Kinkajou: How can different Enneagram personalities annoy or irritate you?
Erasmus: I can remember my dating days as a young man, often I would reject girls based on their behaviour. Decades later I finally realized that I was reacting to Enneagram determined behaviours.
For example: A particular girl I went out with at a certain time was an Enneagram “one”. She was a very petite, tidy careful, lovely girl. Always well and carefully presented. However, once in a discussion while I was talking about soil minerals (I had watched a TV show the night before and in my opinion was particularly knowledgeable about the topic, able to share lots with others) she said to me in a slightly condescending manner, “you do really seem to know quite a lot about soil chemistry and soil minerals”.
What really struck me pointedly was the tone of voice; “Condescending”. I had an immediate reaction to this. I began to have a thought surging through my system: unstoppable. “Hey lady, you may think you’re perfect. I know I’m not. But I’m a helluva lot closer to it than you are. Nobody is going to look down on me thinking that they’re perfect.
Unbeknownst to me, I had confronted the “one” aspect of the girl and decided that I did not like it.
I never went out with the girl again. I still maintained a high amount of respect for the girl, but it was over. I was moving on and looking for a new potential partner.
The Perfectionist One
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Looking back on it that day, perhaps I was quick to judge. Not that I got it wrong though. My friend’s brother married a “one” after his first wife died and I have worked with some ones. The girls are quite hard working in their pursuit of their ideal of perfection. I saw on a number of occasions how they would work till very late (2-3am) preparing food for a function (party), for which they felt responsible.
I remember one girl who used to tidy up the entire house before she went to bed, even when she knew that the kids were going to mess it all up as soon as they got up the next day. She couldn’t stop herself. She had to do it. It took years before she could tell herself, “No I’m going to bed, because I need my rest. These toys and this mess can stay here in this imperfect way. I’m not going to tidy them. I’m going to do something else. I’m going to look after myself and leave it alone.
As you may gather, “ones” can work very hard indeed in their pursuit of perfection.
My friend’s wife, had a very different approach to the problem. She would tell the kids to clean up. A few of the things left out, would be tidied up into the rubbish bin, when she went around cleaning up. Eventually, this added together so that there was not much left to clean up. The kids used to have these large storage chests full of toys. One day they were complaining to me that there was nothing to do. There’s nothing to play with. I said, “Come on”. You’ve got heaps of toys. They said “no we don’t”. I went to look in the storage chest. The kids were right. The chests were almost empty. Over period of time my friend’s partner had sorted out the untidiness issue quietly, methodically and in a very time efficient manner. To the point where now there was very little left to tidy up anymore. Another example of the Enneagram in action. (My friend’s current partner is a “nine”).
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A “one” could do this same behaviour as well. But for the “one” it is about doing the right thing, and punishing the kids for leaving toys out. For the “nine”, it’s more about just doing things the easiest and least confrontational way while sorting things out- to the point where more time does not need to be invested in this problem. A “low energy” solution, not a confrontational solution.
Kinkajou: My current girlfriend is a “one”. Yeah, you’re right she is a perfectionist. But it’s just “her “idea of perfection. She likes to do things her way. She does have some very strong personality streaks and likes to take charge, (to make things perfect). When I first moved in with her, I found her very hard to live with, very decisive and dogmatic- not at all what I was used to coming from my home where the “nines’ in the household left you alone to make your own decisions and path in life.
Erasmus: With the benefit of time and experience, I’ve come to realize that everything I thought about that “one” I dated was absolutely correct. Enneagrams do help you to understand why you like and dislike some people / personalities. But remember you will be attracted to the individual person as well as to the enneagram type.
"Ones" like being clean cut.
I had a co-worker once who also was a “one”. Again petit and cute, tidy neat and small: a typical “one”. She talked about many things at work. I mentioned once I liked to get away from everyone and just read quietly sometimes. A particularly cute characteristic response she made was how she would listen to what I would say and then say in a softly smug sort of way: “I do that too”. “
One behaviour”, but directed towards an “I’m perfect LIKE you, not I’m more perfect than you”. The tone of the statement was endearing as was the implication of the statement.
