How Enneagram wings work (An in-depth analysis)

In this article, we will answer the question – “How Enneagram Wings Work” As an enneagram enthusiast, we are all intrigued to know our type and learn more about ourselves. If you are looking for answers about your wing, this article is just for you.

To begin with, Enneagram is a theory that offers an explanation for understanding the human personality in terms of nine different types. It explains the different types of personalities with the help of a geometric figure like that of a regular nine-sided polygon. According to this theory a person’s personality can be identified as one of the nine possible combinations that are inclusive of one’s beliefs, values and motivations.

How do enneagram wings work?

The basic personality type is what characteristics one possesses primarily, but the wings are more like complementary characteristics that add to one’s overall personality. The wings are considered as the “Second-side” of one’s personality as there is a high possibility of presence of such characteristics in varied proportions. As a matter of fact, it is also possible to have one dominant wing or both wings in equity. Debates and discussions have occurred numerous times in the past to determine whether there exist one wings or two – the catch though, is just the possibility of their presence.

The how and why of this phenomenon is further discussed.

What is the Enneagram?

The word enneagram comes from the Greek word “Ennea” which means nine and “Gramma” which means something that is written or drawn. Enneagram consequently literally means nine different types of illustrations. According to this theory a person’s personality can be identified as one of the nine possible combinations that are inclusive of one’s beliefs, values and motivations.

The formal definition of Enneagram is as follows:

“A system of classifying personality types that is based on a nine-pointed starlike figure inscribed within a circle in which each of the nine points represent a personality type and its psychological motivations influencing a person’s emotions, attitudes, and behaviours.

What are wings?

The types on either side of each core type are called “Wings.” The enneagram personality theorists propound that the wings are representative of related personality styles of whose characteristics one might possess to a certain extent. The basic assumption behind this understanding is that an individual’s basic personality type can be modified.

The wings are symbolic of a possibility that an individual is likely to manifest characteristics that may not be central to the dominant personality type. They can be looked at as “Helpers” as they indicate areas of potential to explore and discover one’s manifested personality. The knowledge of wings associated with each type gives us the opportunity to unlock our hidden talents and generate a greater understanding of the self.

Each enneagram is assigned with wings that give a more dynamic view of one’s personality. Each one of us has a wing or a pair of wings so associated with the dominant enneagram type. Each type is assigned two wings one to its left and one to its right (eg. type 1 wings are 9 & 2, type 2 wings are 1 &3, and so on). But it is a possibility that the wing characteristics may not be predominantly visible, because they vary in their intensity of influence. Additionally, one wing may be more influential than the other.

What are my possible wings?

Type 1

1 w 9 – Realistic & Detail-Oriented Perfectionists

1 w 2 – Social & Ethical

Type 2

2 w 1 – Empathetic & Caring Individuals

2 w 3 – Social & Work-Oriented Organisers

Type 3

3 w 2 – Optimistic Go-Getters & Socially Popular

3 w 4 – Motivated & Organised Leaders

Type 4

4 w 3 – Artistic & Charismatic

4 w 5 – Passionate Creators with a Mission

Type 5

5 w 4 – Individualistic & Loners

5 w 6 – Free Spirited & Curious

Type 6

6 w 5 – Resourceful & Responsible

6 w 7 – Fun-Loving & Cheerful

Type 7

7 w 6 – Happy-Go-Lucky & Entertaining

7 w 8 – Innovative & Curious

Type 8

8 w 7 – Confident & Determined

8 w 9 – Collectivistic Leader

Type 9

9 w 8 – Independent & Wanderer

9 w 1 – Pragmatic & Collected

How to identify my wing?

To determine your enneagram wing, the first step is to take an enneagram test. The wing is indicated by the highest scoring personality resemblance on either side of your basic type. For example, if your dominant type is 2, the score that is greater on either type 1 or type 3 is your dominant wing.

How many wings can you have?

The enneagram proposes the possibility of the presence of wings such that there is a possibility of having a maximum of two wings at the same time but this number cannot exceed. There can be one or no wings but not more than two at a time.

