Who is an avoider? Not us, right? We dive in, take the plunge and climb that mountain, except when we don’t. 

Each Enneagram type has something that makes them want to find the escape hatch. These triggers range from something that’s simply irritating to actions that provoke real distress. For example, most of us do not want to feel left out. But for Type 2s, being excluded cuts deeply. No one wants to lose a competition. But Type 3s may feel this loss at a core identity level.

With that in mind, here are the not-so-obvious things we avoid, according to our Enneagram type. Do these feel familiar to yourself or your loved ones?

Type 1: “Wasting” Time

Few types are as focused on being efficient as Type 1s. Their efficiency makes them time-sensitive, recognizing that time is a resource to be measured and used well. Looking to hang out for unlimited hours? Probably not the best idea for structured Type 1s unless you have discussed it in advance.

While some types are open to meandering conversations, Type 1s may become impatient with this when other responsibilities need their attention. Their focus is on getting the task done and doing it well.

What to do: It may be helpful for you, Type 1, to take a deep breath and accept that some interruptions are productive and necessary. While rambling may be frustrating, especially when the conversation strays too far from the topic, unscheduled conversations can be a gift. They allow spontaneous dialogue to develop that can enhance the relationship.

Type 2: Being Excluded

Nothing hurts for an Enneagram Type 2 like not being invited. Whether it’s a friendship, relationship, or a simple get-together, Type 2s thrive on connection with other people. As both initiators and participants, they feel grounded when their bonds with others are stable and reciprocated.

Type 2s feel pain when they are left out. They wonder what caused their pal to overlook them, and they respond by reaching out even more. Type 2s will do whatever they can to mend the breach with those they care about.

What to do: Before diving in to build every bridge, think further about what transpired. Were you excluded or did your friend simply want to spend time with others close to them? Was there any ill intent? A heartfelt conversation may be all that is necessary to restore your sense of connectedness before it causes you stress. 

Type 3: Losing the Competition

Nearly every Type 3 is in it to win it, but some will have already prepared their acceptance speech. Their dedication and hard work typically pays off with rewards. These may be in the form of bonuses, words of praise, promotions or actual awards, but few Type 3s are happy with receiving an “Honorable Mention.”

When they expect to land in first place, Type 3s can feel crushed if they don’t. They may take it as a personal failure.

What to do: To cushion the loss, remind yourself of your many other achievements, for example your ability to hustle and your tenacity in seeing the project through. Also, it may be healthy for you to recognize and learn from the merits of the winning entry as you focus on their next goal.

Type 4: Forced Participation

Type Fours are not pretenders. With authenticity as a driving value, they seldom go along just for optics. The office get-together that screams internal politics (rather than connection)? Wince. The family outing where dad insists we “have fun”? Cue an eye roll. In the words of one Type Four: “My BS meter is really high.”

Honesty is always the best policy with Type 4s. If a hidden agenda is involved, they are not likely to be comfortable participating—no matter how much they care about the organizer.

What to do: Instead of being suspicious about the motives, ask questions to find out what’s going on. Perhaps several staff members could use a boost with a lunch outing. Maybe the family needs to create some positive memories. Understand the reason behind the request and assume it is genuine. This may shift your perspective and make all the difference.

Type 5: Unending Meetings

Who do you go to for rigorous research and insightful analysis? Type 5s! Their knowledge helps set colleagues up for success. Whether it’s an IT migration or a study release, Type 5s engage their natural curiosity to take the project forward. They can be significant contributors to the team.

Yet all those team meetings start to wear on them, especially when they run long. Type 5s want to escape and spend time alone to mull over the next step. While they love to talk about their specialty areas, too much babbling takes away from their thinking time. They only have so many resources, and they need to conserve them.

What to do: When you start to withdraw, Type 5, check in with the leader of the meeting. Perhaps reconvening later or even handling a few details through emails is a possibility. Explain that you potentially have much more to offer but you need to step away for a while and think things through. Just remember to follow through later with more brilliant solutions!

Type 6: Unwelcome Change

Steady and loyal, Type 6s prefer consistency and security. While some may embrace change within a system, they may be cautious. Change can introduce new variables that disrupt what they have come to expect and rely on. Unwelcome change certainly does.

New circumstances mean Type 6s must size up the landscape once again. Internally, they may ponder: How do I navigate this new turn of events? What does this mean for me, my loved ones, my home life, and career? How do I gain a sense of stability and groundedness again? What may happen next? This “bumping of their cup” throws Type 6s into a place of uncertainty and possibly self-doubt. 

What to do: To regain your equilibrium, Type 6, pause and recognize you need more time to absorb the change. You can also ask for support to find stability within the new arrangement that helps you recover your balance.  

Type 7: Therapy Intensives

Notice the look of alarm on the face of a Type 7 when you suggest attending an in-depth therapy experience! Spending hours or days delving into the origins of woundedness? That sounds like lethal punishment to them. Why would they willingly agree to such a thing? Isn’t there a block party going on instead?

Though few types like to linger in pain, Type 7s will respond with jokes, alternate ideas, cheerful diversions, anything to deflect from the unpleasantness of unexplored emotions. 

What to do: Healing is life-giving, Type 7, so try to remember that processing life’s bruises offers you the freedom you hope to have. Exploring the options may also be worthwhile. Would you embrace a program that includes role play and group activities, for example?  

Type 8: Waiting in Line

Are you standing in a long line? The person trying to find the supervisor so they can sail right past others is likely a Type 8. It is part of their big personality to take charge and get things moving. 

If this is not effective, they may exit quickly. Type 8s make decisions swiftly, especially when their time investment is not worth it. They size up the situation and take action. As one Type 8 summarized: “You move up, move over, or move out.”

What to do: This “move fast” way of being can cause friction with others. No one in line wants to wait, so instead of solving the problem for just you, see if you can root out the issue and speed up the process for everyone. Use your assertiveness to benefit others, not just yourself. This shift will garner appreciation and maybe applause.

Type 9: Chaotic Schedules

Too much on the calendar? When the schedule piles up with multiple priorities and conflicting responsibilities, Type 9s can become especially stressed. These keepers of calm and harmony may feel disrupted by the chaos.

For anyone who is planning a get-together with a Type 9, consider that they may not be able to respond immediately. Type 9s need time to think about the commitments they make. They want to honor them, yet prefer to optimize balance in their schedule.  

What to do: As a Type 9, you can respond to an unpredictable flow of requests by asking for more flexibility. Let people know that you need breathing room between activities. Tell them you will arrange to be available but you also have to sustain a manageable pace for yourself. Then, prioritize what matters most and make that a priority. Your loved ones will understand. 

Beth Dumey
Beth Dumey’s articles have appeared in Psych Central (Healthline Media), Writer’s Digest magazine, On The Couch, Med Device Online, and many more. With a MA in Communications, a MA in Counseling Psychology, and a BA in Journalism, she combines her interest in healthcare and psychology as a communicator, storyteller and coach. She holds certification as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and as a Certified Advanced Teacher in the Enneagram Spectrum Method. For more, go to BethDumey.com