What to Know Before Typing Your Friends

enneagram basics podcast Jun 01, 2022
The Enneagram On Project

What to Know Before Typing Your Friends


Once you get to know the Enneagram, it’s super tempting to type everyone but there are a few things to consider before going on a typing spree.


Consideration 1: 

The Enneagram is not based on behavior, it’s based on motivation and unfortunately, what we see of other people is their behavior. 


In fact, perfectionist behaviors are not reserved for type Ones, every point in the Enneagram can exhibit perfectionist tendencies. 


Consideration 2:

The moments that stand out to us are usually the extreme moments we witness making it impossible to tell if the person was acting from stress or from expansion. 


It really is impossible to tell from the outside because some people hide the stress so well and it’s sometimes hard for us to tell whether we are stressed or not. 


In other words, maybe they are a Four that’s in their expansion therefor looks a lot like a One or maybe they are a Seven in stress and looking a lot like a One.


Consideration 3:

What’s your motivation behind wanting to type others? 


Are you wanting to better understand them and need the Enneagram as support? 


Are you wanting to micro manage them or yourself based on their type?


Bonus consideration:

We are all conditioned to disconnect from the gut and heart and to lean into the higher intelligence of the brain yet depending on our type, we might have a stronger pull from a different intelligence ie: gut or heart.


Each of these centers, have an unconscious emotional response that’s almost automatic. For Ones, we are from the gut center and have an unconscious emotional response linked to anger. The other centers have a fear or a shame response. The thing is, we’ve all, as humans, experienced all three emotions and it’s hard to tell which has the biggest pull and even harder to note in someone else.


Listen HERE for the full explanation.





Welcome every One, you are listening to The Enneagram One Project Podcast, Ep 22 - What to Know Before Typing Your Friends


Whether you are new to the enneagram or not, I’m guessing you’ve been tempted at some point or other to type those around you. Looking at them, you might think, yep, they must be this or that number because they’ve doing this right now. It is so tempting because this is such an in-depth self-awareness tool. The question is should you type those around you?


In today’s episode, we’ll go over the pros and cons and you can decide what you want to do. As usual, I don’t think there’s a correct answer but there are aspects of human behavior and motivation, to name a few, that are good to know before you try to type.


I do encourage you to have a listen even if you have zero plans on typing others because interspersed in this episode are common mistakes we make when typing and that could include how you typed yourself.


There are a few considerations you should be aware of regarding the Enneagram before you start typing everyone you know and maybe, just maybe, these tips will have you reevaluating your own type. 


Consideration number 1:


The enneagram is an amazing tool to help you better understand yourself so that you may return to self, meaning the self that’s under the conditioning, it shows you the conditioning that’s so close to you that you might not even be aware it’s there. The enneagram is about the programming that’s in your brain that drives you to behave certain ways. 


This is so important because the enneagram is not at all about your behavior. Every number in the enneagram can exhibit perfectionist behaviors. The behaviors themselves, procrastinating, self criticism, avoiding situations where you might fail, rehashing past experiences you judged yourself as coming short of your expectations, are not reserved for Enneagram type Ones. It’s about the motivation that drives the action. Your core motivation as described in the nine points of the enneagram will be the fuel for the bahavior. 


That means that it’s impossible to tell someone’s type unless you know their inner working, deepest thoughts, or fears. For instance a type one’s core fear is to be seen as bad, this aversion will lead to certain behaviors whereas an 8 will be driven by its desire to go towards strength as opposed to weakness. Let’s get more specific. If a One believes that the did not meet their standards, they might criticize themselves and an Eight might do the same but not because they didn’t meet their standards but because they believed they showed weakness. Outwardly, you’d see the same behavior or hear similar self-talk but the fuel is completely different.


Let’s take that a step further. As Enneagram type Ones, we don’t always agree on what makes a good person and what makes a bad person. That part is based on each person’s upbringing and the way they categorize good vs bad. Not all Ones are the same.


So again, every point, or number in the enneagram can exhibit perfectionistic behaviors, that does not make them Ones. Furthermore, you may or may not agree with the label of who is good and who is bad based on your own culture, background etc so you might not see that that is the driving force. All you can see, unless you are a typist, are trained to do this work without having your own filters, is the outside behavior of a person.


Consideration number 2:


I want you to think about the behaviors of your close family and friends. What stands out for you? Are they moments where the person was particularly upset or happy or are they the everyday moments? For me, what tends to stand out to me are the moments of extremes, not usually the everyday stuff.


So the behavior you’re seeing and even the explanations you are given for the behavior by the person may not be a representation of their type but rather of their stress point or their expansion point. Remember, for type Ones, we go towards Four when stressed and towards Seven when in expansion. Let’s be honest, it’s not always easy to really and I mean really know when someone else is stressed or in expansion.


