Ask the Enneagram Coach, Part 3

Ginger Lapid-Bogda’s The Enneagram in Business portal contains an “Ask the Coach” feature, where a coach of each Type answers the same question about coaching, to give a flavor of the different possible perspectives. Ginger asked me to be the Type 9 – or Peacemaker – representative on this panel. Here’s my answer to the third question in the series.

Question 3: What do clients of your style most need from their developers – managers, mentors, or coaches – why do they need it, and what do coaches need to do to demonstrate this to clients of your style?

My answer: We benefit most when we receive gentle clarity. Since Style Nines don’t respond well to in-your-faceness, a nudge is more effective than a shove or a threat. Clarity helps, as we often lose sight of our goals in an ennui of priority, due to our external focus.

As a developer, you need to make sure that we have actively agreed to our goals: silence does not mean assent! It’s sometimes difficult for us to articulate what we want. If this is happening, just ask us what we don’t want. A client of mine took part in an Open Space meeting; one breakout session was run by a manager of Style Nine, who needed to define an interface for working with their supplier. For almost 30 minutes he wrapped the group in a fog of saga. As I walked by, my client asked me what he could do: I suggested he ask what the manager didn’t want in the solution. Within 90 seconds they had a complete “negative” list, which they could flip to reach the desired solution.

Even when we have agreed to goals, it’s helpful to remind us of them from time-to-time, for they will disappear from view, lost in a whirl of ideas, sensations, requests, conversations, where was I’s?

Which brings up a second facet of clarity: communicate clearly with us. Short, declarative sentences are good. It models a style other than our saga-based natural style. Keep your own focus, so that we don’t lose you in the fog of saga. And point this out to us, by commenting on the style of communication in the conversation. You can even turn it into a game and ask us to notice ourselves, when we are drifting towards sagadom.

If you’d like to see the other eight answers to this question, head over to the Enneagram Learning Portal. If you’d like to share your answer to the question, or discuss my answer, please leave a comment or trackback.

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