Expensive Fear

A lawyer friend who had taken my Enneagram seminar asked if I would be a negotiation consultant. The stakes were high: one group was suing another group for several million dollars. It sounded like something the Enneagram could help with, so I went to the negotiation room with three lawyers on one side and five on another. They were going to negotiate how much money group A had to pay group B for a charged malpractice.

I noticed the official negotiator was a Nine, as was my lawyer friend. I also noticed that the official didn't respond well to my observations. He seemed to not like me. Then I realized that I talk in visual metaphors, in a fast tempo. I'm a head type and excited at that. He preferred my friend's slow, almost southern drawl. They were in sync. They were both gut types and kinesthetic processors.

The chief negotiator for the opposition was a clear Three. He practically preened before the group. He was sharp, though, so we had to be careful. (I suggested to my lawyer friend that when he presented his case he implicitly flatter the Three, which he did brilliantly).

But the man who would write the check seemed to me to be a phobic Six, highly uncomfortable in this high voltage situation with worry written all over his face. I suggested to my friend that as the day came to an end we slightly threaten him with scrapping the negotiation process. He would take the slight threat, I reasoned, and go away making home movies in his head of the worst that could happen. I then suggested that my friend call him in a few days after he had worried himself into a nice lather.

But when we made our last gambit (the slight threat and delay), they came back in 10 minutes with a settlement we found quite satisfactory. They upped their offer from $900,000 to 1.7 million, a last minute jump (out of fear) of $800,000!

What amazed me and my legal colleagues was how clearly and dramatically people acted out their Enneagram styles. They gave their speeches, quoted their sources, did their charts and ran the numbers. But they decided by their Enneagram style. So, one more use for the Enneagram.