Ask the Enneagram Coach, Part 4

Ginger Lapid-Bogda’s The Enneagram in Business portal contains an “Ask the Coach” feature, where a coach of each Type answers the same question about coaching, to give a flavor of the different possible perspectives. Ginger asked me to be the Type 9 – or Peacemaker – representative on this panel. Here’s my answer to the fourth question in the series.

Question 4: What coaching techniques work really well with clients of your style and why? What coaching techniques do not work well with clients of your style and why?

My answer: A good strategy is to give us some time and space to answer questions. We’re busy sorting through all perspectives, so although it’s not obvious, quite  a lot is going on beneath the surface. This strategy needs to balanced against the chance that we’ll drift into a reverie; it can help, if you encourage us to report on the internal negotiation of perspectives that usually takes place before we deliver an answer. A coaching model like the Inner Team can be helpful here, since it puts a name on the different parts of the inner conversation and gives both the coach and the client a chance to name what’s going on and who is currently contributing.

A tool like Lewin’s Force-field Analysis helps us to structure a problem and see outlines of a possible solution. Such structuring reduces considerably the overwhelming enormity of change. Just get the first one-and-a-half steps down well and we’ll get going. No need for a perfect plan.

If you want to know why mules take our correspondence courses, just try to interrupt us in mid-answer, or attempt  to force the pace. Zero progress and a healthy dose of passive-aggressiveness is guaranteed.

It is also less useful to use most of the models that force people to clarify their visions and goals. We are not great at articulating what we want.  It’s more productive to develop a “negative” of the goal: just ask us what we don’t want, flip each answer 180° and the goal becomes clear quickly. A Nine client was leading part of an Open space workshop where about ten people spent almost half a frustrating hour trying to help him define an improved interface between him and his suppliers. After turning the issue around, to what he didn’t like about the current interface, they had a complete definition from him within two minutes!

If you’d like to see the other eight answers to this question, head over to the Enneagram Learning Portal. If you’d like to share your answer to the question, or discuss my answer, please leave a comment or trackback.

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