  • There may be no wings –

It is possible that there may not be any major influence of either of the wings on the dominant personality type. This can be because there has not been enough exposure of opportunities for the individual to explore the alternate traits. The degree of influence of either of the wings in such a case may be negligible to minimal but there is possibility to explore and enhance the wings. 

  • There may be one wing –

It is also possible to have one dominant wing out of the possible two. This can be because the beliefs and core values may match more strongly of the dominant wing with the core personality type. As a result, this wing is activated and more relied upon than the latter. Another reason could be that the second wing has not been brough to conscious awareness yet which is why the first has a greater degree of impact.

  • There may be two wings –

The alternative possibility is to have the presence of both wings. In such a case, there may be balance between the two or one might be more influential than the other. The degree of influence depends upon what personality traits have been tapped into, used more often, and explored more.

The presence of wings and their degree of impact/influence highly depends from person to person. This is due to the individual differences in numerous factors such as brought up, life experiences, intelligence quotient, emotional quotient, and so on.

Conclusion 

In this article, we answered the question – “How enneagram wings work”

To summarise, everyone has an enneagram wing. The only factor at play is the fact that the level and intensity of influence may vary owing to individual differences in terms of personal experiences, exposure, environment, etc. It is also possible for one wing to be more dominant than the other because situationally, you have had the opportunity to explore and develop the characteristics associated with that type rather than the latter.

FAQ’s 

How does an enneagram work?

The enneagram is a theory of personality that illustrates each type as a combination of three different elements. The core type, the disintegration & integration sides and the wings. There are three centres – the instinctive centre, the feeling centre, and the thinking centre. Each type has a direction of integration (growth) and disintegration (stress) that indicates how their behaviour is guided in times of stress and growth.

Does everyone have an enneagram wing?

Yes, everyone has enneagram wings. Every personality type is assigned two wings that are directly adjacent to the number. But their level and extent of influence varies from person to person. This is because as a person, everyone goes through different circumstances and life experiences. Some may have had the opportunity to explore their complementary skills and some may have not. So naturally, the extent to which the wings may be functional and/or influential varies.

Which enneagram type is the rarest?

Enneagram 8s are the rarest of all enneagram types. 8s are challengers and are said to have born leadership qualities. They enjoy challenging themselves and have enormous willpower and vitality. Some of the famous 8 personalities include Donald Trump, Pablo Picasso, & Indira Gandhi.

Which Enneagram type is the smartest?

Type 5’s are probably the smartest of all on the enneagram list owing to the unique emotional mental capabilities. They fall under the thinking category which naturally makes them problem solvers. They are always intrigued to know more about the things around them and do it in a very subtle manner. They do not show off and understand that their knowledge is their treasure. They are also fairly secretive and like to not engage in small talk much.

References 

https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/interpreting-your-enneagram-test-results#:~:text=remain%20the%20same.-,Wings,necessarily%20that%20of%20the%20wing.

https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/how-the-enneagram-system-works

https://www.truity.com/blog/guide-enneagram-wings-what-are-they-all-about

https://www.truity.com/test/enneagram-personality-test

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/enneagram-wings

https://theenneagraminbusiness.com/theory/enneagram-theory-enneagram-wings/

https://www.quora.com/Is-it-possible-to-have-an-Enneagram-type-without-a-wing

https://www.integrative9.com/enneagram/wings-lines-integration/

http://enneagramuserguide.com/enneagram-tests/type-wing

https://www.crystalknows.com/enneagram/type-1-wing-9

https://www.crystalknows.com/enneagram/type-1-wing-2

Divya is currently a Clinical Psychology Trainee in a Master of Philosophy program and holds a Master’s in clinical psychology. She has a special interest in Personality studies and disorders, having researched the subject before, and Neuropsychology; with an additional interest being Mood disorders. She likes to write about Psychiatric issues, having worked in multiple specialty setups during her time as a clinical psychology student, and in her free time she likes to cook and read.