Twelve Symbolic Questions

To Uncover An Enneagram Style:

These 12 symbolic questions usually reveal a personís Enneagram style. You are free to use them to determine a clientís Enneagram habits. (Click here for a copy of the questions.)

I choose symbolic questions because they reach into the emotional and assumptive regions of our consciousness. They have a natural depth that a trait doesnít have. The Enneagram is more about motivation than behavior. The questions are not really about behavior, they are about the choices we make. Choices are sometimes just cultural habits or family traditions, but layering a dozen choices tends to filter out most of those. Many Americans will say they waste time on Facebook, but so many do that the answer is not significant. This is an art, not a science.

The Enneagram habits are, like many habits, partially conscious and partially hidden from our awareness. When you drive a car, you know what you are doing, but on the other hand, you donít pay any attention unless your habit is not working well. If you always drive 70 MPH on the highway and you donít change when it is icy, you get into trouble. You then have to examine your habit.

When you coach a client, you will need to learn, examine and perhaps challenge the matrix of assumptions, perceptions and responses that make up the clientís Enneagram set of habits.

You donít have to use the Enneagram numbers when you talk with a client; just recognize one or more of the components of their style. Your clients will be amazed at how intuitive you are.

If you are a sophisticated user of the Enneagram, the diagram is helpful. A client will have a style with two connecting lines Ė stress and security points in the literature Ė and the client will have more resources at those points than at other energy positions. For example, a style Five will usually withdraw under pressure. You wouldnít suggest he work as a volunteer some place Ėthe kind of activity a style Two would gravitate toward. You might suggest joining Toastmasterís (the connection to Seven) because now you have combined sociability with information and that keeps him in his strength but expands it into a new area.

You probably will not be able to discern an Enneagram style from these questions unless you are intimately aware of a lot of details about each style or are unusually intuitive. This is not for beginners. This is an art, not a science, so sometimes it is necessary to ask a few follow-up questions. For example, to distinguish a self-preservation One with anxiety from a Six is difficult. You have to get at the emotional motivation.

If you use it, you will see patterns you didnít expect. For example, 80-90% of the Nines say that if they were an animal, they will be a large slow animal (horse, elephant, occasionally a whaleÖ) and Sixes usually pick dogs (loyalty is paramount).

If you are relatively new to the Enneagram and know its power but have difficulty discerning types, I offer this service: you give the client the questions. The client responds and one of you sends me the responses. I will then have an hour with the client or with both you, explain the styleís strengths and weaknesses and then make a few suggestions on how to work together. You donít coach an Eight the same way you coach a Six, and you donít treat the high energy of a Seven like the similar energy of a Three in the same way. It usually gets the coaching process off to a strong start or frees up the process if they have been working together but are getting stuck. I charge $100 for the process.