This is a “one” behaviour as well. Just as strongly one as the previous example. But, this “one” flavour or colour is much more endearing and much more “live with-able”.
As I’ve said before my brother’s wife is a “one”, and I’ve never seen her do the “better than you trick”. She has done the “you should do the right thing” speech though. Once when I told her about a project of mine and why I was doing what I was doing. She agreed it really was important to do the right thing, no matter what. This manifesto is a part of her personality. She is a “one” after all. My brother thought a lot about consequences and what could go wrong. He is a “six”, and that’s what sixes do.
I think you can begin see the different flavours of one. Tough, righteous and perfectionistic. Condescendingly perfectionistic. Perfect, just like you. Which “one” rings your bell?
Kinkajou: I see what you’re getting at Erasmus. Enneagrams are great at predicting behaviour and the response to different situations, but there still is an element of colour or flavour in the personality that is not the perhaps the result of genetics. Enneagrams genetics is not all there is to understanding people and in enjoying or hating the experience of people.
There is still a lot of colour or flavour in a personality, perhaps based on their experiences in life or the personalities of their parents. Perhaps even other genetic elements can make a contribution.
At a basic level someone who has a “one” mother or father, can’t avoid picking up or learning behavioural responses that reflect their life experience or their parents. If you were attracted to the “one” behaviour pattern and sense of values and drive, you would probably be most comfortable with this if you had a “one” parent. You would have experience with and be familiar with the “one” overlay, but could be quite a different personality yourself.
Kinkajou: So what are the Enneagram Types?
They are numbered one to nine. I’ll briefly summarize what I believe to be some of their characteristics in the Ennegenes (enneagram gene) model, as we go through each type’s web page. Now remember, other authors may have a slightly different point of view, because my view is based on what I believe the underlying genetics of the people involved are. If you have a particular gene, you will act in a way that a particular gene will program for you.
One: Careful, neat, tidy, punctual, very well and carefully coiffured, women often small petit, strong on right and wrong: you should do ….. ; They like white. They like “Righteous”, using words like you “should “ and often feel strongly about doing the “right” thing.
Kinkajou: What are the limitations of Enneagram?
Erasmus: Enneagrams predict a lot of behaviour that people do. They don’t predict everything. Some enneagram “eights “or “ones” can be quite endearing. Others quite unpleasant. This is because there are extra colours or flavours to personalities that enneagrams do not predict.
You will have a very different experience of a person if you are in contact with them in times of stress or relaxation or business as usual “phase’. The enneagram will help you with this, but it can be hard to see the person outside of the situation in which you are dealing with them.
Within every enneagram type and subtype there will be people you like and people you do not. However, you are most predisposed to like people whose personality you are familiar with and with whom you therefore feel most comfortable.
Hard “enneONES”: everything has to be perfect or else
Soft “enneONES”: I’ll try hard to make everything perfect, though I can fail.
Obsessive “enneONES”: Your napkin and cutlery are out of place. Put them back to where they should be “now”. Some “ones” can be so obsessive that they line up the tins and bottles in their cupboards, only allow a very specific range of things to be on the coffee table in specific places and expect to have complete control of a relationship because that is how it should be. (A problem especially for enneagram “one” men who seem to always feel they should be in command).
Ones can work very hard to create their idea of perfection. Witness “one “woman who works through till 3 am in the morning getting things ready for the function the next day. My friend’s wife (“nine”) would just go to bed when tired. The future; Que sera sera. Worry about it tomorrow.
These examples show how there is a variety of behavioural extremes even between enneagram “ones”.
It is of course quite possible that some genius may one day find even more genetic explanations for these behaviours. For example dopamine receptors are involved in extreme behaviour, gambling and poor judgment. Cannabinoid receptors may also impact motivation.
Significant others such as parents will also impact on behaviour considerably. An enneagram “seven” child with enneagram “seven” parents will likely approach life very differently to a “seven” child of “three” +”four” parents.
An enneagram eight child will also have a very different experience if he / she has enneagram “one “parents than if he / she had a “four” mother and a “three” father.
We all learn facets of behaviour from other personality type by exposure throughout life, and we often use these learned behaviours because we see that they work..