Enneagram Five At Work

Who is the Enneagram Five at Work?

The Wise Person, The Observer, The Sage

You will find the Enneagram Five on the periphery of a room – watching – studying, rather –  others. Interacting with lots of people in large groups is not their ideal environment. They are oftentimes introverts; typically analytical, they can come across as emotionally detached. 

Excellent thinkers and strategists, Fives are relentless in accumulating knowledge and are highly motivated to know as much as they can. They love collecting knowledge and insight, and place a high value on wisdom and what their mind can do. Fives want to be competent, knowledgeable, and capable. They are great at helping teams and organizations with technical expertise. Fives want to be seen as competent, so they fear being caught without the needed information. 

Fives need lots of privacy and autonomy. They fear being depleted of their resources and energy inside. Their challenge is to be available to people when possible to communicate warmth and to recognize human assets beyond mental intelligence. 

They like work that keeps them solitary and that makes it possible for them to be in their minds. Meanwhile, they fear being obligated, intruded, or invaded.

Enneagram Five Strengths

Fives see clearly and dispassionately. They can sift through lots of ideas and come to objective conclusions, leaving their emotions and opinions out of it. Similarly, they are able to test out ideas without getting emotionally attached to the outcome. 

Good conceptual thinkers and great at holding mental concentration, Fives drill deep about a topic until they know everything about it. Because they go so deep, they can find connections between data and information that others can’t find. 

In the workplace, they have great respect for people’s autonomy & personal boundaries; similarly, they want you to respect theirs.

Enneagram Five Weaknesses

Fives are the least connected with their emotions of all the Enneagram Types; consequently, they can become disconnected and cynical. If there are emotions flowing at work, they will seek to hide from the turbulence either physically or mentally. If they can’t leave the room, they’ll escape into their heads. 

It’s not uncommon for fives to be collectors-turned-hoarders if they’re not careful. What they collect could be information, physical things, or hoard themselves- their time, energy, and space. 

Fives tend not to be generous with letting people know who they are, which presents as skepticism. In the office, they may wonder, “Why would you (colleague) want to know what I did over the weekend? My weekend life has nothing to do with work.” Fives are able to compartmentalize their lives very neatly. 

Fives can be greedy with their internal resources. Their baseline energy is low, even in the morning, so they have to ration it out. If you office with a five, keep in mind that people deplete them. Fives are constantly evaluating their “people energy” and making choices about how they spend their time based on the energy requirements related to tasks. 

A Five in an unhealthy space can be condescending. They will use knowledge as a defense against their private belief that they are inept or inadequate. A NON-self-aware five would weaponize knowledge in order to feel “better than” the person who doesn’t have the knowledge.

How to Support an Enneagram Five at Work

A Five’s internal needs feel like the weight of a boulder, weighing them down. They long to know that their needs are not a problem. Meanwhile, the gift they can offer others is to be the observers of the world. They love to take concepts and ideas and break them down into small parts, then use those parts to create something new and better. Their minds are vast and they have an impressive breadth of knowledge. 

Here’s how you can support the Five’s gifts at work: 

  1. Give them space and privacy. Do not put a Five in an open floor plan office. If you must do so, expect to see them in earbuds. 
  2. Don’t take up all the space with a conversation. Silence does not bother a Five. When you pose a question, it may take them a moment to respond because they are going through the topic in their vast mental catalog. Allow them the time they need to respond and, if necessary, to access their emotions. 
  3. Give them as much info. as possible before a meeting. They don’t want to be caught off guard. The meeting agenda is important to them in their goal of avoiding surprises. They want to come prepared to offer their best. 
  4. Get to know a Five’s interests and passions. Saying, “Tell me about your interests” will help them feel seen and appreciated. This will give you an opportunity to connect and to get them talking to you. If you want to get a Five talking, find a topic that you know they are interested and competent in that excites their brain; then, expect them to talk extensively. 
  5. Respect their boundaries. they don’t want someone to come into their space and initiate a meeting with no notice. It’s better to give them a heads up so they can finish what they’re doing and shift their (very deep) focus. 
  6. Incentivize a Five by telling them they can be alone. Give them a task- they’ll get it done, as long as they don’t get lost in the research. They will respond well to guidance such as: “Take your laptop and go work at Starbucks.”  Give them the space to work in solitude and allow them control over how much contact they have with people in the course of the day. 
  7. Stand a foot farther back with a Five than you would with a Two. Give them a lot of private space. 
  8. Do not pat a Five on the shoulder. They tend not to be tactile people. 
  9. Don’t pry into their personal lives. In contrast to a Two or a Four, don’t ask them about their emotional life, per se; instead, say: tell me about your interests. Talking to them about their interests makes them feel valued and important and seen. 

    Do You Love Learning About The Enneagram?

    I do, too! The more that we learn about ourselves, the more grace we have when the going gets tough. I created this free guide, “My 7 Favorite Enneagram Resources”, as a way for you to further your learning. Grab your FREE download now!

    Personal Growth Areas

    1. Extend yourself a little bit. Experiment in loosening your boundaries with the people you trust. Practice having an abundance mindset, whereby you will always have what you need despite what you choose to give away. Said differently: your generosity will not lead to lack. 
    2. Stay present in the moment when things get emotional. 
    3. Give insight as you process information rather than just your conclusions at the end of your process.

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