Apr 092013

Are You Meddling or Just Trying to be Helpful?

This is the second in a series of articles based on the nine personalities of the Enneagram. We use the Enneagram Personality Assessment in our Ascending Leader’s Program(TM) to gain knowledge about our behaviors and those of our team members. Self-knowledge helps us understand why we do things the way we do. It also helps us understand why others do things the way they do.

In this issue, I will discuss personality Type 2, The Helper. The Helper is the Caring, Interpersonal Type: Demonstrative, Generous, People-Pleasing, and Possessive. Helpers are primarily motivated by the desire to meet the needs of others. They take pride in being needed by the team, and in helping make others successful. They are the most people-oriented of the Enneagram types, focusing on relationships and feeling best about themselves when they are meaningfully engaging with others.

Of the three Centers of Intelligence (heart, head, and body), Helpers are in the Emotional Center. This is the home of feeling based types that emphasize the heart for positive and negative feelings, empathy, and concern for others.

Famous Helpers include Gloria Estefan, Bill Cosby, and Sally Field. They rarely ask for assistance directly but appreciate when help is spontaneously offered. At the same time, they are not usually aware of the degree to which they give to others in order to gain appreciation, approval, and a feeling of being valued in return.

How can we recognize a Type 2? They focus more on the feelings and needs of others than on themselves. They become sad when feeling unappreciated, unwanted, or unvalued. They focus on relationships, want to share the good in their lives, and enjoy supporting others with attention and care.

The average Helper can begin to fear that whatever they have been doing is not enough. They try to win people over and cultivate friendships by pleasing, flattering, and supporting them. Essentially, they are people pleasing. Many times they will say things like, “Let me do that for you,” “Come get a hug,” or “I won’t take no for an answer.”

An unhealthy Type 2 can be self-deceptive, with the tendency to become overly involved in the lives of others. They tend to manipulate others to get their own emotional needs met. Helpers find it hard to say no. They tend to feel drained and burned out because they overdo for others. In the workplace, they can be surprisingly angry and aggressive, acting as if they have no needs.

The Type 2 communicates by complimenting, being nice, sympathetic, giving advice, and sometimes being militant for a cause. They excel in roles that involve helping people, such as counselors, teachers, and health workers. They can also be found as actresses, actors, and motivational speakers. They work in areas that help others, such as receptionists, secretaries, assistants, and clothing consultants.

Coaching a Helper may focus on their strengths, which are being empathic, supportive, motivating, and warm. For development purposes, coaches assist Helpers with understanding how they accommodate others, their indirectness, feeling unappreciated, and tendency to overextend themselves.

If you are a Type 2, or know one, know that they like to be appreciated. Be specific and take an interest in their problems, though they will probably try to focus on yours. Let them know that they are important and special to you, and be gentle if you decide to criticize them.

Suggestions and exercises for Helpers are about building self-esteem.

  • Engage in activities that give pleasure and satisfaction but do not involve being with others.
  • Reparent your inner child by talking to yourself in nurturing and loving ways, as you would a child, but stay in parent stance.
  • Give yourself some of the attention and pampering you usually give others.
  • Value the love that is in your life instead of focusing on what is missing.

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 with individual clients and teams, helping them understand why they behave the way they do. 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 enneagraminstitute.com and take the free assessment, or take the enhanced assessment for ten dollars. If you are a Helper, do you intuitively know what someone else needs, but have a hard time articulating your own needs, even to yourself?

Contact me so we can discover how you can become more effective in your work and personal life. Coaching can be a valuable resource for developing yourself, your business, and your employees.


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