Difficult People Decoded: The Peacemaker
It’s fitting to end our introduction to the Enneagram on the easygoing peacemaker, the ninth personality type. These are the folks that avoid conflict at all costs. They prefer keeping things smooth and easy. My mentor says that they are often wide-eyed and wear beige clothing, all in an unconscious effort to be non-threatening.
In this way, they can be great moderators because they trust and accept others naturally.
But even these qualities have a shadow. This type wants to keep the peace so badly, they are often tempted to do absolutely nothing or worse suppress their feelings. Their shadow is sloth.
Nines are highly attune to everybody else’s agenda, yet consciously ignore their own for the sake of others. Of course nobody else sees their sacrifice. Their repression then becomes loaded and eventually reveals itself in surprising outbursts in time.
They are indeed masters of passive resistance. They waiver, hem, and haw before making any decision – which alienates others trying to get things done (e.g., Threes).
“Nines demonstrate the universal temptation to ignore the disturbing aspects of life and to seek some degree of peace and comfort by ‘numbing out.’ They respond to pain and suffering by attempting to live in a state of premature peacefulness, whether it is in a state of false spiritual attainment, or in more gross denial. More than any other type, Nines demonstrate the tendency to run away from the paradoxes and tensions of life by attempting to transcend them or by seeking to find simple and painless solutions to their problems.”
And, to be sure, they judge others for not being as patient. This is a slippery slope to resentment. Therefore, their key to development is to be more active, decisive, and hard-working.
These are qualities against their nature so it helps them to be part of an institution or have dependents that keep them moving. They need to sit with their suffering and avoid brushing it away with shallow antidotes.
I approached a self-proclaimed Nine hoping for some guidance during a time of deep betrayal. She listened then looked me in the eye and said, “There are two truths in every situation.” I was dumbfounded. Perhaps it was the right counsel, but definitely the wrong time.
In hindsight, I realize that this is how Nines approach their own inner life. They passively blow off pain with a veritable truth as some sort of armor from really dealing with a situation.
As a result, they don’t grow, but think they are. Of course this is the unhealthy loop that every Enneagram type, every person comes up against. Only until we can clearly understand these motivations will we have a chance of empathizing and moving forward in true relationship with ourselves and each other.
- “Let’s wait until Jane gets back”
- “Doesn’t matter to me”
- “Let’s just get this problem behind us”
- Laid back
- Resistant to change
- Concerned about others
- Analysis paralysis
Examples: Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Grace of Monaco, Claude Monet, Norman Rockwell, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Jr., General Colin Powell, Walter Cronkite, Carl Jung, Carl Rogers, Joseph Campbell, Garrison Keillor, Gloria Steinem, Tony Bennett, Ringo Starr, Jack Johnson, George Lucas, Ron Howard, Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Annette Bening, Jeff Bridges, Morgan Freeman, John Goodman, Matthew Broderick, Whoopie Goldberg, Geena Davis, Lisa Kudrow, “Mister Rogers”
How To Work With A Nine:
- Listen to their meanderings
- Discuss, but don’t confront
- Avoid creating pressure or expectations when making requests
- Give them time to make decisions, but they appreciate a follow-up nudge
- Flatter their inclusive behavior
- They enjoy seeing all sides so pipe up with questions
- When appropriate, hug them to help open up their feelings