Someone who would meet me today would likely not pick up on all of my Oneness and likewise, the people I met in my most stressed out moments would not have seen any of my Oneness, they would have seen a Four.


I also want to point out that depending on how or when you did your own typing, you might have mistyped yourself because of this. I think when we start our journey, we aren’t always very self-aware and may not recognize that we’re currently holding tension and accumulated stress. Were you a Four in growth and that’s why you showed the more “positive” One qualities and resonated more with those when you read the One description? Were you a Seven in stress and that’s why you showed the more unhealthy One qualities and highly identified with the One archetype?


I don’t mean to make you doubt your own assessment or that of a test, what I do want to point out is that unless you are self-aware it can be complicated to type yourself and I believe it’s really difficult to type someone else without being trained or being in their head.


Just to go back a moment, even if it is the everyday stuff that you recall about a person’s behavior, you still don’t necessarily know if they were living with constant stress or not.


Consideration number 3:


Now this last reason relates very much to point 1 but I think it needs to be highlighted. I think we all need to be really honest as to why we want to type other people. What do you believe typing someone will do for you? Are you hoping to avoid conflicts, if so, why? Are you wanting to change things about yourself so they like you more, if so why? Are you wanting to provide a safe space for them to be themselves? There are no right or wrong answers just be on to yourself. 


This isn’t meant to be a tool for you to micro manage yourself around others, it’s a tool for each of us to be more present and if you’re micro managing you, you are not being present, you are not being more of your true self, you are trying to hide it even more with what you think will work best for others. Nor is it a tool to manage others, both have a flavor of manipulation and for what? If you were present and trusted yourself to be your favorite expression of yourself and trusted yourself to be your own best friend no matter the outcome with others, would you still want to or need to type others?


So be honest, what’s your agenda for wanting to type someone else? More importantly, are they asking you to type them, is this information they want?


If you are able to hold back your own agenda and are typing someone to truly understand them better and hold loving space for who they are and the enneagram helps you to do that then that could be a very good reason to type. Remember some of the considerations I’ve mentioned in this episode so that you don’t fall for the common traps, especially basing their type on their behavior.


In our family, knowing that my older is a type One, which by the way, we didn’t type him, he was typed by someone else which I won’t go into without his consent, anyway, it has helped us to better understand what he doesn’t have the language to express yet. It’s been really helpful for my spouse who is not a One to take a step back and understand our son better, with less judgement, not more. It’s helped me to feel more confident that I always did understand a lot, not all, but a lot of his inner workings and conflicts. As a type One myself, I so get it. AND I also know that we’re not exactly the same. 


Consideration number 4:


I won’t spend too much time on this but conditioning runs deep. As a general guide, we are taught to hide our emotions, not listen to our body and focus on the higher intelligence of the mind. That results in humans who are disconnected from their bodies, stay in the head space where they spin and avoid the heart. So who are you under the conditioning? How do you start to really see your patterns?


If you look at the enneagram system, it has 9 points, those are the types, and it has 3 centers of intelligence. Those centers are the instinctive center, the feeling center and the thinking center. Whatever center your type belongs to, highlights your unique strength but also weakness. As a point of reference, 2,3 and 4 are in the feeling center, 5,6 and 7 are in the thinking center and 8,9 and 1 are in the instinctive center.


Each of the groupings have an unconscious emotional response when not in presence. That looks like anger for the instinctive center, that’s us Ones, shame for the feelings center and fear for the thinking center.


The issue when you’re trying to type someone, even yourself, is that we all, as humans feel these feelings some of the time. We don’t often tell others we are experiencing these feelings or that they are the driving force behind our actions. And honestly, I can see parts of see myself and parts of my conditioning in each of the points.


So how did I know I was a One? It was a gut reaction to descriptions I was reading. It was all the things I had never told anyone, my little secret way of thinking about things before acting. It’s like I was stripped bare, fully exposed and finally seen without a filter. Finally not needing a filter because someone had found me out. It was liberating. I could start to accept myself and not keep trying to change myself because I was not broken. 


So should you type those around you? I leave it to you to decide. I’ve personally passed some books on over to my friends for them to embark on their own journey when interested. Again, it’s up to you, I just hope you’ll remember the considerations I’ve laid out for you in this episode when you’re tempted to type so that you can do it with as much curiosity as possible and with as little judgement as possible.


Until next time, love to each and every One!


Thank you so much for listening to The Enneagram One Project podcast, your go-to podcast for all things One.


If you were inspired by today’s topic and would like to make a project or goal for yourself that revolves around it, I’d love to support you in my coaching program.


We’ll use this project to help you become fierce at making decisions you love. It’s a win-win; you’ll reach your goals with more efficiency and become super solid in how you make decisions resulting in a quieter inner critic and more self trust.


For more information, head over to my website dominiquevandal.com look at the top of the page for the work with me tab. Can’t wait to meet you!

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