Review of Wagele’s “THE ENNEAGRAM for TEENS” in Psychology Today.

Chapt.4 Fit in

Is Your Teen an Observer, Asserter, Perfectionist or …?

Knowing their personality type helps teens understand their lives.

Post published by Susan Newman Ph.D. on Feb 16, 2015 in Singletons

So often conflicts occur because of a breakdown in communication where one party fails to understand the motives of the other and, in turn, acts in an uncaring or harmful way.

The old “golden rule” says to “Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.” A better way of thinking is “Do unto others as others would like you to do onto them.”

For example, an otherwise loving husband gives his sick wife lots of space to relax and recover because that’s how he would like to be treated when feeling under the weather. But she feels neglected because she likes to be pampered and doted on when she’s sick.

That’s one way Elizabeth Wagele makes the case for discovering your personality type and celebrating your true self while improving communication with others. In her new book, The Enneagram for Teens: Discover Your Personality Type and Celebrate Your True Self, she does the same for teens.

 Personality classified

According to Wagele and the enneagram of personality system, there are nine basic types of people in the world, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Everyone falls into one of these categories. The nine enneagram types are Perfectionist, Helper, Achiever, Romantic, Observer, Questioner, Adventurer, Asserter and Peace Seeker. Adults have been reaping the benefits of using the enneagram system to understand one another for years.

The Enneagram for Teens presents the idea that it can be very helpful for teens to learn about which personality type they fall into. So much about being a teen can be confusing and difficult to understand, but organizing things into these nine categories can alleviate some of the confusion. Not only does the enneagram provide some extra structure for what can be a tumultuous time in one’s life, but it can also change the way a teen views herself, her friends, and others in the world.


Getting to know one another

Wagele, for example, posits that once you realize you’re an Observer and your parent is an Asserter, you can understand each other’s motives better. If you’re fighting, maybe you now understand why that parent is treating you a certain way or pushing you to try new things. The enneagram not only allows you to know yourself better, but also to reach across the aisle and understand where someone else is coming from.

Personality types can conflict, not everyone sees the world in the same way and subtle variations in a person’s personality may cause them to react differently than expected in some situations. However, our differences aren’t necessarily a bad thing once we learn to use the enneagram to relate to one another. As an Observer, you’re curious but shy and want to gather new knowledge without necessarily putting yourself in difficult social situations. You’re more comfortable hanging back a bit. Observers want to see things more clearly but are also afraid of putting themselves out there and being wrong. If your parent is an Asserter, an energetic leader, there might be some conflict there. A parent might be constantly trying to push the Observer teen out of his comfort zone, which can be scary, though not always a bad thing. Asserters can help Observers become more decisive, even if at first the Observer resists being pushed.

 Owning your strengths and finding a path

The enneagram system for teens is more about knowing your strengths and celebrating them than focusing on the differences between people who fit different enneagrams. Once you know which of the nine you are, you can try and put yourself in situations where your strengths shine.

Knowing your type might be helpful for a teen in choosing a college, a study major or career path. Applying to college can be a stressful process for teens made a bit easier if they better understand themselves and their strengths. They’re being asked, often for the first time, to make major decisions that can influence the rest of their lives. The enneagram can assist them in discovering what they’re good at and selecting a college or career path that plays to and builds on those strengths.

Anything that might ease the stress and complications of teen life is worth looking into.

Reference: Wagele, Elizabeth.The Enneagram for Teens:Discover Your Personality Type and Celebrate Your True Self. Montana: PLI Media, 2014

Copyright @ 2015 by Susan Newman

Illustration credit: Elizabeth Wagele


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