Navigating Difficult People Through EnneagramApr 28, 2023
Have you ever found yourself perplexed by the behavior and mindset of those around you? Wondering what goes on in their minds and hoping for a clearer understanding of how they want to be perceived and understood.
I think we've all thought that (or something close to it, at least).
It's a common experience that many of us can relate to, as we strive to navigate social interactions without inadvertently offending or misunderstanding others.
My journey with the Enneagram began when I was feeling overwhelmed and stressed, both personally and professionally. As a busy woman physician, I was constantly juggling multiple responsibilities on my plate. I found myself struggling to understand why I reacted the way I did in certain situations, why I had certain patterns of behavior, and why I sometimes felt disconnected from others despite my best intentions.
That's when I stumbled upon the Enneagram, and it was a game-changer for me.
Enneagram in Healthcare Setting
Navigating the complex web of personalities in the healthcare setting has been a significant part of my professional journey as a woman physician. I've encountered patients, colleagues, and even team members who have posed unique challenges, making interactions difficult and sometimes even frustrating. However, as I've grown in my career, I've realized that understanding others goes beyond surface-level interactions and requires a deeper insight into their motivations and behaviors.
That's where the Enneagram, a powerful tool for self-awareness and understanding others, has come into play.
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I want to share my experiences and insights as a woman physician using the Enneagram to better understand and connect with the people I encounter in my medical practice. This tool provided me with a unique perspective that I want to share with my fellow healthcare professionals, particularly women in the field, who face unique challenges and dynamics.
Whether it's a difficult patient who seems resistant to treatment, a colleague who is hard to collaborate with, or a team member who has different communication styles, the Enneagram has helped me gain valuable insights into the underlying motivations and perspectives that influence their behaviors. I believe that by understanding others through the lens of the Enneagram, we can improve our relationships, foster effective communication, and ultimately provide better care to our patients.
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Why is it Hard to Understand Others?
I've come to realize that understanding others can be a challenging endeavor. Despite my best efforts to communicate effectively, there are inherent complexities in human nature which can make it challenging to fully understand others. Here are some reflections from my perspective on why it can be hard to understand others, based on my experiences as a woman physician:
Throughout my career, I encountered various patients and colleagues from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and belief systems. Each person brings a unique perspective shaped by their upbringing, experiences, and values. As a physician, I've learned that it's crucial to acknowledge and respect these differences, but it can still be challenging to fully understand someone whose perspective may be vastly different from mine.
As I reflected on my experiences in the healthcare setting, I realized that emotions can be complex and multi-layered. Patients may conceal their true emotions for various reasons, such as fear, embarrassment, or cultural norms. Similarly, colleagues and team members may hide their emotions to uphold a professional demeanor.
I became acutely aware of these emotional nuances, but I found it challenging to discern the underlying emotions and motivations of others when they were not openly expressed. I understand that it can be difficult to accurately gauge the emotional state and respond appropriately without clear cues from others, making it challenging to discern their true emotions.
Time can be a precious commodity, especially in fast-paced environments like medical professional settings. In the hustle and bustle of a busy healthcare environment, it can be challenging to carve out the time needed to truly understand others. The pressures of time constraints can often result in rushed interactions, misinterpretations, and misunderstandings. Ultimately, that can hinder our ability to fully grasp and appreciate others' perspectives.
That's why we tend to make quick assumptions or judgments based on superficial observations or limited information, without taking the time to dig deeper into understanding others.
Effective communication in healthcare is crucial, but it can be hindered by various challenges. Language barriers, technical jargon, differing communication styles, and gender biases are some of the hurdles that I have encountered as a woman physician. However, through active listening, using plain language, adapting communication styles, and being mindful of cultural nuances, I strive to overcome these challenges and establish a clear understanding with patients, colleagues, and team members.
We all have personal biases shaped by our upbringing, experiences, and societal influences. These biases can color our perceptions and interpretations of others, making it challenging to have an unbiased understanding.
Despite these challenges, I've found that the Enneagram has been a valuable tool in helping me understand others more deeply. By delving into the underlying motivations, fears, and desires of individuals through the Enneagram, I've gained insights that have helped me navigate the complexities of human nature. It has allowed me to approach others with greater empathy, communicate more effectively, and build stronger relationships based on understanding and compassion.
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How Can I Understand Others Through Enneagram?
I cannot emphasize enough how impactful using the Enneagram has been in helping me understand others on a deeper level. Here are some practical ways that I have used this powerful tool to gain understanding and foster better relationships with others:
The journey of self-awareness with the Enneagram has been a profound and transformative one. It has allowed me to truly understand my own Enneagram type and the deep-seated motivations, fears, and desires that shape my behaviors. Through this self-awareness, I have gained invaluable insights into my own biases, tendencies, and blind spots. It has given me a heightened sense of mindfulness, allowing me to be more present and intentional in my interactions.
