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How the Enneagram Can Help You Navigate Relationships

How the Enneagram Can Help You Navigate Relationships

Whether you’re in the office, at home, on a date, or hanging out with friends, healthy communication is essential in developing and maintaining your most important relationships. Unfortunately, our earthly struggles can cause us to communicate with each other in hurtful ways. Wouldn’t it be great if we could learn how to listen and respond to others in a way that makes all the unique people in our life feel seen, heard, and loved? The Enneagram can help us do just that!

There are many personality tests and programs, but the Enneagram goes deeper than most. It shines a light on aspects of our personality that we're unaware of and helps us better understand the people in our life. When we understand our relationship dynamics, we can align with Christ by extending grace, mercy, and forgiveness to others. We can communicate with empathy and patience, knowing that we are all fully loved and accepted, despite our insecurities and shortcomings.

Below, you will find tips to help you communicate with all nine Enneagram Types. As you read, I encourage you to look honestly at your communication dynamics with your co-workers, partner, family members, and friends and make changes where needed. Healthy growth isn’t easy, but your relationship is worth it!

Type 1:

Instead of assuming the Type 1s in your life always judge you, look for how they may be trying to help you with their critiques or advice. Try repeating what they say and asking clarifying questions, so they feel heard and validated. When they delegate a task to you, give it your best effort so they can finally relax. To help them see past their inner critic, encourage them based on facts, not just your feelings about them.

Type 2:

The Type 2s in your life fear rejection, so give them your full attention and stay positive and uplifting. If you need to have a difficult conversation, have it in private to reduce their feelings of shame, and try using the “sandwich method.” Begin and end what you need to say with words of affirmation. This allows their heart to be receptive and less defensive and shows you really care about them.

Type 3:

When you’re in a relationship with a Type 3, you need to take an optimistic, problem-solving approach in your communication. Time your conversations well so you don’t interrupt them when they are focused or working. To help them relax and take off their “achieving mask,” encourage them to share their true feelings and listen with love and acceptance so they know they are supported and valued for being their true self.

Type 4:

Type 4s need you to be okay with them fully experiencing and expressing their emotions. Only then will they trust that you are trying to know them on a meaningful level. This means you are also free to be authentic, real, and open with your feelings because they can handle all your emotions. Show appreciation for their intuition, wisdom, and creativity and encourage them to use their talents in the world to help and inspire others.

Type 5:

It may seem like the Type 5s in your life are happier alone, but they greatly value your relationship! Their internal relational battery drains quickly, and they need to recharge alone so they can reconnect with you later. In a difficult conversation, ask them if they have enough energy left and give them time and space to recharge and process their thoughts and feelings. When you return to the conversation, keep it focused on the facts and listen intently to any needs they are expressing so they feel safe to
connect with you.

Type 6:

An antidote to fear is humor, so Type 6s love it when you join in on their witty banter. When they express their fears, don’t judge them for their concerns or force them to be optimistic. Instead, remain steady and calm. If you need time to process a difficult conversation, assure them that you will return and you’re not abandoning them. Loyalty is important to a Type 6, so show your dedication to the relationship by seeking them out as much as they seek you.

Type 7:

The Type 7s in your life appreciate optimistic, affirming, and warm conversations. If you need to have a challenging conversation, choose an environment that is not distracting and begin with affirmations. Invite them to share their authentic feelings without fear of punishment, and don’t trap them in a long, negative conversation. Instead, incorporate their ideas into solving the problem so they can be part of the solution.

Type 8:

Don’t assume a Type 8s direct communication style means they are against you. Type 8s are protective and care deeply for those in their inner circle. They want you to stand your ground and work through the situation with them. In conversations, be clear, direct, and truthful. They are always on the lookout for manipulation and passive-aggression, so be honest and vulnerable so they can put down their protective armor and be vulnerable in return.

Type 9:

Type 9s need your patience and genuine attention. They often discount themselves, and because it takes them time to realize what they want and need, they can feel overlooked by others. In conversations, encourage them to speak without pressuring them to be quick or decisive. Develop a safe rapport and connection by letting their voice be heard before you offer feedback. And encourage them to use their unique gifts to be part of the problem-solving process.

To learn more about the many layers of your Type and how you can better communicate with and understand others, visit and check out More than Your Number: A Christ-Centered Enneagram Approach to Becoming AWARE of Your Internal World by Beth and Jeff McCord.

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