I'm listening to a call between a big-name consultant (A) and an accomplished, but lesser-known consultant (B). Their conversation was recorded late last year so that those of us learning the consulting space can get a feel for how everything works on the inside of an organization when we're first hired. Listening to consultant B describe an ever-widening job that started off with coaching and mediating and over the course of 8 months, grew into teaching and playing a bigger consulting role than was initially conceived, I was reminded again how useful it is to know people's Enneagram types. How else can we, the listeners, get a beat on the interpersonal dynamics between all the players without having a succinct vocabulary to describe how each person would approach a tangled, messy situation?
For example, when someone on the call asked how trust was established about payment upfront (because the consultant started working before writing up the contract), all he had to say was that the principal was "an Eight" (an Enneagram type Eight), and we all knew right away that this guy was responsible (it was unspoken that he was a healthy Eight, but that was picked up on clues earlier in the conversation), probably not a small player (they're typically visionary, aggressive type A's), was protective (and therefore wouldn't leave him hanging), and they usually know about the financial health of every single project under their care; therefore he could be trusted to know where the money was coming from, and consultant B could start the project generally trusting this guy. Of course, there was the fact that the type 8 principal was also known by consultant A as well, but aside from that, we gained a ton of information as listeners, just from knowing a person's type. It took a second and a half to establish.
The Enneagram is like surgery in my mind. A client can describe their thoughts, emotions and behavior to a coach until they're blue in the face, just like a patient would try to describe their various aches and pains they've had over the years to their doctor, but until the doctor cuts the patient open and looks, it's just all poking and palpating. When you've got someone who knows the Enneagram, and who can type a person, right away they know what the person will struggle with, what they're gifted at, and even what's the best mannerism to adopt while working with them. It's a powerfully effective tool that gets to the core issues immediately. Why waste time, right?