Oct 082013
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Are You Annoyed by Whiners but Protective of the Noble Weak?

This issue focuses on Enneagram personality Type 8, The Challenger. Challengers enjoy taking on challenges themselves as well as giving others opportunities that challenge them to exceed in some way. Eights have enormous willpower and vitality, and they feel most alive when exercising these capacities in the world.

Challengers are leaders. They are the bosses and the confrontational power-seekers. They are assertive, direct, self-reliant, self-confident, and protective. Eights are primarily motivated by the desire to establish self-reliance.

Eights are in the Body Center Triad, meaning they filter the world through an intelligence of kinesthetic and physical sensations along with gut instinct. Body-based types lead with the body movement, sense awareness, gut-level feelings, personal security, and social belonging. Their focus is on taking control of themselves and their environment, and taking action in practical ways.

Eights are quick to anger and even quicker to respond. They experience anger as energy that can overtake them unless it can be released immediately. Once the anger is expressed, they tend to move on.

Expect an Eight to challenge you, to test your integrity, strength, or conviction. Don’t try to dominate them and force decisions; this is their domain, and they will laugh your efforts away. Don’t back down and be weak, either. They are annoyed by anyone they feel is a whiner or wimp, but will protect the noble weak.

Famous Challengers include Johnny Cochran, Robert Shapiro, Martin Luther King, Jr., General Norman Schwarzkopf, Frank Sinatra, Donald trump, Barbara Walters, Russell Crowe, and Sean Connery.

How do we identify a Type 8? They exemplify the desire to be independent and to take care of themselves. They are assertive and passionate about life, meeting it head on with self-confidence and strength. They are resourceful and stand up for themselves. They are people of vision and action, taking the initiative and making things happen, protecting the people in their lives while empowering others to stand on their own.

Some proverbs that identify an Eight include:

Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. If you don’t like the heat, get out of the kitchen. Discretion is the better part of valor. Actions speak louder than words. No one tells me what to do.

Average Challengers are enterprising and industrious, dominating, confrontational, combative, and intimidating. They are people of vision and action. Honor is important to them because their word is their bond. Many times, they are full of bluster and bravado.

Unhealthy Challengers can be ruthless and cruel, extremely controlling, confrontational, and territorial. They sometimes throw their weight around in various ways, by swaggering, being willful, and bluffing.

Healthy Challengers are self-restrained, self-confident, and strong leaders. They are influential, having quick minds with visions for practical possibilities. They are often charismatic and able to attract the support of others to join in their vision. They are good at getting others to stretch their abilities and surpass their own expectations.

The Challenger’s communication style is confronting, commanding, unmasking, controlling, threatening, and direct.

When coaching a Challenger it’s important to remember that they are straightforward and do not like to be asked indirect questions, perceiving these as time wasting or manipulative. It is best to ask succinct, candid questions. Eights usually want to focus on the biggest picture possible, with details used as supportive information. They don’t like to waste time and are prone to taking immediate action.

If you know a Type 8, stand up for yourself. Be confident, strong, and direct. Acknowledge their contributions but don’t flatter them. If they speak to you in an assertive way, don’t automatically think it’s a personal attack. Understand that if they curse, scream, and stomp around, it’s just the way they are.

Suggestions and exercises for Challengers are about relationships.

  • Beware that when you are “direct” you may unintentionally intimidate others.
  • Resist dismissing or invalidating other’s experience or views.
  • Express your appreciation aloud and often.
  • Avoid driving others as hard as you drive yourself.
  • Learn to negotiate
  • Remember that sparring can be stimulating to an Eight but not to most other types.

Remember, none of the personality types is better or worse than any other. All types have unique assets and liabilities, strengths and weaknesses. While it is common to find a little of ourselves in each of the nine types, one of them typically stands out as being closest to ourselves. This is our basic personality type.

The Enneagram is a valuable tool coaches can use as a catalyst for change. In an organization or business, this can help in employee development, hiring decisions, or forming highly functional teams.

To identify your dominant personality type, visit www.enneagraminstitute.com and take the free assessment or the ten dollar enhanced assessment. Then contact me so we can discover how you can enhance your effectiveness. Coaching can be a valuable resource for developing yourself, your business, and your employees.

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