Your Enneagram Type and Mine – Book Review of “The Path Between Us”

“You can’t change how you see—you can only change what you do with how you see.”
– Suzanne Stabile, The Path Between Us

Know Yourself, Know Others

While relationships can bring us great pleasure, they also can bring us challenges. Especially when our differences seem greater than our similarities.

One way to bridge the gap is to learn more about ourselves. The Enneagram is a helpful personality tool not only for understanding ourselves better, but also as a roadmap for improving ourselves.

But the Enneagram also helps us understand other people better, too. While we can’t necessarily type another person in the Enneagram system, we often can know enough to recognize patterns.

Along with Ian Morgan Cron, Suzanne Stabile wrote a primer on the Enneagram, The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery. It’s an excellent introduction to learn your own number and how to grow within it.

But now she’s back with a new book of her own, The Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships. This one is unique among Enneagram books. As you can tell by the title, it’s not about gaining just self-knowledge; it’s more about interacting between Types.

And how to improve those interactions.

“First, please don’t use your Enneagram number as an excuse for your behavior. Second, don’t use what you’ve learned about the other numbers to make fun of, criticize, stereotype, or in any way disrespect them. Ever. Third, it would be great if you would spend your energy observing and working on yourself as opposed to observing and working on others.”

How Fives Interact

I am a type Five (I’m fairly sure anyway) on the Enneagram, the Observer. I learn from Suzanne that Fives are often misunderstood. As a result, I need to spend more time verbalizing my way of seeing and sharing my needs, to reduce misunderstandings.

“Fives want adequate resources so they never have to depend on someone else. They manage fear by gathering information and knowledge.

Fives have a limited, measured amount of energy for every day so they are careful what they offer to others and when. It is extremely brave of them to show up for relationships because it costs them more than any other number.”

But how do Fives interact with other numbers?

  • Ones can benefit from the objectivity of Fives.
  • Fives can learn more about social relationships from Twos.
  • Fives can help Threes remember that image isn’t everything.
  • Fives and Fours can be opposite in many ways but Fives with a Four wing (which I think I am) can easily connect to each other between head and heart.
  • Fives are most comfortable with other Fives.
  • Social anxiety in Fives can be exacerbated by a Six in unfamiliar territory, but a Five can be rational about a Six’s unwarranted fears.
  • Sevens offer Fives a lightheartedness that can keep them from taking themselves too seriously.
  • Eights learn from Fives the value of pulling back, observing, thinking, and then reconnecting.
  • Nines are a challenge when they don’t just go along with what Fives say or think. But that’s good for Fives.

Relationships Require Translation

One by one, Suzanne goes through each Type, assessing how they relate to each other Type and ways they can improve those relationships.

While none of this is exact science, it does give positive starting points for how to grow our relationships.

“All relationships—those that truly matter and even those that don’t—require translation. And if our interest in relational growth and transformation is sincere, then the Enneagram is one of the most helpful translation tools available.”

All Nine Types

Here are some specific suggestions from Suzanne about each Type and how we might best relate to them.

Ones, the Perfectionists – Things could always be better

“In a relationship with a One, honesty is essential, but telling them that they are good in ways that they can hear it is the greater gift. Do it as often as you can in all the ways you can. Ones appreciate equity—they work hard and they expect the same from you.”

Twos, the Helpers – Your feelings or mine?

“In an intimate relationship, Twos need to hear you say ‘I’m here and I’m not going anywhere. There’s nothing you need to do, there’s nothing you need to be, and there’s nothing you need to help me with. I love you for you.’ Don’t trust their answer when they say they’re fine or good. Press a little deeper.”

Threes, the Performers – Being everyone but myself

“Since their orientation to time is to the future, Threes are often distracted during conversations. Don’t take the distraction personally. They won’t be interested in rehashing things from the past. Know that Threes want your approval and praise, and they really like it when you verbalize it.”

Fours, the Romantics – Go away but don’t leave

Fours long for what they don’t have and they are comfortable with longing. It’s not something for you to fix. Don’t tell Fours to ‘cheer up.’ They are usually neither sad nor depressed. Fours are comfortable with melancholy.”

Fives, the Observers – Fences have gates

“Be forthright and direct with Fives, but don’t use too many words. If you have a problem with a Five, agree on a time to discuss it. Give the Five time to think about your concern and then limit the length of the conversation.”

