How am I feeling? Really!?! How can I answer that when I’m feeling everything! If you want to understand the emotional content of, well, anything, then have a conversation with your Enneagram Type 4 teammate. Do you feel me?
Feelings? Yes, Please!
As Shrek once pointed out, “Ogres are like onions. […] Ogres have layers.” Layers of what goes unsaid, but clearly Shrek is talking about feelings—and, clearly, Shrek is a Type 4. (By the way, Shrek and Donkey illustrate the relationship between Type 4 and Type 7.)
Enneagram Type 4 is the internal-emotions type in the Feeling Center of the Enneagram. This type has the innate ability to “feel” the emotional content of the world, both what is present and also what is missing. Having conversations about feelings is when rapport building takes place with your Type 4 teammates.
Mirroring 9.0 – Safe Space
As discussed in this 5/8/20 blog, mirroring is one of the most important rapport building skills. Mirroring with Type 4 requires conversations about feelings. In some settings, such conversations are not welcome nor appreciated. For Type 4s, these settings are stifling. Social conversations that focus only on positivity and superficiality will not seem genuine to the 4. They yearn for something deeper. Herein lies your opportunity to build rapport and trust with your Type 4 teammate—by finding opportunities to share your own feelings. Your Type 4 teammate will often express deep empathy and provide unique perspectives on your situation. Acknowledging and appreciating these gifts is a key step to building rapport with Type 4.
Type 4s may be reluctant to share their feelings with you. To the 4, asking how they are feeling is a ridiculous question. Remember the onion? They are experiencing ALL feelings in layers. Simply saying they feel one way only exposes the next layer of feelings. Do they express that, too? And the next? In any case, by sharing your own feelings you are signaling to the 4 that it is safe to talk about feelings. Let them share when they are ready—no need to force it.
Pining is not Wanting
Type 4s often dwell on what is missing—they pine for things that are not there. For most people, we mistake pining for wanting. If we hear a Type 4 pine for something we may acquire that thing and give it to them. Don’t be surprised if the reaction is, “Why did you get this?” The 4 didn’t want the thing, they just wanted to pine for it. Pining is a way for the 4 to deeply explore the emotional content of something. That process is more important than the thing itself.
Remember when photographs were processed on film? We gave the film to the processor and in return received a set of photographs and negatives. To most of us, the world is represented by the photograph, the positive view of the world. Imagine if you could see the world in the negative, inverted and highlighting what is missing rather than what is there—now you are starting to see the worldview of the 4.
Having a Type 4 on your team provides valuable perspectives and insights. When evaluating ideas for solutions, they provide insight into how the world will respond emotionally to each proposal. They can identify what is missing and suggest elements that may be critical for persistent and sustainable solutions. Also, they can determine if there is sufficient positive emotional energy behind any proposal to garner the support necessary from the team to make the effort to reach the goal. Eliciting and valuing these perspectives from Type 4 teammates is another rapport building example.
When does rapport building take place with the Enneagram Type 4s in your life? What rapport building strategies work for you? What have you learned to avoid?