Sevens are most apt to be misunderstood when they try to entertain inappropriately. To really get this, it helps to have taught sophomores. They are so funny and so irritating.
To understand their annoying, sometimes funny, behavior here is a true story.
I’ll call him JD. He was an irritating class-disrupting clown. His girl friend just happened to be in the class. It was the common good-girl/bad boy linkage. The good girl came up to me after class and apologized for JD’s disruptive behavior. I told her it was her fault. She was shocked and denied any wrong-doing. So I explained he was trying to please her. So if she wanted him to stop, all she had to do was look scornful (or at least not amused) and soon he would stop. She didn’t think that was true at all, but she was a good girl so she said she would do it.
Worked like a (lack of) charm. He stopped after 3 frowns. She was innocently amazed. I’ll spare you my dissertation on how women use sexual attractiveness to control men.
When Sixes are given information, they tend to look behind the information for what is missing. They believe firmly in full disclosure, whether speaking or listening.
So when you tell a Six something, he may probe for further information: more detail or context or evaluation of the information. (“What was he thinking when he said…).
So when style Six starts asking questions it may feel like you are being grilled and doubted. (What they probably intend is alleviation of their own anxiety.)
Fives legitimately pride themselves on their objectivity. But when they are objective about something you or I think should earn full-throated passion, Fives are seen to be uncaring. As one person put it, one tear from a Five is worth full blown hysteria from a Two.
Yesterday I saw video by a strikingly beautiful woman who is one step removed from being animated. If you link to this article, scroll down quite a ways to the video and see if you think she is a Five. Her eye movements seem to indicate she is reading a teleprompter, but she is most likely just reading from her memory. Fives frequently have astounding memories.
One reasons style 4s tend to be poets is that they have an ability to be highly articulate about inner states –feelings, impressions, connections, especially emotional.
So when they describe with some detail (often in order to process them) their inner states, others may see them as complaining.
If you would like to see this done on a cultural level, read some of the lamentation psalms of the Hebrew bible. Long recitations of how bad they feel are common. Scholars classify 2/3 of the Hebrew psalms as lamentations.
I’ve been writing about how each style is most often misunderstood, but today’s Steven Colbert clip really lays bare some great style Seven dynamics. The search for happiness, the denial of the role of suffering and even the anti-authoritarian
dimension at the end fits the pattern of style Seven well.
When style Threes are most apt to be misunderstood is when they talk about their achievements when they are trying to make friends or earn love or appreciation. Threes value their achievements rather highly so they assume others will, too.
Story: a style 3 woman was hosting a party and introduced her husband as “doctor Michael.” That was bad, but when she addressed him, she called him “Doctor.” My friend salaciously remarked up on hearing this “I wonder if she says “a little higher doctor” when they’re in bed.”
Because style Two excels at giving gifts, they are most likely to be misunderstood when gift-giving goes awry. When this is most likely to happen is when the gift is felt as an obligation to return a gift of some kind. “You shouldn’t have” may be emotionally correct, especially if the style Two person has an invisible strings. Anni Proulx writes in “The Shipping News” about a style Two who “proffered her gifts with invisible silver trumpets.”
The other time the gifts can turn to dust is if the gift is given without the real emotion behind it. It’s like giving a kid candy when she needs nourishment. If the gift is not symbolic of the self, it can easily be an emotional investment, demanding returns or an empty gesture — in which case the style Two person will become irritated when the gift is not appreciated or the expected reciprocity doesn’t materialize.
When our Enneagram style doesn’t work for us, we are often confused because in some way, it is our best effort. I’ll list a few of the ways we are misunderstood and/or misjudged when we employ our Enneagram strategies.
Style Ones live with an earnest desire to be better and to make everyone else better. The preferred strategy is to point out just how that should be done. It is called criticism.
So when Ones criticize us, they are doing what they do best; they’re trying to make us, and perhaps the world, better. They are often surprised that people don’t like to be criticized. Criticism is valuable: a means of discernment (what’s right or wrong, couth or uncouth, fair or mean). It should be valued.
But if the frequent baseline of simmering anger is apparent, the criticism are not well received. Ones may be periodically misunderstood.
AI has become a popular new acronym. Artificial intelligence is a hot topic.
I think the term is wrong. The intelligence is real, not fake. What it really is is bodiless intelligence. We use more and more computer analogies to describe our thinking.
That’s a mistake. Information removed from any bodily filters is one kind of information. When you and I learn, we receive any information or stimulus filtered through nerves and hormones and synapses and we’re not sure what all.
So when we have an Enneagram filter, it is a pathway of neural connections, modified by fatigue and chemistry and habits. So we never change our Enneagram filters, we always have that bias. And we always have to realize that bias and exploit or defend against it.
It is the human way of knowing. Talking about “objective” knowledge is reserved for information without bodies and pretending that selection is not modified by the kind of computer programming and framing and selection and related conceits.
Jon Stewart mocked Sean Hannity the other night for repeatedly using the word “literally.” Literal, for SH, means real and true and obvious. Sean’s reliance on the word literal to make him look “objective” is charmingly naive.
When everyone’s favorite Seven – Robin Williams – committed suicide many wondered how a man who could lift the spirits of a crowd for hours could not lift his own.
Because chemistry is far more powerful than will power or self-talk or even family and friends’ support. It is a force we don’t recognize because our feelings don’t feel “chemical.” Our dismal thoughts feel like something we’re doing, not something we are interpreting. We are animals and everything we do or say or think has a carnal component.
Here’s a helpful exercise. Whatever your Enneagram style is, what does it feel like when you’re really on a roll? Where in your body do you feel your style? What is your posture, your body expression, your energy level, your muscles or your organs?
How much of your Enneagram style’s expression do you think you could change by doing things differently with your body? For example, Mary Bast gave me a lovely coaching tip years ago and I’ve used it on dramatic Fours ever since: I have them dance their depression in front of a full length mirror! They accuse me of being a frivolous Seven, but it was Mary’s idea and she’s an intermittently sedate Nine. Thanks Mary!