A Rechargeable Dry Cell

by Mary Bast

On first contact, I was charmed by a prominent sign of the Five's reserved and reserving style. His e-mail inquiry for more information was written in 8-point type:

What is the going rate for an expert coach such as yourself? What are the logistics of this? How do I pay my money, do you take MasterCard, or shall I drop you a check?

These clients will be particularly likely to seek confirmation of your expertise before proceeding. You can reassure them by using words that affirm their worldview. I responded somewhat uncharacteristically by noting, "My fees compare quite favorably to other experts." In general, when talking to Fives, use language that is familiar to them (interesting, thoughtful, curious), words that will help you slip past their logical censors with symbolic tasks that break through their usual way of learning. For example, in suggesting to a client that she practice "small talk" on her frequent airplane jaunts, I urged her to ask questions that invited the person sitting next to her to talk: "Think of it as adding to your stockpile of information. You'll be intrigued with how well they respond to you."

You can expect Fives to already know their type or to learn it quickly. Personal development is not an issue of understanding for them. They want to be able to break free of the patterns they so capably observe:

My being an Enneagram Five has served me well in the past but I tend to overwhelm myself with book learning and not make any practical progress.

Well spoken!

These clients will benefit most from observing specifically how their style plays out in their own lives, and from interrupting their patterns in ways that move them out of their heads, experiencing more comfort and confidence in their interactions with others. Help them notice ways in which they withhold themselves. Be sure to give them plenty of time to think things through. Coaching by phone may be a particular advantage with Fives, because they can create whatever space they need in order to avoid premature exposure.

One offered this metaphor of his life: "I am a battery and people drain me." John Wayne Miller's Rechargeable Dry Cell Poem uses this same image to depict lovemaking, though in a more positive light:

I used to love to lie awake past bedtime

reading by flashlight under the breathing covers.

Explains why I'm Eveready, why

you're a strange new story every time.

Fives want privacy because their energy is in their thought processes. If they don't have privacy, they can't think clearly, they feel drained. Help them acknowledge legitimate claims on their time and energy. They need to be aware of who and what drains them so they can allot some private time to recharge. Their emotional health hinges on this balance between thinking and (inter)acting. Miller's Eveready lover can recharge with his mate because he is turning her pages quietly.

Let's Dance

by Clarence Thomson

A popular western song has as its chorus, "Life is a dance, you learn as you go." That may be so for musicians in love but for the unsung heroes of our day, the nerds, it isn't. Not everyone realizes that Fives with a Six wing are born with plastic pocket protectors. They are the nerds of the world and should be more appreciated. (5w4 are more artistic and philosophical.)

But Fives, nerds or not, do not see life as a dance to be learned by doing. They'd much sooner plan everything out, perhaps do a computer simulation and then go out and do it right the first time. I, for one, don't want some rocket scientist, fully equipped with a bank of computers, remark to me as I board the space ship, "Well, that'll just about get you there!"

So when you coach a Five, you're dealing with a fundamentally intellectual and rather cautious person. Fives are not "smarter" than anyone else, but they have a specific kind of ability to handle abstract principles and details that is an enormous strength to them. They are probably test-smarter (SAT's and that kind of test). You build trust with solid information, you give your client as many rational explanations as you can muster and then, when you notice saturation, you suggest change.

Fives are often responsive to cognitive dissonance. When given information that contradicts their world-view, they can jar loose from some habits. This will only take them so far, however, sooner or later, the limits of cognitive insight will be reached and you'll need to suggest action. After all, that great teacher, St. Thomas Aquinas, a towering Five, said about some problems, "They are solved by movement."

I usually begin their process of learning to share (usually a stumbling block for them), by having them share information. After all, information is the one thing you still have after you give it away, so it is not as threatening as sharing space, money, time or power. Fives need to be introduced to paradox. They tend to be incremental logical thinkers. But information shared is doubled, so is power, and finally love and other friendly emotions. Fives have a belief that everything is in short supply and getting worse, but that is a self-fulfilling belief. The opposite is equally true. Muscles used grow larger, power shared puts you in charge of more powerful people and a vision communicated grows clearer.

As an Enneagram coach, I sometimes use their highly developed skill of observation in their service. If they can be persuaded to take action that is outside their belief system, they will observe the consequences closely. When you ask them about the consequences, make sure you include emotional and social information. They often miss those categories. "How did you feel?" "What was the expression on her face?" "How much energy loss or gain did you notice?" "How long did he pause before responding and what was his voice timbre when he did?" Your Five clients will be intrigued with new types of information and hardly notice the transformation until it is too late and the situation is improved-as are they.