The Communicating Enneagram: #1 Influencing Others


Back in 2004, I undertook an exploration of how two models for understanding people; Language And Behaviour Profile, and the Enneagram of Personality Types, correlated with each other.

The project was one of my five essays, submitted to become a Riso-Hudson Certified Teacher, which I subsequently was granted by the Russ Hudson and the late Don Richard Riso, with highest honours, January 2005. An abridged version was published in Enneagram Monthly later that year.

Over the coming weeks, I will be publishing the un-abridged version of the essay, along with the additional appendix and supporting material that was not included in the Enneagram Monthly publication. I hope this will serve as a debate, a curiosity and even some additional insights for anyone who works with the Enneagram as a coach, therapist of business consultant.

Not only may it add to your knowledge of the nine personality types, I hope it will ignite some interest in the some of NLP insights that can enhance your communication and influencing skills.

The Communicating Enneagram: #1 Influencing Others

As we grow through childhood into adult life, we are likely to encounter people who seem to behave differently from ourselves. In some cases this may be a more extreme variation of something we may think as normal.  Like comparing yourself to someone who leaves a good job to work in the voluntary service “I enjoy helping out at the soup kitchen but I wouldn’t go that far”.

In other circumstance the difference in behaviour can be challenging and lead to conflict  “I don’t know how you can just sit their watching television when you can see the dishes from breakfast still need washing up” As a result, we may find ourselves asking the question “why do people behave as they do?”

This is probably the sort of simple line of questioning that has furnished us with much of our current psychology of human behaviour.

The Enneagram offers immense insight into the core motivations for our own and other peoples’ behaviour. More importantly, it provides a pathway for personal development and indicators to warn us that when we are regressing into unhealthy states and habitual patterns of behaviour.

However, by itself, just knowing why someone behaves as they do, will not alleviate certain problems that can be experienced when two people attempt to work together, live together or are communicating a concern or new idea.

Messrs Riso and Hudson’s development of the Enneagram provides us with nine distinctive levels of development that can be sub-divided into aspects of our personality that are either Average, Healthy or Un-healthy.  Under stress, and without adequate awareness, we are liable exhibit behaviours that indicate we have dropped down a level or start to ‘act out’ of our line of disintegration; or both.

Problems in communication and relationships occur when two people are habitually behaving out of the lower levels of their personality type. This is particularly noticeable from level six down, the low average levels.
Riso and Hudson discovered that relationships where there is more than three levels apart will experience difficulty. This can be problematical, even if you are working on yourself to maintain a healthy awareness and a presence that is at say, level three or four; because you will surely encounter people in your work and leisure pursuits who may not be as aware of their stress- related habits and who are acting out of levels more likely to be at level six and seven at times.

Influencing other people is something we do all the time, and not always for the better.
The axiom “Our example is not just one of the ways we influence people, it is the only way we influence people” is a tidy reminder to be more aware of our own habits before condemning the behaviour of people with whom we might experiencing difficulty.

Whether we like it or not, unless we decide to shut ourselves away and live as hermits, we need ways of communicating with other people that fit with their way of thinking in order to inform and influence.
What is more, it is only when you are aware and present, free from your own habitual thinking and behaving that this is possible. It is also incumbent on the person with a state of presence and awareness to make the shift that will match the other person. Only then is it possible, but not always inevitable, that they may be lead into different ways of behaving and thinking.

This is particularly true for people who are working as coaches, therapists and trainers.

Next Blog in the series  The Communicating Enneagram; #2 Developing Awareness

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