What Kind of Designer Are You Based on Your Enneagram Type?

Posted on August 8, 2019 | Updated on June 11, 2024

Enneagram is a tool to assess personality type and is made up of nine distinct varieties. At first glance, the Enneagram looks complicated. It’s made up of a circle with intersecting lines and nine distinct points, almost like a crazy star shape. However, when you realize that each personality type may pick up traits from other categories, it is much easier to understand how the Enneagram works.

Your personality has a big impact on how you look at the world and your style as a designer. If you’ve ever taken a personality test, such as Myers-Briggs, then you may already have an idea of your general outlook on life and a vision of what you look like as a creative artist. An Enneagram is just another tool to figure out your strengths and weaknesses so you can set up conditions to work productively.

With the Enneagram, you fall into one of the nine types, but you then pick up traits from the other types. It is common to pick up traits associated with the types that are adjacent to your main profile. So if you are a type five, you might pick up traits from a four or six. These are called your “wings” and are represented as “5w4” or “5w6” when five is your main profile. If you are a seven, then your profile might be 7w6 or 7w5 or both.

If you want to do your own research, check out The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery. Now, let’s look at the nine types on the Enneagram and how each set of traits impacts you as a designer.

Type 1: Perfectionist

This personality type is sometimes called the “strict perfectionist” or “the reformer.” Some of the attributes of Type 1 include a high level of integrity and striving for perfection. This person has strong self-control and appreciates structure and strict rules. Some people who fall into this category are discerning, but they can also be uncompromising and judgey. Type ones tend to be leaders wherever they go.

Things to be aware of as a designer:

  • Listen to others without judgment and consider their ideas.
  • Know when to walk away from a project. It doesn’t have to be perfect — just good enough.
  • Learn to express yourself and not keep emotions bottled up until they reach boiling point.

Type 2: The Helper

Type twos very much want people to like them and appreciate their help. Relationships matter to this personality, and they are often generous and self-sacrificing to a fault. You may notice that traits from Type 2 are on the wing for Type 1, so you might be a perfectionist who wants people to like you. Talk about stressful! Twos are good communicators but can be a bit naive.

Things to be aware of as a designer:

  • Don’t say “yes” to so many people that you get overwhelmed.
  • Set boundaries and stick to them, or you may wind up feeling used.
  • Make an effort to stay in touch with clients after a project is over.

Type 3: The Achiever

This personality is also sometimes called “The Performer” or “Type A.” Some of the traits of the achiever include high energy and high achievement. They tend to overwork and be highly competitive, which is both positive and negative. Achievers motivate themselves instead of needing external motivation. They also tend to be results-oriented, setting firm goals and achieving them most of the time.

Things to be aware of as a designer:

  • Create a balance between work and personal life so you don’t burn out.
  • Accept that you may not always be the top designer or a client’s choice.
  • Being self-driven sometimes results in health problems, as the Achiever works themselves non-stop.

Type 4: Creatives

Creatives — also called “Romantics” — have intense personalities and often tend to go into careers in the arts. So it’s very likely you at least have some of these traits as a designer. Some of the qualities of Type 4s include a deep compassion for others, a propensity for melancholy and an awareness of their own emotions.

Things to be aware of as a designer:

  • Be careful you don’t come across as moody to your clients. You likely experience deep emotions, but your clients may be a different personality type and not wish to deal with your feelings.
  • If a client says something hurtful, ask for clarity about what they mean and try to focus on the non-personal aspects of the complaint.
  • Try not to reference yourself during conversations, as this comes across as self-absorbed to others.

Type 5: Investigator

Type 5 is like an investigative journalist and is also called an “Observer.” They tend to remain silent and take in everything going on around them. They only speak when they’ve had time to think through a situation and come up with something significant to add. Because they are more aware of everything going on around them, they also have a lot of insight about complex problems. They tend to be unemotional.

Things to be aware of as a designer:

  • Be careful that your analytical nature doesn’t come across as coldness.
  • Speak up from time to time. It can appear you don’t have anything to contribute when you’re really just thinking things through.
  • Socialize with others in your company. It’s easy to become isolated as a Type 5.

Type 6: Loyal Skeptic

The loyal skeptic is a unique type on this scale. The character of the Loyal Skeptic is a sense of value for security and a need for preparation. They don’t really feel the world is a safe place. Their motto is to be ready for anything, be loyal to people who count on you and be cautious about trusting others. When a Loyalist commits to something, they are all in and rarely quit.

Things to be aware of as a designer:

  • Because you rarely quit, be careful of clients who are extremely difficult. Don’t be afraid to let them go.
  • Learn to be a bit more trusting. Not every client is trying to ruin your life.
  • Because of your worry, you may hesitate and miss out on important opportunities.

Type 7: Visionary

The Visionary is also called an “Enthusiast.” If you’ve ever heard someone say that you’re “a bit too much,” you are likely a visionary. This classification tends to want to experience everything life has to offer. They have high energy and optimism and get excited over new opportunities. This type is flexible and adjusts to change well.

Things to be aware of as a designer:

  • Sevens love to learn new things but may overestimate their abilities at first.
  • Because you are smart and on the ball, you may think you know what someone is going to say and not listen as closely as you should.
  • Seeking to always feel upbeat, this type may sometimes avoid uncomfortable tasks and situations. Make an effort to deal with the problems clients point out, rather than avoiding difficult conversations.

Type 8: Protector

On the Enneagram, Eights want to be strong and not show any vulnerable points to others. They are the ones who step into the fray in a difficult situation and take charge. They believe only the strong survive and they are determined to never show weakness. These people are decisive and not afraid to speak their minds, but also want to protect those they see as weaker.

Things to be aware of as a designer:

  • Slow down and let others catch up with your decisive nature. They may need more time to see your vision.
  • Others may see you as bossy. Try to temper your ability to take charge and learn to communicate ideas while letting others make some of the decisions.
  • Eights don’t like dishonesty. If you encounter a situation where a fellow employee or client is not upfront, you’ll need to distance yourself before responding.

Type 9: Mediator

The Mediator, or “Peacemaker” has mannerisms such as feeling in step with the rest of the world. Type Nines are easy to get along with and adapt well to changes. They like to avoid conflict and are adept at helping others skirt around problems by serving as mediators during intense situations. They come off as open to others and supportive.

Things to be aware of as a designer:

  • Nines tend to be passive but aren’t easily moved to another way of thinking. This can lead to passive-aggressive behavior that is abhorrent to others.
  • Nines have a hard time saying no to others and can overlook their own needs.
  • Don’t try to point out every side of a story when seeking solutions. This can cause others to lose interest in what you’re saying. Present only the best two or three options.

Understanding the Enneagram

Don’t try to make understanding the Enneagram too complicated. Like most personality tests, it is simply a way to better understand your traits. It isn’t common for personalities to change at their core, so don’t look at your traits as negatives. Instead, they’re challenges that require a bit of adjustment as a designer or perks that make your work easier.

You may notice you have traits in each of the nine types, which is quite common. But one should define you better than the others. Understanding your personal style better improves your workspace and even the timing of projects, so strive to understand yourself on a new level through the Enneagram.



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About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at www.eleanorhecks.com.

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