Enneagram Basics: The Wings

Looking at the Enneagram symbol we can see that every point or Enneatype has a type on each side of it, and these two adjacent types are known as "wings".  Although we can at times take on the qualities of either or both of our wings, one of these wings will be dominant, and that wing will flavor our type with the qualities of that wing.  For example, Nines with a One wing will take on some of the qualities of a One, and so will have a different flavor than Nines with an Eight wing.

You'll notice that, with the exception of the "triangle" points of 3, 6 and 9, all of the points have a potential wing in a different "center of intelligence", while  Points 3, 6 and 9 always have both wings in the same center (which can cause some interesting tension).

 

You'll often see wings designated as, say, 9w1, meaning a Type 9 with a Type 1 wing. 

 

Let's take a brief look at how our wings influence our type... 

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Wings for Ones
Nine Wing Ones with a Nine wing tend to have a greater ability to relax and unwind, to be less reactive when they disagree with someone, and are more likely to solicit the opinions of others rather than relying primarily on their own judgments.

Two Wing Ones with a Two wing tend to be more consistently generous, gregarious, and people-focused, and may display more consistent warmth to others (wing in the "heart center").

Wings for Twos
One Wing  Twos with a One wing balance their focus on people with a dedication to task, tend to be more discerning about situations and people, pay more attention to detail, and have an increased ability to be firm and to say no (wing in the "head center").

Three Wing  Twos with a Three wing tend to be more comfortable being visible, such as holding a high-profile position. In addition, these Twos feel more comfortable acknowledging their desire to be successful and appreciated.

Wings for Threes
Two Wing  Threes with a Two wing tend to be more sensitive to the feelings of others, more generous with their time and resources, and often focus on helping others in their professional and/or personal lives.

Four Wing  Threes with a Four wing tend to be more in contact with their own feelings, more willing to engage in emotional conversations with others, have a deeper personal presence, tend to have an artistic sensibility and often engage in some form of artistic expression.

Wings for Fours
Three Wing  Fours with a Three wing tend to be more action oriented, have higher and more consistent energy levels, exhibit more poise and confidence, and are more comfortable with being highly visible.

Five Wing  Fours with a Five wing tend to be more objective and analytical, have an increased ability to perceive situations from a more considered and less emotionally reactive perspective, and often demonstrate more self-restraint and self-containment (wing in the "head center").

Wings for Fives
Four Wing  Fives with a Four wing tend to be more withdrawn, emotionally sensitive and expressive, and also have an aesthetic perspective, perhaps engaging in the arts themselves (wing in the "heart center").

Six Wing  Fives with a Six wing tend to engage more readily, place greater value on loyalty, and may have enhanced intuitive insight.  These Fives may tend toward interests in fields like science and technology.

Wings for Sixes
Five Wing  Sixes with a Five wing tend to be more internally than externally focused, as well as more self-contained and restrained. They also have an increased passion for knowledge and use the pursuit of knowledge not only to gather information in order to feel prepared, but also for the pure enjoyment of learning.

Seven Wing  It is sometimes said that Sixes see the glass as half empty and Sevens see it as half full. Thus, when Sixes have a Seven wing, they see the whole glass and therefore tend to be more cheerful, less worried, more optimistic, and higher-energy.  These Sevens are more likely to be playful, outgoing and humorous.

Wings for Sevens
Six Wing  Sevens with a Six wing add the capacity to understand situations as being both half-full and half-empty. Because these Sevens have an increased perceptiveness and an ability to anticipate potential problems, their actions become more deliberate and less based on their instantaneous reactions (wing in "head center").

Eight Wing  Sevens with an Eight wing tend to be more direct, assertive, and powerful. They have a more grounded presence and an increased desire to put ideas into action.

Wings for Eights
Seven Wing  Eights with a Seven wing add a lightheartedness to the usually more serious Eight outlook, are more high-spirited and independent, tend to be more adventurous, and are willing to try new things in their personal and professional lives for the sake of experimentation and enjoyment (wing in the "head center").

Nine Wing  Eights with a Nine wing tend to be interpersonally warmer, more calm and less reactive, and solicit and listen to others’ opinions because they are more consensually oriented.

Wings for Nines
Eight Wing  Nines with an Eight wing tend to assert their own points of view more readily, and can make fast and clear decisions (even in the face of strong opposition).  They have a more take-charge orientation, exhibiting a solidity and forcefulness while still maintaining a desire to hear others’ opinions.

One Wing  Nines with a One wing tend to be more attentive, pay more attention to detail, and are more punctual and precise. A One wing increases their overall focus, acuity, clarity, and discernment.

** Wing descriptions based on material from The Art of Typing: Powerful Tools for Enneagram Typing,

      by Ginger Lapid-Bogda, Ph.D. (2018).  Please see Resources page.

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“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest."

- Pema Chodron

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Next Steps on Your Journey:
1. With the Enneatype you are working with in mind, what are your two wings, and which wing do you think is your dominant wing?  What examples of thinking / feeling / acting are you noticing as evidence?
2. Which specific qualities of your dominant wing influence your behavior?  Can you give some examples?
3. Is your dominant wing in another "center"?  If so, how does that center influence your thinking / feeling / behavior?
4. Are both of your wings in the same center as your type (3-6-9)?  If so, how does that influence your thinking / feeling / behavior?
5. Can you feel the tension between your two wings?  How does that show up?  What does it feel like?
6. What else are you noticing about your wings?
7. When you're ready...let's move on to the Levels of Development...