Sixes, the Loyalists – Question everything

“Worst-case scenario planning is comforting to Sixes, so take them seriously when they talk to you about the possibility of what could go wrong. Telling them they don’t need to worry and that everything is going to be fine they will feel patronizing, disrespectful, and dismissive. Sixes like friends who are emotionally mature, honest, and not too needy.”

Sevens, the Enthusiasts – It’s all good

“Don’t try to get Sevens to commit to specific routines and schedules. They need spontaneity and flexilibity. If you want to share your feelings with a Seven, by all means do that. But do not process your feelings with a Seven. You will need to do that with someone else. Be attentive to their stories. The telling of their stories is often the way they express and share their feelings.”

Eights, the Challengers – Vulnerability is not weakness

“Don’t beat around the bush with Eights: they want communication to be brief, straightforward, and truthful. Be aware that Eights are controlling in relationships simply because they don’t want to be controlled. Even though Eights are strong and assertive, don’t forget that they still need care.”

Nines, the Peacemakers – Risking conflict for connection

“Don’t interrupt Nines when they are talking. Make room for them to meander a bit—they will get to the point.  Nines don’t like confrontation, but that doesn’t mean you should never confront them. Encourage Nines to share their grievances with you.”

While this book isn’t necessarily a Christian book, it is definitely a spiritual book, and one that you can apply to your Christian faith. Suzanne Stabile is cofounder (with her husband, Rev. Joseph Stabile) of Life in the Trinity Ministry, a nondenominational ministry for spiritual growth and formation.

* * *

My thanks to NetGalley
for the review copy of this book

Do you recognize yourself in a Type? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Read more on the Enneagram

33 thoughts on “Your Enneagram Type and Mine – Book Review of “The Path Between Us”

  1. Lesley

    This sounds really interesting, Lisa! Learning to improve our interactions with others is so important, especially when people respond in such different ways. I read a book about the Enneagram last year and I can’t work out whether I’m a Five or Six! I think I need to look into it a bit more and try to figure it out!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Sounds like we are a lot alike, Lesley! I’m pretty sure I’m a Five, but I also have a lot of Six in me (and Four). Who knows? Ha. I just know that I need to continually work on improving relationships, regardless of my number. 🙂

  2. KellyRBaker

    I really don’t know which I am, maybe 5 but see myself in a few others too. This whole thing is interesting yet the more I try to learn it the more I’m puzzled by it. Maybe getting the book will help. 😉

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      It can be complicated, Kelly. And the quizzes haven’t been super helpful for me either. I’ve heard the best way is just to read about each type and see which one resonates most with you. And from what I hear (and experienced), we often go Ugh! when we hit on the right one. ha.

  3. Betty Draper

    This sounds like a book I need to read since people is our ministry. I seen several in the list, one in particular that I am working with right now, a number 6, this was helpful. I am number 8 which is why I want someone who talks to me to get to the point right away. Listening well with patience has been my prayer for myself for years. With His help it’s possible. I think I am going to get this book, it would be useful. Thanks

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      “…since people is our ministry.” I love how you phrase that! We would all be wise to put it that way. From what I hear, it can be challenging being a woman who is an 8, but we need your type to get things done! 🙂 God bless you, Betty.

  4. bluecottonmemory

    Books like these have the ability to be so liberating – allowing me to understand that I don’t have to be like everyone else – and understanding why I am the way I am. As a result, I’ve become less defensive, less uncomfortable with/about differences, especially in how each person communicates!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      “Liberating” is a great adjective to describe these, Maryleigh. We too often can become locked in a box of our own making, but God never intended our personalities to trap us, but rather to give us a vehicle for becoming more of who we are. Thanks for sharing this beautiful perspective!

  5. BettieG

    Dear Lisa,
    This sounds so helpful! My good friends are both in their second year of training to be certified Spiritual Directors, and have shared with me much that they are learning on this very topic. It is so amazing the beautiful ways that God has uniquely designed each of us!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      How fascinating that you have two friends going through that certification! I’d definitely be wanting to tap into their knowledge and wisdom all the time. 🙂 Yes, God is infinitely smart to design each of us alike in some ways, but so different in many others.

  6. Patti Gardner

    I don’t know much about the enneagram types, but I am for sure a quintessential ISFJ in Meyers Briggs. Beyond understanding myself better, knowing others’ personality types has helped invaluably in relating to them. And I’ve been able to share with them so they understand me better. For instance, after too many weeks of being too social, I really burned out and, thus, began scaling back. Certain friends felt like I was backing away from THEM, so I shared that although I am friendly and somewhat social, I AM an introvert and, thus need time alone. Knowing that helped them not to take my backing away personally.

