Rita, a successful financial analyst, initially struggled with communicating with her superior. She always felt that he was distracted and aloof in their one-on-one review meetings, which led to her feeling like she was doing something wrong.
However, learning that her superior is a type 1 who appreciated clearness and well-articulated thinking paved the way for better communication down the road, even if it meant that Rita, a type 4 herself, had to slightly tweak her communication method.
Just as someone who engages in straightforward and to-the-point communication would appreciate the same from another person, communicating with an Enneagram type is most effective when you can put your thoughts across in a way that they appreciate.
Here’s how each Enneagram type communicates.
As mentioned earlier, type 1s value directness and clarity, and they firmly believe in listening to all viewpoints and being fair. This makes it easy to communicate with a 1, but at the same time, long-winded speeches will get you little result.
Additionally, 1s can sometimes be quick to judge and pepper their communication with strong words such as “must”, “should”, and “that’s not right”. In such cases, it’s best to listen to everything the 1 has to say, and then try to put forth your opinion by using words such as “that’s interesting” to acknowledge their views, and then saying that you see it a bit differently.
Instead of putting your 1 on the defensive, you’re inciting their curiosity with such word choices and inviting them to explore your views with you.
- Type 1 Communication Strengths: 1s are polite, honest, and to the point.
- Type 1 Communication Weaknesses: 1s can get judgmental and opinionated. They can then switch to lecturing, correcting, or delivering sermons.
- The Best Way to Communicate with a Type 1: Be honest, to the point, and say what you mean, even if it is “negative”.
If 2s had one wish, it would probably be for people to be afraid of how much they love them, a la Michael Scott! 2s love being loved and helping people (which they use to validate themselves and make them indispensable to people they’re helping, the sneaky little do-gooders!), so communicating with a type 2 means being met with generosity, warmth, and care.
2s are excellent at positive reinforcement. They will give you lots of it, and advice, very freely, but should you choose not to take this, they may get needy and manipulate you into taking it (if you’re a type 2, keep an eye out for times when you feel insistent, and if you do, take a step back).
However, more often than not, communication from a 2 comes from good intentions and a genuine need to be helpful. If you don’t want to take their advice or start to feel overwhelmed, thank them for their time, effort, and care, and let them know you’d like a bit of time and space to try it a different way before you try theirs.
- Type 2 Communication Strengths: 2s are helpful, caring, and compassionate.
- Type 2 Communication Weaknesses: 2s can get indirect, intrusive, and manipulative while communicating, giving you unsolicited advice.
- The Best Way to Communicate with a Type 2: Let the 2 know you appreciate their concern and help. Genuinely share your feelings.
With 3s, pragmatic, clear communication that aims to find a solution is the way to go (solutions are victories, and we all know about 3s and victories!).
A conversation that ends with a solution is a way for 3s to feel good about themselves, but this pursuit of a solution can lead to them coming across as self-promoting, impatient, or sharp to the other person. It can also come at the expense of properly listening to the other person.
- Type 3 Communication Strengths: 3s tend to be clear, confident, encouraging, and efficient in their communication.
- Type 3 Communication Weaknesses: 3s can be withholding, impatient, and move too fast through communication.
- The Best Way to Communicate with a Type 3: Be tactful but tell them what exactly you want. Be direct.
4s are reflective and thoughtful and this shows in their communication. Just as they can appreciate emotional nuances, subtlety, and unlocking hard places in communication, they appreciate others doing this.
4s can become properly poetic in their communication, throwing in even metaphors and other tools of the language that most of us have long abandoned!
While this is beautiful in its way, it can lead to impatience in someone who appreciates direct conversation. The message can also get lost in translation with such people. Therefore, if you’re a 4, balance your flowery speech with clear action statements or requests.
- Type 4 Communication Strengths: 4s are authentic, expressive, empathetic, and deep.
- Type 4 Communication Weaknesses: 4s can get condescending, long-winded, and self-focused.
- The Best Way to Communicate with a Type 4: Be authentic and don’t try to correct or change their style. If they appear withdrawn or moody while communicating, don’t take it personally. Instead, invite them to share their thoughts and issues without trying to fix them.
5s are inherently curious, excited souls who can see the big picture very well. They’re constantly introspecting and examining things that interest them, but this can make them come across as emotionally unavailable and remote. Try to ask them what their thoughts are instead of something as intrusive as what they’re thinking at that moment.
- Type 5 Communication Strengths: 5s are logical, observant, respectful, and curious.
- Type 5 Communication Weaknesses: 5s can be arrogant, impersonal, and withdrawn.
- The Best Way to Communicate with a Type 5: Be straightforward and logical, taking care not to be intrusive but inviting.
6s are warm, witty people, with a communication style that’s just the same. 6s can communicate thoughtfully and assess options well, but they can second-guess themselves and get anxious.
When talking to a type 6, don’t put them on the spot, as this is a type that likes to check out all its options. Help them feel supported, give them time to prepare, and ensure that they don’t feel solely responsible to translate words into actions.
- Type 6 Communication Strengths: 6s are warm, caring, complex, and witty.
- Type 6 Communication Weaknesses: 6s can get easily agitated, anxious, reactive, overly skeptical, and self-doubting.
- The Best Way to Communicate with a Type 6: Cover all the details with a type 6, and don’t judge any worries or fears that they express to you.
7s are enthusiastic, energetic, and optimistic. With 7s, gleaning all the details can be challenging. 7s tend to skim through things, especially because they’re brimming with so many ideas. This can make 7s come across as unfocused or all over the place.
7s can also refrain from discussing negative or hard topics.
- Type 7 Communication Strengths: 7s can be optimistic, lively, and engaging.
- Type 7 Communication Weaknesses: 7s can talk too fast, get self-focused, be scattered, and be distracted.
- The Best Way to Communicate with a Type 7: When pushing forth an idea, push it forth with the perks. Getting too negative will scare away a 7.
8s are direct, assertive, and honest. If you looked at an 8’s diary entry—well, you wouldn’t find one because 8s hate saying more than necessary!
Their love for direct communication can make 8s seem intimidating and demanding, but 8s are very generous and fiercely protective of those on their team. They appreciate direct conversation and like being challenged, as this lets them figure out where they stand. They also love debates and discussions.
- Type 8 Communication Strengths: 8s are honest, direct, confident, and protective.
- Type 8 Communication Weaknesses: 8s can be demanding, aggressive, and insensitive.
- The Best Way to Communicate with a Type 8: Be direct and allow them time to process what you’ve said. Being bold may be met with enthusiasm and open up new possibilities in your relationship.
9s have a calm presence because they avoid conflict with a burning passion. This also means that they’re very careful when it comes to the words they choose, as they don’t want to offend anyone. 9s see all sides of a problem, which makes them great mediators.
However, this makes it hard to figure out which side 9s can be on, because of this tendency to play mediator. You may have to actively (but gently) seek out a bottom line.
- Type 9 Communication Strengths: 9s can be gentle, supportive, and non-judgmental listeners.
- Type 9 Communication Weaknesses: 9s can be passive-aggressive and indecisive.
- The Best Way to Communicate with a Type 9: Don’t interrupt 9s. When seeking a firm stand from this type, stick to either/or options instead of open-ended ones.
Learning how different Enneagrams communicate can pave the way for smoother communication, whether it’s in a professional or personal setting. You’re more likely to get results and increase productivity, so invest in the effort to learn how to communicate with different Enneagram types!