Bringing out the Best in Yourself at Work: How to Use the ENNEAGRAM System for Success
This book was written by: Ginger Lapid-Bogda, PhD, a therapist who had been practicing for 20 years before discovering the power of the Enneagram in the 1990s. She has since become an advocate of the Enneagram system, taking her consulting career in a new direction. “While the Enneagram may be used solely as a psychological tool, many prefer to use the system with the psychological and spiritual elements intertwined”(p.xix).
What is in this book: A discussion of ways to apply the Enneagram system in a business environment. “No one knows the precise origins of the Enneagram, though its roots appear to lie in Asia and the Middle East and date from several thousand years ago”(p.xvii). This ancient technique was not widely publicized until two mystics and a psychiatrist started teaching it in the early twentieth century, but we can rely on their archaeological and anthropological credentials to give the Enneagram the same unimpeachable authenticity as Calgon and pearl cream.
The Enneagram system arranges people around a nine-pointed figure, assigning a number and a corresponding “style” to each point. It then makes use of geometry and mathematical relationships to show clear, intuitive linkages, like the way 1 leads to 4 but 8 leads to 5 while 4 leads to 2 and 7 leads to 1. It’s perfect for people who want something a little more decorative than a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator but think that the Zodiac is too fancy.
What is not in this book: A cookie-cutter approach that treats all personalities the same. People experience different “pinches” and “crunches” depending on their Enneagram style, and deal with them in a number of ways. For example, one Two notes that “’at family functions, I offer each person a foot rub. If the person refuses, I get quite upset and wonder why they don’t like me!’”(p.14) “Eights may amuse themselves by making comments to themselves about the events or by engaging in conversation about what they are observing, sometimes using profanity or body-based humor”(p.48), while “people often do not realize that Twos want to be explicitly thanked”(p.99). Readers can make use of this information to put others at ease, trading dick jokes with Eights and thanking Twos with the help of explicit lyricists like 2 Live Crew.
Would you recommend this book to The Prisoner? Yes. If Number 6 is concerned about being a free man, “the Enneagram provides a great step forward in helping people to develop their humanity at work”(p.xx). What better way to do that than to assign yourself a number?
Would you recommend this book to Tim Allen? Yes. If there’s one thing I learned from Home Improvement, it’s that he loves tools, and “The Enneagram is the single most useful, profound, insightful, and practical tool available to help us grasp the depth and complexity of the human personality”(p.xvii, emphasized by the author). Better yet, because “the Enneagram is the single most powerful tool available to help you develop your emotional intelligence”(p.xvi, emphasized by the author), it’s also a power tool.
What was interesting about this book? The book’s section on teams will help a wide variety of people, no matter how they prefer to work together. “Some prefer low interdependence, akin to that of a golf team; some prefer medium interdependence, as on a baseball team; and others prefer high interdependence, as on a basketball team”(p.149), although people who prefer to avoid sports metaphors are shit out of luck. Understanding and applying the Enneagram is important because “gaining a true understanding of your personality frees you from being constricted by certain aspects of it, allowing you to use all facets of yourself to become more of who you really are”(p.260). However, this may not be a good idea if you really are a jerk.
Bringing out the Best in Yourself at Work: How to Use the ENNEAGRAM System for Success, by Ginger Lapid-Bogda, PhD (McGraw Hill, 2004, ISBN 0-07-143960-9)