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Along the Journey  |  

How do I listen to others?

“How do I listen to others?

“As if everyone were my master speaking to me their cherished last words.” Hafiz


For those of us who offer spiritual companioning, coaching, therapy, or pastoral care, we spend a good bit of time listening to others and asking questions.

Over the years, the Enneagram has been foundational in shaping my listening as well as my questions.

First and foremost, the Enneagram Map indicates my own listening preferences and my preferred communication style given my Enneagram type.

Secondly, when I know the Enneagram type my clients lead with, then the Enneagram Map alerts me to the patterns and inner narratives to listen for in others that may be creating stuck places and blind spots as well as driving unhealthy behaviors.


Additionally, knowing our clients’ Enneagram types, helps us to listen for those moments when they move beyond the ego’s patterns, going counter to automatic behaviors and begin birthing new neural pathways.

These are moments of celebration!

In this moment, pertinent questions may be “What resources within and beyond yourself supported you in being present enough to shift out of automatic?

How does this feel in your body when you are free from your patterns?”

Staying with the body’s memory of this new behavior allows this memory to become a resource to support the possibility of repeating this pattern-free posture.

Transformation must be embodied in order for insights to become new behaviors.

The container for alchemy/change is the body.


I’m using the term “lead with” to indicate that our type isn’t the whole story of us.

We lead with a type’s preferences and patterns, but there is a deeper self, our True Nature or Essence.

As Enneagram teacher Russ Hudson succinctly says, “Our type shows up when we don’t!”

When we aren’t present to ourselves, we easily move into our comfort zone of automatic responses.

There is no learning or growth in our comfort zones as we aren’t fully awake to ourselves.

We get lulled to sleep by the comfort of the familiar and we miss our lives.

Knowing our specific comfort zone is quite revealing and the power of the Enneagram lies in mapping out the inner workings of our ego that maintain this comfort!

This knowledge gives us the power to choose and the choice to shift into waking up to our lives.


Often, the Enneagram is mislabeled as a typing system.

While we must know which of the nine types we lead with in order to use the map, knowing our type is just the first step in our inner work.

Learning our type doesn’t change us.

Learning more about our type doesn’t change us.

What is foundational to our growth is understanding what motivates us and slants our perspective (Thank you Enneagram Map!) in order to create type-specific practices and strategies that, over time, supports us in living beyond the dictates of our ego structure.

The pairing of practices with the Map is the elixir that can free us.

I have come to believe that “waking up” to our lives is a way of praising the Holy One.


During the Lifelong Learning October series, the Enneagram and Accompaniment, we’ll explore a dimension of the Enneagram known as the Harmonics Triad and use it to hone our listening as we work with people.

In this triad the types are grouped into 1, 3, 5 and 2, 7, 9 and 4, 6, 8.

Each of these triads has several traits in common that are useful to know as we listen to others and support them in loosening fixed patterns and narratives.

For example, Enneagram types 1, 3, 5 are rational types.

When working with these types I listen for words relating to emotions and dive in there.

Usually, this is a helpful inquiry.


During our time together, participants will engage in group discussion and experiential exercises as we deepen our understanding of the nine Enneagram types.

This information will benefit professionals who work with individuals and couples.

We’ll learn from each other’s wisdom as we explore together.

Sandra Smith, MDiv

Certified Enneagram Consultant & Teacher

Spiritual Companion



Heart of the Enneagram Podcast





Along the Journey