Recognizing Different Enneagram Types
The Enneagram is a remarkable tool that has opened my eyes to the beauty of human diversity. It defines nine distinct personality types, each with its own unique set of traits, behaviors, and perspectives. Through my journey of familiarizing myself with these Enneagram types, I have developed a profound appreciation for the intricacies and nuances of human nature.
This newfound awareness has enabled me to recognize and appreciate the unique perspectives, motivations, and needs of others. It has given me a deeper understanding of why people behave the way they do, and it has allowed me to approach interactions with an open heart and an open mind. I have come to realize that each person's perspective is shaped by their Enneagram type, and this understanding has helped me to be more patient, compassionate, and accepting of others.
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Practicing Empathy and Compassion
This powerful tool reminds us of the importance of empathy and compassion in understanding others. By stepping into the shoes of others and seeking to understand their Enneagram type, I have been able to approach interactions with a heart full of empathy and compassion. This shift in perspective has transformed my relationships with others for the better.
When I take the time to understand the unique Enneagram type of others, I am better able to grasp their motivations, fears, and struggles. This understanding allows me to approach interactions with patience and non-judgment, creating a safe space for open communication and mutual understanding. I can listen with empathy, offer support with compassion, and extend understanding with an open heart.
Listening with Intent
The power of active listening cannot be overstated, and the Enneagram has reinforced this invaluable skill for me. By genuinely listening to others with an open mind, free from any preconceived notions or judgments, I have unlocked the key to truly understanding their perspectives and concerns.
Active listening has enabled me to be fully present at the moment, attentive to both the verbal and non-verbal cues of those I am interacting with. It has allowed me to create a safe space for open and honest communication, where individuals feel heard and understood. As I listen attentively, I strive to understand not just the words being spoken, but also the underlying emotions, motivations, and fears that may be driving the conversation. This deeper level of listening has helped me to gain a more accurate and holistic understanding of others, allowing me to respond more thoughtfully and compassionately.
Tailoring Communication Styles
The Enneagram has opened my eyes to the beauty of individual differences in communication styles. Each person's Enneagram type can influence how they communicate, with some being more direct and assertive, while others are more reserved or sensitive. Through this awareness, I have learned to adapt my communication style to better align with others' preferences, resulting in more productive and meaningful interactions. By embracing these differences, I have come to appreciate the diversity of human communication, which has enriched my relationships and interactions with others.
The Enneagram has enlightened me about the significance of honoring others' boundaries. Each Enneagram type has its own unique set of comfort levels and boundaries, and recognizing these distinctions has enabled me to be more mindful of not crossing or disregarding others' needs and preferences. By honoring these boundaries, I have fostered a greater sense of trust, respect, and understanding in my relationships with others. This has not only enriched my connections but has also enhanced my professional interactions, leading to more positive outcomes and experiences for all involved.
Setting boundaries is not always easy, but it is a crucial step to let others understand you and your needs. Check out my book, Brave Boundaries, which will provide you with the knowledge, tools, and inspiration you need to confidently set boundaries that honor your needs, values, and priorities.
The Enneagram has instilled in me a profound understanding that no Enneagram type is superior or inferior to another. Each type possesses its unique perspective and motivations, shaping its behaviors and choices. This realization has enabled me to shed my judgmental tendencies and embrace a more accepting and inclusive mindset. It has allowed me to approach interactions with an open mind and a non-judgmental attitude, fostering a more understanding and inclusive environment.
Enneagram Changes Lives
I firmly believe that the Enneagram has the power to transform lives, offering deep insights and profound self-awareness. It is not just a tool for understanding oneself, but also for understanding others with empathy and compassion. The Enneagram taught me that each person is unique, with their own distinct Enneagram type, and this understanding brings about positive changes in our lives.
Through the Enneagram, I learn to recognize my strengths and weaknesses, understand motivations, fears, and desires, and become aware of patterns of behavior of the people around me. This self-awareness helped me identify and break free from self-limiting beliefs and behaviors that may have held me back in the past. It empowered me to make conscious choices and live more authentically, aligned with my true self. With the Enneagram, I appreciated the diversity and beauty of human nature, and recognized that everyone is special in their way. This fostered empathy, compassion, and tolerance deep within me toward others.
I encourage you to embark on your own Enneagram journey and discover the transformative power it holds. Embrace the self-awareness, empathy, and compassion that the Enneagram can bring into your life.
This is a powerful tool that can truly change lives for the better.
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