When used in the business environment, the Enneagram is a tool to cultivate emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence may sound like a hot buzzword, but it actually has a very clear and specific definition. 

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the mastery of five distinct skills: self-awareness, self-regulation, internal motivation, empathy, and people skills. Beyond making you a better person, emotional intelligence is good for your career. In a 2011 study of over 2,600 hiring managers, 75% said they value emotional intelligence over raw intellect when seeking to fill positions.  

Your communication style is part of your emotional intelligence and recognizing the way you speak to others is part of effective teamwork. Below we outline the communication style of each Enneagram type and how you can communicate even more effectively.

Type 1: Perfectionist: With a habit of attention that goes to getting things right, you have a precise, direct, exacting way of speaking. Your mind is filled with tasks, so you tend to share task-related thoughts. You have a pragmatic, no-nonsense speaking style, and you are often heard saying “should, must, good, right, wrong, unacceptable.” 

Blind spots: You can appear critical without meaning to and may have an edge of impatience. It is important for you to be right, and you may seem unreasonably attached to your perspective. You sometimes react defensively if criticized.

How to improve your communication as a  Type 1:  Try to lead the conversation with a positive observation and close the conversation on a positive note. Because you notice what is wrong or needs improvement, you can come across as negative. Practice active listening and inquire about ideas or implementations that are different from how you might have done something. You grow when you realize there are multiple ways to do things, and you build trust when you genuinely try to understand others.

Type 2: Giver:  With a habit of attention that goes to the needs of other pe0ple, you have a warm, informal and engaging way of speaking that includes a lot of questions and compliments to others. You like making direct eye contact, and creating a personal connection with others is important. Your empathy is inspiring, and you make the office a more humane place.

Blind spots: You can become overly focused on the relationship aspects of communication and may de-emphasize the actual work that needs to get done. Resist the urge to get involved in people’s personal dramas. And while it is often subconscious, you want other people to like you and that can lead to indirect or fuzzy communication.

How to improve your communication as a Type 2: It’s fine to form a personal connection but don’t lose your objectivity. Stay focused on work topics. Practice disengagement to make the most of your work time and try not to be people-pleasing as this can lead to mixed messages.

Type 3: Achiever: With your habit of attention pointing to goals and accomplishments, you have a clear, efficient, quick, and direct communication style. You like to dive right into the agenda and speak directly to the point. You come across as polished, professional, and driven. Your go-getter style keeps the pace moving swiftly, and you like to focus on your wins. 

Blind spots: You can become impatient with lengthy conversations and can be so speedy in your communication, you come across as dismissive without meaning to. You are also extremely sensitive to issues of reputation and may react intensely if someone criticizes you. 

How to improve your communication as a Type 3: Slow down! It helps to take a few minutes at the beginning of a conversation to connect on a human level, and you’ll get more out of the meeting if you do. Try to manage your impatience with others using practical tools like long deep breathing if you notice you are losing patience.

Type 4: Individualist: With your habit of attention gravitating to what is missing and with your core value of authenticity, you have no problem discussing feelings and bringing up the thorny issues others may try to avoid. You can have a poetic speaking style, and you use self-reflection (including words like I, me, myself) in your communication. 

Blind spots: You can be inadvertently self-referencing, and you may come across as more intense and emotional than others can easily handle. Because you are sensitive to rejection, you may take things personally, even if they aren’t directed at you.

How to improve your communication as a Type 4: Lean into logic and rationally based information to balance your natural alignment with your emotions. Try to stay engaged in what you might feel are boring, mundane conversations and listen attentively. When you speak, try not to use the word “I.”

Type 5: Investigator: With your habit of attention focusing on scarcity and concerns about being overwhelmed by outside demands, it is no surprise that your communication style is sparse with limited sharing of personal or superfluous information. You say exactly what needs to be said and answer exactly what was asked. You come across as reserved and sometimes cold because you have a tendency to stick to the data and the facts.

Blind spot: You can seem overly robotic and distant, and your reserved nature is sometimes confused with aloofness or arrogance. Because you prefer logic to feelings, you can seem distant and hard to connect with.

How to improve your communication as a Type 5: Whether you are communicating verbally or in writing, try to add a bit more to your communication. Include feelings as well as data and information. Try to detach less and engage more.

Type 6: Skeptic: With a habit of attention that moves to what could go wrong or be a threat, your communication style focuses on what-if scenarios, concerns, and worries. You can be guarded and intense, offering analytical comments to build your arguments. You like to build consensus and can become hesitant and indecisive, especially if you don’t feel like your concerns are being taken seriously enough.

Blind spots: Your focus on the negative can come across as overly pessimistic, and you can lose support by not acknowledging more moderate possible outcomes. Your anxious thinking can lead to an overcommunication of problems and concerns.

How to improve your communication as a Type 6: Try to reduce the number of words inducing fear, anxiety, and worry when you communicate. When outlining a negative scenario, also present the positive scenario. Manage your anxiety, using tools like meditation, so you maintain the ability to make clear, rational decisions.

Type 7: Enthusiast: With a habit of attention that focuses on the positive, your communication style is upbeat, informal, engaging, and stimulating. You speak fast with an animated style, and engage in storytelling to connect with your audience. You tend to interrupt others as a way to offer support with a “layering” communication style.

Blind spots: You don’t always listen actively and can become easily distracted, thereby missing important facts or details. You can be self-referencing and don’t always understand how your layering communication style can be interpreted as rude or domineering.

How to improve your communication as a Type 7: Practice attentive listening and resist the urge to interrupt. Focus on others. Try to balance your positive outlook with moderate and even negative possibilities.

Type 8: Leader: With a habit of attention that moves to power and power dynamics, your communication style is direct, bold, expansive, and authoritative. You can be terse and to the point, and your straightforward communication can intimidate others, even though that isn’t your intention. You don’t shy away from conflict, and getting to the bottom of a matter is important to you.

Blind spots: Your intensity and easy access to anger can lead to a communication style that is viewed as combative and intimidating. You can be so brief and to the point that you alienate others.

How to improve your communication as a Type 8: Be more personal and less formal with others. Start communications with a friendly greeting. Listen more and restrain your urge to lead every conversation and meeting.

Type 9: Peacemaker: With a habit of attention that moves towards harmony and away from conflict, your communication style is easygoing, relaxed, inclusive, and accommodating. You strive to make everyone feel at ease, and you try to be fair and balanced. You offer lots of detail, and in your attempts to include all perspectives, you can sometimes be a little confusing to follow.

Blind spots: You can be indirect to the point of being evasive, and it can be difficult to know where you stand on issues. Indecision can be a theme as you try to understand the ripple effect of various choices across many different stakeholders.

How to improve your communication as a Type 9: Be more direct and take a clear stance on issues. If you disagree or don’t want to do something, say that directly to the relevant person. Practice healthy conflict as a way to achieve true harmony.

In summary

As you can see, communication styles differ a lot based on your habit of attention. What might make one person impatient is imperative for a good working relationship to someone else. It’s important to remember that there is no “better” or “worse” Enneagram type or communication style. Diversity is key and makes for the best teams.  


Lynn Roulo
Lynn Roulo is an Enneagram instructor and Kundalini Yoga teacher who teaches a unique combination of the two systems, combining the physical benefits of Kundalini Yoga with the psychological growth tools of the Enneagram. She has written two books combining the two systems. Headstart for Happiness, her first book is an introduction to the systems. The Nine Keys, her second book, focuses on the two systems in intimate relationships. Learn more about Lynn and her work here at LynnRoulo.com.