The purple curling ribbon slipped from the package as I eagerly opened a present from my high-school boyfriend (who happened to become my husband).
I smiled and lightly brushed the cellophane pages of the leather album, full of prints of Michael and me and our friends. My 18-year-old self laughed at the memories and hugged the album.
What I didn’t do? Burst into tears...
…and that lack of tears led to a fight. I mean, it wasn’t our first fight, but that conflict led to important discoveries that have lasted us for nearly 30 years.
In our immature selves, we assumed showing care for each other meant treating each other the way we wanted to be treated.
Wait? Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Well, the short answer? No.
This was our first opportunity to learn we have different expectations.
We see the world differently.
We experience appreciation differently.
When did you first discover this truth? I bet it was a while ago. And yet, we often forget. Especially when it comes to asking for what we need. This goes for all relationships: teenage romance to the CEO and the board.
Here’s my question for you:
Why would they know?
They’re not Professor X. (Unless you’re with Prof. X., then he really should know.) Our teammates, housemates, officemates…all think and experience the world differently than you do. They literally don’t know.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell people what we need because we stumble over this lie: “They should just know.”
The other issue we face is our own blindness— we don’t always know ourselves. Do I need a nap, less work, a listening ear, sunshine…all of the above? We’ve become so accustomed to just doing stuff and coping, we’re out of touch with what we need and want.
The Enneagram helps us with both scenarios. The Enneagram personality framework puts words to the deep desires of our own minds and hearts and that of others. And in any relationship, the vocabulary helps us make what is fuzzy more clear.
Here are a few things you might need right now (or many always!), depending on your Enneagram type.
What I need as an…
- Eight: Appreciate and even match my intensity with your whole self. Don’t sugarcoat. Be loyal and protect me. Remind me that vulnerability is safe with you.
- Nine: Wait for my answers. Appreciate that if I engage in anything that could cost harmony, it’s taking a lot of effort. Remind me that my presence matters.
- One: Say what you mean. Respectfully. And then do it. Remind me it’s ok to tell my inner critic to sit down and zip it.
- Two: Say thank you. For little and big things, show gratitude. Appreciate me. Remind me it’s ok for me to take time for myself. Help me do that.
- Three: Cheer on my dreams. Help me celebrate winning. Help me get things done faster. Remind me that my belonging is not at stake if I fail.
- Four: Listen to my feelings. Affirm that my feelings are real and intense. Appreciate my intuition. Remind me that I am not missing something that other people have.
- Five: Be supportive of my need to be alone. Let me figure things out on my own. Respect the information I bring to you. Remind me that it’s ok that I have physical and emotional needs.
- Six: Appreciate that my preparation is to care for you. Don’t dismiss my concerns. Show me that our relationship is important to you by keeping commitments. Remind me I can make good decisions.
- Seven: Join in my brainstorming and dreaming. Encourage my healthy spontaneity. Appreciate that fun and joy are important to me. Ask me how I’m really doing, and don’t force me to be positive. Remind me that I will be taken care of.
Do these feel right? Can you see how to practically ask for what you need? And what you can give others in your life?
Here’s what this does on your team and in your other relationships: It is part of building trust. There are 7.9 billion google results for the importance of trust on a team.
What we do, not just our words, builds trust. When we demonstrate care, we build trust. When we ask for care, we demonstrate trust.
Can I give you a little challenge? Share your favorite from this list with someone. In a text, forward the blog, over slack, or actual words-out-loud, face-to-face conversation. Let’s build some trust together.
I’d LOVE to hear what you would add to your type? Or what do you need, even if you don’t know your type? Comment below!