Enneagram in the Workplace: Using Your Type to Your Advantage

The Enneagram is a personality test that has been gaining more attention in recent years. Despite its recent popularity, it originates from ancient traditions. It contains nine distinct personality types named by number.

As with any personality test, you’ll likely identify with small pieces of multiple types, but one will stand out as most like you. This personality appears during childhood and does not change throughout life, though your traits within your type fluctuate with your health or time of life.

The numbers as names of the types are not significant, and no type is better than another. Each type has positive and negative traits, and each person needs to learn how to best handle their own characteristics.

There’s a lot more about the Enneagram that I won’t get into here, so I’d recommend checking out The Enneagram Institute if you’re interested in more information and additional resources.

Here are some tips for improving yourself in relation to your Enneagram type, specifically in regards to your communication in the workplace.

1. The Reformer

Principled, purposeful, self-controlled, perfectionistic

Ones are highly motivated by wanting to be right, improving everything, and being beyond criticism. When stressed, they may become emotional or unreasonable. But in times of growth, they become spontaneous and cheerful.

In the workplace

To maximize positivity in the workplace as a one, focus on growth in situations. Stressful situations, of course, can cause negative feelings—but they are also a time to improve oneself. Focus on the positive and encourage others to do the same. You will be seen as someone who does well under pressure and is always looking for growth opportunities, rather than someone who is an anxious perfectionist and thinks their actions aren’t good enough.

2. The Helper

Generous, demonstrative, people-pleasing, possessive

Twos are people who crave love and appreciation. They serve everyone else before themselves, hoping they’ll receive the love they want in return for their actions. This approach may become hostile or dominating when they are stressed. However, twos are more self-aware and self-supporting when in a positive, healthy state.

In the workplace

Helping others is a great quality to have in the workplace. Make sure that you have enough time to do the things you need to do for yourself. Set aside time each day to focus on your own personal tasks. Colleagues will respect this time, especially when you’re already spending time helping them with their responsibilities. With this approach, you won’t end up being too overbearing when other people need their own time.

3. The Achiever

Adaptable, accomplished, driven, image-conscious

Threes aim to impress. They want recognition for their successes but are already determined and competent. When under stress, they can become disinterested. When at their best, they can be very cooperative and work well with others.

In the workplace

To combat disinterest, in times of stress, focus on what you can do to help the team. Instead of focusing on your own personal advancement, try to help your team. You may find that it’s easier to focus on that than your usual day-to-day work and goals.

4. The Individualist

Expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, temperamental

Fours are people who value their personal expression, imagination, and identity. They prioritize taking care of emotional needs before anything else. Under stress, they can become overcommitted. However, in times of growth, fours become unbiased and honorable.

In the workplace

Being over-committed can quickly cause burnout in today’s society of overworking and multitasking. When you feel stressed, take a look at your workload and make sure you haven’t signed up for too much. Take a step back from tasks that aren’t necessary, and come back to them when you have more time or mental energy. Doing so may help boost creativity by increasing your capacity to brainstorm, helping you do your best work.

5. The Investigator

Expressive, innovative, secretive, isolated

Fives strive to understand everything around them in order to protect themselves. During stressful moments, this may cause them to become over-energetic or scattered. When at their best, fives are confident and decisive.

In the workplace

Especially in consulting, understanding constraints and requirements is valuable— so you’re likely to thrive. If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, focus on simple steps you can take instead of trying to solve every problem or find every unknown. Making lists may help in this process. Lists can help raise your decisiveness and confidence to bring you back to your best, even in stressful situations.

6. The Loyalist

Engaging, responsible, anxious, suspicious

Sixes love having security and support from others. When they feel supported, they are less apprehensive and trust in themselves. However, they may become aggressive or conceited when trying to gain people’s support. At their peak, sixes are relaxed and optimistic.

In the workplace

While everyone can appreciate an optimistic attitude at work, it’s especially valuable to a client. The key is to focus on the support that you have from your team, not on competition. Use that support to your advantage in day-to-day work, team, and client meetings, and don’t get lost in your competitiveness.

7. The Enthusiast

Spontaneous, versatile, acquisitive, scattered

Sevens focus on freedom and satisfaction and have a strong “fear of missing out.” They may become judgmental or overly perfectionistic in stressful situations. When they’re healthy, sevens are focused and fascinated by life.

In the workplace

By focusing on successes instead of losses, you can bring happiness and level-headedness to any team. Don’t focus on the things you don’t have or haven’t achieved. Instead, pay attention to the positives of your project. This will help you avoid the perfectionist mentality and stay focused and agile.

8. The Challenger

Self-confident, decisive, willful, confrontational

Eights aim to be self-sufficient and like to prove their strength. They want to be necessary to the world (or project) and be in control of situations. They may become secretive or scared when under stress, but at their best, eights are caring and candid.

In the workplace

Being self-sufficient on a project is always helpful, but often, you’ll need to work on a team. Prove your strength to your team by taking the lead on big initiatives that no one else wants to do or by helping new team members. When under stress, focus on your team and what they need. If you become too scared, you won’t be able to deliver for your team when they need you most.

9. The Peacemaker

Receptive, reassuring, complacent, resigned

Nines want to create harmony and avoid conflict. They don’t like change and avoid anything that would be upsetting. Under stress, nines become anxious and apprehensive. But at their best, they are self-evolving and energetic.

In the workplace

Anxiety is a hard emotion to combat, but you can think about it as an opportunity to create harmony within yourself. When under stress, don’t feel like you have to tackle the problems head-on. Instead, focus on the situation as a potential growth opportunity. Confront your worries, and see that growth as a source of energy.


These brief descriptions only begin to dive into the complicated framework of the Enneagram. Even if you don’t know what your type is, these tips for the workplace can be helpful as everyone varies in their own type, depending on their emotions and time of life. Overall, determining your type may help you better understand how you can best handle stress and communication in a work environment.

For more information on the Enneagram, please visit The Enneagram Institute.