Sometimes work feels harder than it needs to be. It’s easy to overlook little annoyances at first. But over time they pile up, becoming a problem that is much harder to ignore. Sometimes, our irritation makes it hard to remain calm and focused at work. That’s when we need to make a call: either learn to let them go or acknowledge the organization’s culture may not be the right fit for us.

And letting go of our core beliefs about how the world should be can be hard! 

Different things annoy each of us. Things that drive you to distraction your colleagues won’t think twice about. This can definitely lead to more than a few frustrated conversations around the office. 

Thankfully, our Enneagram type can give us some clues about what bothers us versus what bothers our colleagues. These insights can help you navigate differences of opinion, and also help you decide whether to change your team’s approach to work or walk away from this company. It will also increase your compassion for yourself and others in the workplace, hopefully reducing your frustration in return. 

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Enneagram Ones

At work, Enneagram Ones are frustrated by colleagues who don’t share their high standards – whether that's their ethical or moral stance on a subject, or producing work to a quality they expect. Ones often end up doing others' work, partly because they don’t trust others to do it the right way, and partly because they spend time correcting others' errors. 

At work, things that frustrate Ones include people:

  • Not apologizing for being late to meetings
  • Not following the rules
  • Not correcting mistakes 
  • Leaving a mess for others to clean up
  • Not taking responsibility for their screw ups

Enneagram Twos

At work, Enneagram Twos are frustrated by inconsiderate colleagues – particularly when people dismiss others' feelings or when organizational cultures don't value people, loyalty and team unity. They can struggle to work with managers or organizations that are disrespectful to people and don’t provide much positive affirmation.  

At work, things that frustrate Twos include people:

  • Who put themselves first
  • Who don't consider their impact on others
  • Who don't provide positive feedback and appreciation 
  • Who don't include them in social gatherings they want to be included in
  • Who treat others poorly

Enneagram Threes

At work, Enneagram Threes are frustrated by a lack of pace. They like people and projects to move quickly. That includes repetitive discussions, asking too many questions or stopping to research an issue. Threes also struggle when goals aren't clear or they lack the autonomy to be successful. 

At work, things that frustrate Threes include:

  • Meetings that are poorly run or drag on
  • Someone taking credit for their work
  • People who deliver substandard work or miss deadlines
  • Having to repeatedly explain things 
  • A lack of recognition for their hard work and a successful outcome

Enneagram Fours

At work, Enneagram Fours are frustrated by colleagues who aren't very good at listening or who don’t take the time to fully understand their vision. They struggle when managers ignore underlying tensions in the team, and won’t allow them to raise issues that would help clear the air. 

At work, things that frustrate Fours include, people:

  • Not taking the time to get to know them
  • Not giving appreciation for their work
  • Insisting they know or understand their feelings, but really don’t
  • Creating a negative atmosphere 
  • Who don't care about aesthetics 

Enneagram Fives

At work, Enneagram Fives are frustrated by projects that require too much collaboration, especially if those people overdo personal drama. They also struggle with projects that don't allow enough time to analyze all the data. 

At work, things that frustrate Fives include people:

  • Interrupting them while they are focusing on a task
  • Changing things at the last minute 
  • Not honoring agreed time limits 
  • Dismissing their expertise 
  • Not providing sufficient clarity around their role or the goal 

Enneagram Sixes

At work, Enneagram Sixes are frustrated by people or processes that are unnecessarily risky, or that don’t follow appropriate safety procedures. They struggle when others aren't interested in checking the details for potential threats or taking the time to build suitable contingency plans. 

At work, things that frustrate Sixes include people:

  • Dismissing their fears and concerns
  • Abusing their power in some way 
  • Wanting them to make a decision before completing their risk assessment 
  • Rushing due diligence 
  • Not allowing them to play devil’s advocate to test the plan

Enneagram Sevens

At work, Enneagram Sevens are frustrated by managers or processes that are too constrained, making it difficult to quickly solve a problem and move on. They struggle with colleagues that want to spend a lot of time discussing what’s not working or being required to follow someone else’s plan. 

At work, things that frustrate Sevens include:

  • Projects being slowed down by paperwork or bureaucracy 
  • Not being able to brainstorm or their ideas being dismissed too soon
  • Being micromanaged or told how to do their work 
  • Too much negativity or criticism
  • An unpleasant atmosphere 

Enneagram Eights

At work, Enneagram Eights are frustrated by inaction, like too detailed or irrelevant information, or wanting the team to talk things through and reach consensus before taking action. They struggle to work with people they see as incompetent, weak or timid. 

At work, things that frustrate Eights include, people:

  • Trying to control them
  • Taking too long to make a decision
  • Who are indirect, hedging or avoiding bad news
  • Talking about them behind their back
  • Who complain but don’t try to fix the problem

Enneagram Nines

At work, Enneagram Nines get frustrated when they feel they are being set up to fail. That can happen when the parameters for a project aren't clear, when people aren't aligned, and when their opinion is overlooked. Nines can also worry about standing out, whether that’s for doing a good job or a bad one.  

At work, things that frustrate Nines include:

  • Conflict that could have been avoided
  • Not being informed of important decisions
  • People assuming they will go with the flow
  • Making it hard for them to say no
  • Not having a clear connection between the task and bigger goal

What’s next?

Knowing what frustrates us at work gives us the power to do something about it.  

We can change either our response to it or how the environment operates. But the more awareness we have, the greater our ability to manage our reactions, which increases our effectiveness at work and helps us choose careers and companies that align with our values and beliefs. 

Get started by making a list of everything that annoys you at work next week. Use the above lists for inspiration. Make a note of how you react to each annoyance, and how small or large your reaction is. Then consider what kind of change is possible. Can you change the process, situation or environment? Or do you need to focus on changing your reaction? Whatever you discover, your insights will be invaluable for the rest of your career. 

Samantha Mackay

Samantha Mackay is a certified Enneagram and leadership development coach who believes work should be energizing, not draining. She combines the Enneagram with her experience of recovering from burnout twice to help leaders and teams thrive during stressful times. Connect with Samantha at