    My best guess is on the enneagram, I am a 4 or a 9. It would be fun to find out for sure.

    Have a great day,

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Your example is so spot-on for why this kind of information is helpful in relationships. I am an ISFJ also! And definitely an introvert. When I’m around people too much, I really need time totally alone to refresh, which is hard to explain to an extrovert. But it definitely helps if they can at least understand that it’s nothing personal about them, but just the way we’re wired. Thanks for sharing this, Patti!

  7. Michele Morin

    I think I’ve decided not to read this book . . . I may change my mind later.
    In the meantime, I’m listening to Suzanne’s related podcast, and feeling less certain about my 3-ness. I wonder if I have a strong wing that’s throwing me off . . .?
    Anyway, this take on the Enneagram is fascinating.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      There are lots of Enneagram books to choose from in the past couple of years. Such an explosion. There’s still one out there that I want to read: The Complete Enneagram by Beatrice Chestnut. Sometimes it is difficult to settle on a number. For awhile I was certain I was a One, but those strong winds blew me into a Five. 🙂 Yes, it is fascinating stuff.

  8. Joanne Viola

    I will confess – I have been quite hesitant on the Enneagram. While it sounds interesting, something holds me back from reading more about it. I do think we need to know about ourselves and others so relationships are stronger and more meaningful. Who knows? I may read this one yet 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I hesitated about the Enneagram for awhile too. The graphic for it looked a little creepy for one thing. ha. But once I dug in, I found it quite fascinating. I don’t believe all of it hook, line, and sinker, but there seems to be enough validity to it to make it worthwhile to me. If your curiosity does get the better of you one day, I hope you enjoy it too. 🙂

  9. floyd samons

    I always find this kind of informations fascinating. And anything Ian was a part of, or still may be, I’m all in for.

    I have to admit, like the first book they did together, I can hear Bill Haley and the Comets singing, “One, two, three o’clock, four a clock – rock. Five, six, seven o’clock eight o’clock – rock. Nine, ten, eleven o’clock, twelve o’clock rock. We’re gonna Rock Around the Clock Tonight”…

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Ian is amazing, yes? I listen to his Typology podcast and always enjoy his take on things. I’m sure he would appreciate that you associate a song with him. 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Me, too, Sarah! Sometimes it feels weird reading things that hit so close to home with my own personality, but it does help me see myself clearer (for better and for worse), so it makes it worthwhile.

  10. Jean Wise

    What a cool summary. You and I both love the enneagram ( I am a three) will check out this book. I remember when you attending that conference. I have been to several workshops but you got me curious to go to another again. Will have to watch for one. have a blessed weekend.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I heard that Ian Morgan Cron is having a workshop at his home with 40 people, max. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful event to attend? But not for me in this season. Hope you’re having a blessed weekend yourself, Jean.

  11. Gayl

    Lisa, I thing the enneagram is fascinating, but the more I look into it the more I’m confused about which type I am. I see part of me in several of them. I know we are supposed to see which is most like us, but it’s really hard. Maybe I’ll try again sometime and see where it takes me. Thanks for sharing about this book with us at the #LMMLinkup! Blessings to you!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I hear you, Gayl. 🙂 I thought I was a One for a long while, but now I think I’m a Five. What helped me was hearing others talk about being their numbers, and I could see who I most related to. I listen to Ian Morgan Cron’s podcast Typology and it’s been interesting and helpful (even if I wasn’t into the Enneagram!).

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I appreciate your concern, Charlotte. Like the other personality systems, this one is just another way to look at ourselves and others as we grow in faith, not as a replacement for scriptural truths. If it’s not helpful to you as you grow in God, I would set it aside.

  12. Jeff Kopp

    Wow , I scored highest as a 1, 2nd as an 8, and 3rd as a 2.
    I thought from reading the book “The road back to you” that I was a strong 2
    2nd an 8, 3rd a 1.
    No wonder I struggle in my marriage of 30 years with my wife a 7.
    Actually what I loved most about my wife when I met her was the 7 characteristics.
    What I dislike in her now is her lack of being content and she does not like to cuddle. Just saying!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m married to a 7 as well (or at least that’s what I think; I know we’re not supposed to type other people, ha). With me being a 5, I need his spontaneity to balance out my rigid scheduling tendencies. 🙂 But you’re right that often what attracts us in the beginning is sometimes what annoys us later. There’s probably an enneagram thought about that as well. ha.

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