The 9 Enneagram Personality Types, Explained (2024)

The 9 Enneagram Personality Types, Explained (1)

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The 9 Enneagram Personality Types, Explained (2)

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What’s the Enneagram system?

The 9 Enneagram personality types

The 3 triads

3 uses of the Enneagram test

A limitation of the Enneagram system

Know thyself

Most people have taken a personality test at some point. Maybe your friends were curious whether you were type A or type B, or perhaps your astrology sign guides every decision you make. No matter how much weight you place on these personal evaluations, the results likely inspire self-reflection.

While your personality isn’t rigid and unmalleable, being curious about where you stand regarding different personality tests showcases your drive toward self-awareness and improvement. When you consider what makes you tick, you can better advocate for your needs and develop your emotional intelligence skills.

Enneagram personality types build on a complex system of overlapping personality categories and subcategories to provide insights about how you think, feel, and act. No matter your personal or professional growth goals, the Enneagram test can deepen your self-knowledge and help you live intentionally.

What’s the Enneagram system?

The Enneagram system is a way of classifying personality types into nine categories:

  1. The reformer
  2. The helper
  3. The achiever
  4. The individualist
  5. The investigator
  6. The loyalist
  7. The enthusiast
  8. The challenger
  9. The peacemaker

The 9 Enneagram Personality Types, Explained (3)

This system represents these types as points along the edge of a circle. Each point represents a “character” — one of the nine personality types defined by emotional, cognitive, and behavioral patterns. These are dominant personality types, with the types on either side known as “wings.”

If your dominant personality type is number one, your wings would be nine and two. This means you’ll also identify with aspects of these types. And people tend to relate more with one of these two wings.

Lines run from each number to two other types, and these lines represent the personality traits you take on during stress versus security. For example, a type two personality would take on type eight qualities when stressed and type four qualities when secure.

While a part of discovering your dominant personality type is self-reflection and discovery, you can also take online personality tests, perhaps working your way through the questions with an unbiased friend who can offer an outsider’s perspective on your common behavioral traits.

The 9 Enneagram personality types

From a young age, you’ve likely noticed common characteristics in yourself and others. Perhaps your parents often called you a perfectionist as you kept your room spotless every day, or maybe you admired how your sibling always helped others.

These common threads suggest someone’s Enneagram personality type. Keeping your own behavioral tendencies in mind, here are the nine types, including the pros and cons of each category.

1. The Reformer

You’re rational, idealistic, and a bit of a perfectionist. And people often describe you as principled and purposeful.

Because you’re disciplined and have high moral regard, you’re a natural teacher. But you might suffer from your perfectionist tendencies, being overly critical of yourself and others. Complement your natural high performance by developing empathy and paying attention to any implicit biases that might accompany your strong opinions.

2. The Helper

You’re generous, caring, and want to please others. But your empathy and friendliness sometimes cause you to sacrifice your needs.

To gain fulfillment from your community-minded personality while also self-advocating, evaluate whether your interpersonal relationships are mutually beneficial. And carve out time each week for self-care. This teaches you that your needs matter, too.

3. The Achiever

You’re adaptable, confident, and pragmatic. But your drive for success can transform your type-A personality into workaholism. To maintain a healthy work-life balance and retain meaningful relationships, remember to fill your own cup by taking free time and watching for signs of burnout.

4. The Individualist

You’re sensitive, introspective, and introverted, with a flair for the creative. Following your passion and developing work that reflects your personal identity are intrinsic motivators that drive you forward.

Sometimes this means you quickly feel purposeless and unfulfilled doing work that doesn’t speak to you. You might find it harder to handle situations where you’re one in a group — like one of 10 engineers on a team. Just remember that everyone’s unique opinion and purpose matter, even in a crowded room.

5. The Investigator

If you’re often engrossed in deep reflection, you’re probably an investigator. Investigators are perceptive critical thinkers that enjoy complex problem-solving. But this means you can sometimes become lost in daydreams, causing detachment and isolation.

That said, you’re a valuable workplace asset since you’re creative and offer innovative, outside-the-box thinking. Your ideas could lead to disruptive innovation that pushes your team to new bounds.

The 9 Enneagram Personality Types, Explained (4)

6. The Loyalist

You’re reliable, hard-working, and seek safety and comfort. Because you strive for security, you’re a natural troubleshooter, constantly considering potential obstacles and devising backup plans.

