Nov 27, 2019

Defense Against Disappointment

Finding your enneagram number Defending against disappointment dynamite, cool cucumber, silver lining

Three cousins walk into a bar. An illustration.

A fireball on ice, cucumber soda, silver martini, and sampler app ordered at the counter, the group finds a table with their silver table number in hand. After 20 minutes of laughing and talking, they notice their appetizer has not arrived.

Silver Martini, with a wave of the hand and smiling: “Oh, wow! We were just having so much fun. I’m sure they’re just busy back there, and it will be delicious when it arrives.”

Fireball, balling the napkin: “Can you believe that? I mean, really, what terrible service. Aren’t you frustrated by this?”

Cucumber Soda, popping up: “Well, I’ll just see what’s going on. No big deal. I’ll take care of it.”

Scattered around big tables and kids’ tables, paper plates on knees and china on a charger, we’re headed in the U.S. to whole lotta opportunities for joy and disappointment.

How we defend against disappointment is another doorway into the Enneagram. So as we’re exploring self-awareness, there’s nothing like a holiday with family to provide occasions to observe yourself. (If you missed the other posts, see the previous posts the Enneagram and Intelligence Centers, Coping with People, & Managing Expectations.)

We have new groups of three, the Conflict Coping Style triads. These styles are the foundation of how we deal with disappointment, conflict, and loss. These reactions often happen so quickly, we don’t realize the pattern. Until maybe your foundation gets a few cracks from relying too heavily on it. And nothing puts the pressure on like Aunt Diva coming in with big kisses and big questions.

Enneagram Symbol Conflict Coping Triads Conflict Resolution Coach

The Conflict Coping Style triads are:

  •  Reactive: Dynamite
  •  Logical: Cool Cucumber
  •  Optimistic: Silver Lining

How do you know which style is yours? And more importantly, what do you need to grow into more healthy conflict responses?

Here’s some help to discover your style and an in-the-moment trick to cope with conflict and defend against disappointment.


The Reactive Triad 4s, 6s, 8s

This group tends to look for emotional responses when facing disappointment, their own, and others. Through their emotions, they establish a connection to the problem as real, but the emotional reaction is also a shield. 

Enneagram Reactive Triad 4s, 6s, 8s

Do you tend to:

  • React emotionally or intensely first?
  • Get worked up?
  • Get frustrated when others don’t respond with the same level of emotional intensity?
  • Take a while to trust?
  • Have strong opinions?
  • Fear being unsupported, abandoned, or controlled?
  • Get moody, pessimistic, or confrontational?

What’s great about Dynamites: You honor all the feelings in the room.

What you Dynamites can do to grow: Learn to lower your intensity. 

When you stop using emotions as a shield to protect yourself against others and disappointment, you can build trust and find solutions.

In-the-moment trick: Take a slow, low breath. Mentally imagine yourself turning a dial from 100 to 50. And release that breath. For this the intensity of the holidays, you’ll want to use that InstaPot quick release value in a safe way.

Cool Cucumber

The Logical Triad 1s, 3s, 5s

This group tends to look for objective solutions within a specific framework or structure. They tend to remain detached and repress their feelings to see the facts.

Enneagram Logical Triad 1s, 3s, 5s

Do you tend to:

  • Respond with analysis and reasoning first?
  • See the problem and troubleshoot solutions dispassionately?
  • Leave your emotions behind or even detach to remain calm?
  • Focus on facts, rules, and tasks?
  • Miss the big picture in the middle of fighting fires?
  • Avoid getting emotionally whipped up?
  • Become competitive, critical, or the expert? 
  • Value maintaining emotional control?

What’s great about Cool Cucumbers: You bring focus to the issue and precise solutions.

What you Cool Cucumbers can do to grow: Incorporate others’ feelings and look for the big picture. Understand the emotional impact and broader purpose of decisions.

In-the-moment trick: Slow down and ask more questions—of yourself and others. Ask yourself, what’s the big idea? How are others emotional responding right now? Pause to see if you may have become rigid or impatient. If you find you’ve lost the forest for the trees, remind yourself of the big goal. During holiday gatherings, the goal is connection with others, not solving the world’s problems. If the gravy is lumpy because Ginger didn’t make it this year, remember it wasn’t vital to connection with people. 

Silver Lining

The Optimistic Triad 2s, 7s, 9s

When disappointed or facing conflict, this group tends to look for the bright side, reframing a situation to avoid negativity. This group can focus so much on the positive, they can neglect conflict’s root causes.

Enneagram Optimistic Triad 2s, 7s, 9s

Do you tend to:

  • Respond with the silver lining first? (Well, at least…)
  • See how this situation can turn out for the good?
  • Avoid negative emotions, yours and others’?
  • Focus on finding happiness in the best possible outcome?
  • Dismiss others as negative or too detailed? 
  • Struggle to balance others’ needs and your own, so you overvalue one over the other?
  • See the good intentions of others, but ignore the impact of their behavior?

What’s great about Silver Linings: You connect to the big picture and prioritize major concerns.

What you Silver Linings can do to grow: Actively address conflicts when needed.

In-the-moment trick: Stay engaged and recognize the disappointments. Slow down before you reframe the conflict. Be open with how you feel and ask for what you need. “I’m finding this hard. Could we talk about something else right now?” But make sure you do find a way to come back to discuss the issue. During holiday gatherings, it’s easy to just pretend it’s all ok. But if your Uncle John continues to poke at how your job takes you away from your kids, take the time to address the issue, just maybe not while passing the sweet potato pie.

A quick trick for all the triads: How might I use more of the other triads’ skills? For example, if you’re a Silver Lining, consider how to honor negative emotions and analyze to find the root of an issue.

Finding your Enneagram number, peeling back to discover your inner motivations and pattern—especially when faced with conflict—lays out a little path for growth. Maybe you can bring some growth to your family’s holiday table.Interested in digging deeper? Let’s talk about Enneagram Coaching! Learn more about Finding your number and schedule a free consultation.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a reply