Our View: How the Enneagram helps us dialogue well - The Echo News
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Our View: How the Enneagram helps us dialogue well

By Editorial Board | Echo

Last weekend, an Enneagram expert came to campus. How can the Enneagram help us understand each other better? (Photograph provided by Unsplash)

Last weekend, an Enneagram expert came to campus. How can the Enneagram help us understand each other better? (Photograph provided by Unsplash)

Taylor’s Counseling Center sponsored “Know Your Number,” an Enneagram conference led by enneagram instructor David Stamile of Longways Ministries. The purpose of the conference was to encourage attendees in their pursuit of self-awareness, growth, calling and identities in Christ via the nine basic Enneagram personality types. The conference was held on March 2–3.

The Echo Editorial Board discussed their views regarding the Enneagram and came to a consensus: the Enneagram is a helpful tool, in moderation. By giving words to emotions and aspects of oneself that can be difficult to express, the Enneagram provides both a reality check and a path to growth. However, when used to “diagnose” or stereotype others, the Enneagram is misused and can create hurt and misunderstanding.

Caroline Poland, director of the counseling center, encourages students to use the Enneagram as a tool rather than a means to type others.

“So often I hear people that have typed other people and told them all sorts of things about them, and this is not an appropriate use of the Enneagram, nor is that fair to the individual,” Poland said. “We can see behavior, but we can’t know the core motivations of wounds of another person. It does a disservice to engage in a process of telling someone what they are; the Enneagram is a personal self-discovery and discernment process.”

Poland remarked that one’s wounds provide a lens through which one sees the world, relates to God and relates to others. She noted the Enneagram provides a path forward for understanding the lens and fostering growth within oneself in a particular area.

We, as The Echo Editorial Board, see this understanding as the benefit and right use of the Enneagram. Used as a means to identify one’s wounds and understand paths to growth, the Enneagram is an excellent tool for reconciliation. Some members of our staff have even used it informally to strengthen our team dynamics.

Jesse Brown, dean of students and Title IX coordinator, remarked in a previous article, “Ennea-what?” that, as an institution of higher education, Taylor places value on reflection and self-awareness. In this way, the Enneagram helps individuals understand themselves better in health and stress. This awareness leads to better self-care, self-compassion and understanding for one another.

“In my own life as a six, I am more aware of how anxiety or fear informs my decisions,” Brown said. “The Enneagram also highlights my propensity for loyalty in friendships.”

Because the Enneagram is a tool for self-discovery, it also contains a time commitment. Self-discovery is not found on an online personality inventory. It comes with realization and ownership for one’s own faults and an awareness of how change can occur.

We see the value of the Enneagram, but challenge those interested in learning more (or current Enneagram fans) to consider learning about their own number before critiquing the numbers and “deadly sins” of others.

Matthew 7:35 states, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

We challenge for the call of Matthew 7 to be brought into the use of the Enneagram. Let us pursue self-awareness, but our own, not that of others. The Enneagram is not the Bible, but it does provide understanding for growth areas.

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