Yesterday I noticed something on the Enneagram Institute website about the three instinctual variants- Social, Sexual, and Self-Preservation- that I hadn't seen before. In their description of the Sexual subtype, they said,
Much has been said about this type preferring “one-on-one” relationships versus the Social type’s preference for “larger groups,” but a quick poll of one’s acquaintances will reveal that almost all people prefer communicating one on one than in a group.
I've always thought that socials preferred group interaction over one-on-one interaction, so I'm in revision mode now.
I've written about this before, and I still think a good way to describe the three energies is with temperature- socials have the coolest temperature in terms of their style ofinteraction, even though their personality itself might be a warm or hot one. Sexuals, in their desire for intensity have a "hot" style of relating, and Self-preservations have a warm style.
Or the other way to say it is in terms of concentration of energy: Sexuals have an intense contact, Socials have a diffuse contact, and Self-Preservations are in the middle somewhere.
A few weeks ago I found a website dedicated solely to people who had trouble discerning if their romantic partner was in the mood to get it on. The advice was in the vein of, "touch her gently on the shoulder and see how she responds- if she ignores you, she's not interested. If she turns her head and smiles, she might be interested." I'm simplifiying, but it was something like that. I was like, "Who in their right mind would spend time on this site, let alone need its advice?" At first I thought it was for teenagers who are learning about sexuality, but then it dawned on me that this was for Socials who maybe had a Sexual blind spot and needed to pick up on Sexual literacy. It's interesting- there are people who have trouble picking up on Sexual cues (If you have a Sexual blind spot) just as there are those who have trouble picking up on Social cues (if you have a social blind spot). And then of course there's the SP blind spot, and I don't know which is worse. The instinctual variants are so fascinating.
The people with whom I work, teachers, tend toward being more Social just because you have to be able to navigate socially to survive as a teacher, although we do have a couple outstanding Sexual teachers who know how to monitor their energy really well (NOTE! This doesn't mean sexual in the sense of being sexualized- like don't read this in a lewd way- I'm using this as a technical term in the context of the Enneagram. You can read about the three variants here.) You can have workplaces that are more Social or more Sexual, and that style of relating becomes the "culture".
It bothers me when CEO's talk about culture and lament "a bad hire" that doesn't fit in, because what I believe they're trying to say but don't have the vocabulary for is that they were trying to establish a social culture and mistakenly hired a sexual who isn't going along with the social flow (or the other way around). Obviously people with a Social blind spot aren't going to pop into the staff room as often when there's a bunch of people in there and jump into the conversation as readily or as easily as a Social, and they might have trouble knowing what to do with their hands or where to look or how to stand when they enter a room full of people, but they're still smart, and they have a whole other literacy that the rest of that "culture" maybe is short of.
Although being a Sexual in a Social culture is like a camera that adds ten pounds. As soon as I'm around Socials- even just one person who's Social- I feel like my IQ drops 10 points, but as soon as I'm back to relating in my preferred style, I'm back to feeling smart again. Both styles (actually all three, but I'm focusing on just the two here) can be honored equally.
If you're a Social, do you prefer one-on-one, or group interactions? This is my own poll.