Understanding one’s Enneagram Type, Tritype and Instinctual Subtype can dramatically increase one’s ability to critically self-assess. With awareness, one can apply the wisdom of these insights and can create the opportunity for radical change and transformation.
People new to the Enneagram love to discover the Enneagram Types of their friends, family members and co-workers. Initially, one may mistype themselves or others. This happens for a number of reasons. Knowing what to look for can help to increase the possibility of accurately typing one’s self and others.
1 Behavior vs Motivation
First and foremost, the Enneagram is a model of motivation and NOT behavior. It is not what one does, but rather why one does what they do that is important when considering one’s dominant Enneagram Type. Looking at behavior alone will lead one astray much of the time. One needs to examine multiple factors when determining type, including: language use, energy, micro expressions, gestures, posture, carriage, tone, archetype, and whenever possible interviews.
2 Intuitive Hit Gut Reaction
When typing 'instantly' we are doing the 'blink' test as described in Malcolm Gladwell's book, Blink. It is often accurate but sometimes it is not. As cool as it would be to type someone instantly, it is just not possible. Soon, computer software will be able to analyze facial features and movements and be able to do it. Until that time, we need to examine multiple factors to confirm type including: language use, focus, body type, posture, facial features, energy, archetype, and micro expressions.
3 Self- Awareness
One’s self-image does not always include all aspects of one’s personality. Many of us see ourselves as we feel we would like to be, should be or need to be, rather than as we actually are. To confirm one’s dominant Enneagram Type, Tritype and Instinctual Type with the greatest degree of certainty, one needs to possess or develop critical self-awareness. This generally needs introspection as well as feedback from others.
4 Testing Instruments
Testing instruments are helpful indicators of one’s potential Enneagram Type but instruments are only as accurate as an individual’s ability to self-assess. Testing accurately is especially difficult for Types 6 and Type 9, as they tend to see themselves and others in terms of behaviors and situations rather than motivations. This is an important aspect of their defense strategies. Both seek balance, identify with other points of view and evade anything perceived to be limiting.
5 Tritype When one first learns about the Enneagram, one will often relate to a few Enneagram types, often identifying some of the types in one’s Tritype: the dominant type in each center of intelligence, head (567), heart (234) and gut (891). One is motivated by the needs and concerns of all three types in their Tritype. In the beginning, some may identify with one of the types in their Tritype more than the other types. It may or may not be their dominant type. It can take time to clarify which type is dominant.
6 Instinctual Subtype
Often, one can mistype due to common look-a-likes. The three Instinctual Types: self-preservation (security), social (belonging), and sexual (intimacy) can appear similar to the three centers of intelligence: gut (891), head (567) and heart (234).
The Instinctual Types are the more primitive aspects of personality. Sometimes one’s instinct can be so dominant that it is hard to see which Enneagram Type is dominant. For example, sexual subtypes can appear 4ish or like heart types (234), self-preserving subtypes can appear 6ish or like gut types (891) and social subtypes can appear 1ish or like head types (567).
7 Lexicon Language Use
22 years of research has revealed that each Enneagram Type, Tritype and Instinctual Type speaks in its own lexicon. One will describe events and people in the language of their primary Type, Tritype and Instinct. For Example, the 7 will be playful and talk about what is fun, interesting and exciting whereas the 6 will caution others and focus on certainty, possible threats, and what can go wrong.
8 Micro Expressions and Movements
How one looks and expresses themselves can give important clues as to one’s Enneagram Type. Micro expressions can help to distinguish common look-a-likes if we consider one’s use of the 7 primary emotions and resulting micro expressions: anger, contempt, disgust, fear, sadness, surprise, and happiness. Each Enneagram Type tends to overuse some micro expressions more than other micro expressions. For example, the 1, 4 and 7 all overuse the micro expression of contempt whereas the 6 overuses the micro expressions of fear and surprise.
Some combinations are especially confusing. For example, gut (891) types that have the sexual instinct are often confused with heart (234) types. However, if you examine micro expressions and micro movements, it is easier to see important clues that further suggest type.
For example, generally speaking, the sexual 8 eyes are piercing and feral with the corners of the mouth turned down whereas the social 2 eyes are sore, liquid, attentive, and tracking with the corners of the mouth turned up.
The energy of the head types (567) is excitable and erratic whereas the energy of the gut (891) types is slower and more measured. The tone of the heart types (234) is light and melodic whereas the tone of the gut (891) types is more monotone.
There are 7 basic visual archetypes in each type: Priest, Server, Artisan, Sage, King, Warrior and Scholar. A primary archetype was assigned to many of the Enneagram Types and has become the stereotype. If an individual has the same archetype as the stereotype of their respective type, they are much easier to identify. This happens about 80% of the time. The other 20% are atypical and one must observe the lexicon use and micro expressions of the individual to confirm type.
For Example, Tom Cruise is a Priest archetype and the Priest is the stereotype of sexual 3. So, most experts agree that he is a 3. Russell Crow is the Warrior archetype and the Warrior is the stereotype of 8, so, most agree that he is an 8. An atypical example of archetype is Kate Hudson. She is a sexual 7 with the Server/Sage archetype. The expected archetype for sexual 7 is the Sage/Priest.
10 Psychological Health
Being psychologically healthy and spiritually aware always makes it more difficult to type someone by behavior. Anyone can behave well or badly. Again, it is not what we do but why we do it that determines someone’s type. That is why it is essential to type by motivations and core fears rather than behaviors. An individual’s education, spiritual or psychological development does not matter if you focus on what motivates someone.
I would also add one's MBTI... There are always exceptions. In general, the assertive types are 8, 7 and 3 but they can be introverted which can make typing a little more complex. Just as you can be extroverted and be a withdrawn type such as 4, 5 or 9.
The symbolism and meaning we give to something can change the energy. For example, yin/yang is a common symbol for the 9. But any type can appreciate the symbol. The question is why someone likes a symbol. If it is because a loved one liked it, it is very different that I relate to the yin/yang symbol.