to be loved and needed, and to avoid acknowledging their own needs.”
- Talk type: help and advice
- Triad: Feelings- focus on others more than their own
- At work: Sensitive to criticism, but highly aware of other’s needs and make great team players/support systems
- In relationships: The most caring, but often forget about their own needs and can be dependent
- As a child: People-pleasers, very aware of other’s feelings
- Deadly sin: Pride
- Stress: Take on unhealthy traits of an 8 (commanding, blaming)
- Security: Take on healthy traits of a 4 (self-aware, imaginative, creative)
- How to be your best self: Act without expecting anything in return, take care of your own needs/feelings
3. The Performer
- Personality: “Success-oriented, image-conscious, and wired for productivity, they are motivated by a need to be (or appear to be) successful and avoid failure.”
- Talk type: Promoting
- Triad: Feelings- hard time connecting to their own or others
- At work: Can be workaholics, aim to get ahead, but very efficient and productive
- In relationships: Might care a lot about image, but very optimistic
- As a child: Exceptional, but think they are loved for/ only as good as their accomplishments
- Deadly sin: deceit
- Stress: Take on unhealthy behaviors of 9s (get burned out and lose confidence)
- Security: Take on healthy behaviors of 6s (accepting, warmer, in touch with relationships)
- How to be your best self: Just be yourself. It’s okay to not have it all together and for other to shine sometimes
4. The Romantic
- Personality: “Creative, sensitive and moody, they are motivated by a need to be understood, experience their oversized feelings and avoid being ordinary.”
- Talk type: Lament
- Triad: Feelings- focus on their own
- At work: Likely to be in creative, expressive careers. Highly sensitive to criticism.
- In relationships: Intense, dramatic, passionate
- As a child: Might’ve been the angsty teen. Misunderstood
- Deadly sin: Envy
- Stress: Take on the traits of unhealthy 2s (dependent, jealous)
- Security: Take on the traits of a healthy 1 (encouraging, aware, uplifting)
- How to be your best self: You are special, but everyone else has deep feelings too! Life doesn’t have to be melodramatic
5. The Investigator
- Personality: “Analytical, detached and private, they are motivated by a need to gain knowledge, conserve energy, and avoid relying on others.”
- Talk type: Technical
- Triad: fear- shows it
- At work: Analytical, innovative, and collected. Would rather work by themselves, but will get the job done.
- In relationships: Can be hard to read and not the most emotionally aware, but are kind, low-maintenance, and trustworthy.
- As a child: Possibly lacked affection or were overlooked. Quiet, shy, but very smart. Into tinkering, building, learning.
- Deadly sin: Avarice (hoarding)
- Stress: Take the unhealthy traits of a 7 (detached, frazzled, blunt, discourteous)
- Security: Take the healthy traits of an 8 (confident, self-assured)
- How to be your best self: Engage, express, go out of your comfort zone to socialize, but genuinely show interest.
6. The Loyalist
- Personality: “Committed, practical and witty, they are worst-case-scenario thinkers who are motivated by fear and a need for security.”
- Talk type: Tentative
- Triad: Fear- has a lot of it inside
- At work: Need detailed information and ask a lot of questions, but make decisions thoughtfully and with care
- In relationships: Needs a lot of security and confirmation, but will be extremely loyal and faithful to you.
- As a child: Little worriers, were perhaps let down or grew up in uncertain situations
- Deadly sin: Fear
- Stress: Take on negative traits of a 3 (materialistic, image-conscious)
- Security: Take on positive traits of a 9 (flexible, less-anxious, happy-go-lucky)
- How to be your best self: Trust yourself and take more chances. Don’t let anxiety hold you back from living life.
7. The Enthusiast
- Personality: “Fun, spontaneous and adventurous, they are motivated by a need to be happy, to plan stimulating experiences, and to avoid pain.”
- Talk type: Storytelling
- Triad: Fear- forgets it
- At work: Quick learners, but don’t like too many obligations or being tied-down. Need flexibility and jobs that don’t bore them
- In relationships: Very spontaneous and fun, but don’t want to feel smothered or over-committed; like to keep their options open
- As a child: Dealt with hardships by having fun and ignoring their feelings and might’ve felt on their own often.
- Deadly sin: Gluttony (need stimulation)
- Stress: Take on unhealthy traits of 1s (judgemental, defensive, argumentative)
- Security: Take on the healthy traits of 5s (meaningful, purposeful, more serious)
- How to be your best self: Don’t avoid pain, embrace all your emotions, try compromising with other people even if it’s not always the most fun/what you want to do
*All quotes are from The Road Back To You!
This is just the basics of the Enneagram numbers- there is still so much to each one! And remember, these are not all perfect qualities. Everyone is different! The Enneagram should be used to lift each other up, learn from our negative qualities, and make us the best versions of ourselves we can be! What’s your number? I’d love to open up discussion in the comments below!
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