Have you ever found yourself trying to discuss an issue with someone but, no matter how hard you try, you just can't quite seem to get on the same page? It’s almost as if you’re speaking different languages. That's what happens when you have conflicting communication styles. Some types of people prefer a much more direct, just-the-facts approach. Others seek a more emotion-based style of communication, with carefully chosen words that communicate how they feel. This can sometimes create a breakdown in understanding. That's why knowing what your Enneagram type says about your communication skills can help you better grasp how you're expressing yourself, as well as get insight into what others are trying to convey — which, in the case of your relationship, may prove to be make-it-or-break-it.
If you're new to Enneagrams, they're a system that breaks down nine interconnected personality types based on their motivations, fears, and priorities. They can also offer a ton of insight into how you perceive and interact with others, including how you communicate in your relationships. (Not sure of your type? You can take the test here.) Sound helpful? Here's what your Enneagram type has to say about how you tend to express yourself.
Type 1: The Perfectionist
Type One is very principled and self-disciplined. They see things as black-and-white, right or wrong, and have very little patience for nuance. They hold themselves to an impossibly high standard and are frustrated when both themselves and others fall short of those expectations. This precise and somewhat rigid attitude is mirrored in their communication style. Type One tends to be very straightforward in their manner of speaking. They stick to the facts and stay away from less well-defined subjects like emotions or the use of metaphor. In an argument, they can come across judgmental or even righteous. However, they'll apologize sincerely when they are in the wrong.
Type 2: The Helper
Type Two is a caring and generous type who's deeply motivated by the desire to care for and be helpful to the people they love. This can definitely be seen in the way that they communicate. They often initiate conversations, going out of their way to check in on your well-being, whether that’s with a quick text or by taking the time to sit down and discuss what’s going on in your life. They're great listeners who lead with empathy and an honest desire to hear others out. When Two does get upset, they can have a very dramatic and over-the-top communication style that's emotional and reactionary, or they can go silent, choosing to sulk and refusing to communicate. Ultimately, they just want to have their feelings validated and understood.
Type 3: The Achiever
Type Three is very in tune with their emotions. They pride themselves on achieving their goals and use their emotional intuition to get ahead. They trust their feelings and instincts to guide them. This makes them a bit of a chameleon when it comes to their communication style. They tend to mimic the style of whomever they're speaking to. If their partner prefers more direct discourse, Three gets down to brass tacks. However, they can also soften their approach when speaking with someone who needs a lighter touch. While this can sometimes leave Three feeling less than understood, they're very easy to talk to and express yourself with.
Type 4: The Romantic
Type Four is very expressive and prides themselves on being a unique individual, and they're always looking to discover more about their identity. They're creative, artistic, and very in touch with their emotions — which tend toward the melancholy. As a result, when they communicate it can be very flowery with words that both convey their feelings and paint a picture. They're eloquent, if a bit overly wordy, and can be a little dramatic. When they're upset, they either become very cold, aloof, and standoffish, or it's a flood of words rife with emotion. They can also use their words to intentionally wound when they are hurt. While you’ll want to acknowledge Four’s feelings, it's important to stand your ground, not get overwhelmed by their outpourings, and remember that your feelings are valid, too.
Type 5: The Observer
Type Five tends to be more introverted. They're very passionate about pursuing things that intellectually stimulate and satisfy them, and they require a lot of time and freedom to dedicate to their projects. They can sometimes struggle with communication around emotions and approach conversations from a more analytical perspective. This means they can communicate clearly, as they speak with clarity and intention. However, when approached on more emotional subjects, they can come across as disconnected or annoyed. And when upset, they can turn to passive-aggressive forms of communication. The best course of action is to walk away when a conversation with Five gets heated, since they won’t be able to fully hear you when emotions are heightened.
Type 6: The Questioner
Type Six is uncomfortable with change, as they crave stability and security above all else. They can sometimes be very suspicious of others' motives and are very protective of themselves and those they love. As a result, it's important to be very clear about both your feelings and intentions with Six, because they're on the lookout for ulterior motives and dishonesty. When they communicate, they go out of their way to convey friendliness and use humor to disarm others. When their suspicion is aroused, they'll question things relentlessly to make sure they're not going to get caught off guard. It's best to always be an open book with Type Six.
Type 7: The Adventurer
Type Seven is all about actions over words. Seven is forward-thinking, adventurous, and free-spirited. They have a passion for life and are very hard to pin down. They're effusive, excited, and brimming with optimism. This all comes across in their communication style, which is energetic and expressive. They're great storytellers who love the feeling of having an audience. They don’t have much of a tolerance for arguing or disagreeing, and prefer to keep things light. Harder conversations tend to make Seven disconnect or get frustrated to the point of losing their temper. They just don't do negativity. The key to getting through to Type Seven is to keep it short and sweet, communicate clearly and succinctly, and give them the time and space they need to absorb it.
Type 8: The Protector
Type Eight is motivated by two things: protecting themselves and their loved ones — and they make no bones about it. They aren’t afraid to be confrontational and intense when they feel threatened. They're direct and even harsh when they feel that it's warranted, and this can be very intimidating, despite it coming from a very good place. Because they feel valid in their motivation, they speak their mind clearly and in no uncertain terms. In return, they appreciate straight shooters who speak their minds just as unflinchingly. If you want to convey your perspective to Type Eight, it's important to stand your ground and not let their strong personality run over yours. Be firm, but not aggressive. Don't pick unnecessary fights, but don't be pushed around by them either. While this might frustrate Type Eight at first, they can’t help but respect it.
Type 9: The Peacemaker
Type Nine is the most common of all the Enneagrams; they're the folks who keep communities running along smoothly, as they're the peacekeepers who get along with everyone. They'd prefer to avoid confrontations and would like to keep things on an even keel. Their communication style reflects this by being very conscientious. They try not to get too heated and sometimes sublimate their feelings just to get along. This can make it challenging to suss out the real core of their issue in a heated discussion, so it may require some pushing for them to open up, particularly if they think it will lead to further disagreement. Their goal is to just find a compromise and resolution that will allow things to get back to normal as quickly as possible. This can cause resentment to grow until Nine has one of their rare outbursts. The best way to approach Nine when there's an issue is to do so in a calm manner and by proposing a solution to the problem, or at least a clear description of what you need. Most times, Type Nine will be more than happy to oblige.
Healthy communication is equal parts expressing what you're feeling and hearing what your partner's saying. Because communication styles can vary so much, one or both of these can be tricky. Understanding each other's communication style can be like a decoder that allows you to both find a common language that’s all your own. Enneagrams are just one tool for finding those answers and getting on the same linguistic wavelength. Once you do that, your communication can't help but level up.