While you’re an excellent and loyal friend, you might overthink and worry a lot. Try to take small steps out of your comfort zone — like saying yes to spontaneous get-togethers or starting a conversation with a stranger — to teach yourself that you can handle unknown situations.

7. The Enthusiast

You’re easy to spot from across the room because you’re talkative, fun-loving, and extroverted. You also tend to collaborate well since you enjoy spending time with others.

But you love change and might flit from project to project, so you could work to improve your focusing skills. This might mean thoughtfully setting goals and sticking to them, working with a career coach to ensure success.

8. The Challenger

You’re self-confident, assertive, and incredibly resourceful, which is why you tend to attain leadership roles. But you might forget that not everyone is gifted with this level of self-confidence and might shut down quieter coworkers or push direct reports too hard.

Consider building your empathy skills to ensure you can relate to less self-assured individuals, raising them up in more delicate and supportive ways.

9. The Peacemaker

You’re the glue that holds a group together, acting as a mediator during conflict. You’re often the person coworkers and friends come to when dealing with an issue because you try your best to offer an objective and unbiased perspective.

But you may suffer from the side effects of toxic empathy, like exhaustion, anxiety, and disinterest. Try to set boundaries regarding the number and intensity of issues you’ll handle to ensure you retain your mental energy.

The 3 triads

Your Enneagram test results indicate where in the body your dominant thinking stems from, which affects your decision-making and goal-setting. These are the three triad types, named “triads” because they each cover three personality types.

  1. Heart types: Helpers, Achievers, and Individualists feel with their heart, making decisions based on emotions and setting relationship-focused goals.
  2. Head types: Investigators, Loyalists, and Enthusiasts lead with their head, engaging with the world through knowledge and learning. These types value logic and pragmatism and may ignore gut feelings or personal desires when making decisions.
  3. Body types: Reformers, Challengers, and Peacemakers are intuitive thinkers who follow gut feelings. This means snap judgments and poor planning sometimes hinder effective decision-making.

The 9 Enneagram Personality Types, Explained (5)

3 uses of the Enneagram test

Knowing the core characteristics that guide your thoughts, feelings, and decision-making is powerful information that can help you be more perceptive and in tune with your motivations.

Here are three more ways finding out your Enneagram personality type might benefit you:

  1. Personal and professional development: While everyone has strengths and weaknesses, sometimes you might focus on one more than the other. Perhaps you’re afraid to address weaknesses because you suffer from low self-esteem, or maybe you’re embracing your strengths to combat imposter syndrome.

    But taking personality tests offers an opportunity to address both pros and cons so you gain a more holistic understanding of who you are and where you can improve. Doing so helps you reach your full potential to enjoy further personal and professional growth.

  2. Team building: Effective teams are built by dynamic groups of people with unique perspectives, experiences, and skill sets. Understanding how everyone excels in different ways (or needs different levels of support) ensures that your team leverages everyone’s potential, building better teams based on individual personalities.

  3. Emotional intelligence: Learning more about and taking personality tests are great ways to understand your emotions and those of others. You can then adjust to these differences.

    You might persuade a coworker to jump on board with your idea by using data instead of appealing to their intuition if you think they’re an Investigator type. Or maybe, as a Helper, you try to focus more on what your gut is telling you instead of always making emotion-based decisions.

A limitation of the Enneagram system

Like many personality classification methods, the Enneagram system relies on self-reporting, meaning individuals must be self-aware enough to correctly categorize themselves. And self-reporting is notoriously unreliable since it’s difficult to remove all personal biases from assessments, and memories are fallible.

As you assess yourself and determine your Enneagram type, remember that this is a qualitative and intuitive system, not one bolstered by extensive scientific or psychological research.

Know thyself

While personalities are fluid and you can always adjust your behavioral tendencies, it never hurts to explore who you are and why. Reading about Enneagram personality types is one way of exploring your emotions and positive and negative character traits. You can then work toward fostering those you love and improving upon habits you’re not as fond of.

Consider starting this introspective process by journaling about who you think you are, maybe writing a list of five of your favorite character traits and five of your least favorite. Then read over each of the nine Enneagram types, choose one for yourself, and validate it with an online quiz. To satisfy any further curiosities, work with friends and coworkers to discuss their types.

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Published September 12, 2023

The 9 Enneagram Personality Types, Explained (2024)
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