Why bother with having an understanding of personality types?
On a basic level, when we are aware of ourselves, and this includes our personality, we get to choose our responses rather than get stuck in our habitual reactions. Ginger Lapid-Bogna, pioneer in using the Enneagram personality typology in organisations, says that understanding of the Enneagram helps us to understand, accept, and manage ourselves, but more than this – it also enhances our capacity to work effectively with a wide variety of other people.
What is key is to understand not just our own type, but our own type in relation to other types. It’s as if our personality is like a pair of coloured glasses we are wearing but we have no idea we are wearing them. Becoming aware of the type we orientate from is like scratching the glass: Suddenly we are aware that we are viewing the world from a particular perspective. Being exposed to other personality types is to become aware of a whole host of different ways of viewing the world. Understanding the different typologies helps with relationships since a huge source of conflict is people operating out of different typological orientations. Recognising that someone is of another type can help to depersonalise the way they respond to us, help us to understand their behaviour, and ease the pressure in a relationship.
On a deeper level, understanding our type can lead us to a fuller expression of ourselves and guide us toward accessing those parts of ourselves we have downplayed or denied in some way. Writes Jungian analyst James Hollis: “Part of the inner distress originates from the fact that we, and our society, have colluded in neglecting the whole person. We have coasted on what was easy for us; we were rewarded for productivity not wholeness. In our dreams we live out the other side of the personality, for the inferior function is the trapdoor to the unconscious.”