The Power of Enneagram Panels

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Enneagram Panels help us gain valuable insight into the inner world of people who relate to a particular type. They are an essential feature of the Narrative tradition. A panel usually comprises a group of people who share the same type patterns.  During the panel these representatives of the type explore their patterns in an interactive way.  The audience is made up of people who wish to understand more about this type and also themselves in relation to the type. Many seek a better relationship with a partner, family member, friend or business colleague who lives with these patterns.

The panel begins with a grounding exercise led by the facilitator. This is valuable because we bring with us whatever has been going on in our lives during our day. These moments of checking in with ourselves allow everyone attending to leave their “stuff” aside and be fully present with an open mind, compassionate heart and grounded body.

Before opening up to the panel, the facilitator explains the main features of the type. Each of the panelists is then invited to describe how they recognise the patterns of this type in their daily lives. Because we each come from different backgrounds and life experiences, we “wear” our type in our own unique way. We tend to relate to some patterns of our type more than others. The panel illuminates the ways people of the same Enneagram type are similar and how they are different.

Panelists choose how much or how little they share of their lives. In order to create an atmosphere of trust and safety, everyone agrees at the beginning of the session to respect confidentiality. The privilege of entering into another’s inner world comes with the responsibility to respect that person’s privacy.

We learn more from panels than from any Enneagram book because we learn from the experts, the people who live with these type patterns every day. With many type descriptions the focus is on outward behaviour but panels enable us to see what goes on beneath the surface.  We witness the energy, the nonverbal manifestation of the type. We hear what is important to them and why, where their attention tends to go, what their particular view of reality is. We begin to understand what drives this type. It’s often difficult for those new to the Enneagram to understand the passions (emotional habits) and fixations (mental habits) but listening to a panel demonstrates the myriad ways they show up in everyday life. For example the word “sloth” really comes alive when we hear those with Type Nine patterns describe its impact on daily life.

Understanding brings compassion. When we gain insight into the underlying motivation behind behaviours, the struggles the type contends with, the wonderful gifts they bring to the world, we become less judgemental and more appreciative. We are touched by what we hear.  It becomes clear that no type is any better or worse than another, and that each of us is on a journey of discovery. Being truly present allows us to observe our own reactions to those on the panel, and so gain unique insight into how we respond to others.

Participating in a panel benefits the panelists too.  They feel less alone realising that others share their experience of life. For a six to hear another six share their preoccupation with safety and security is strangely comforting.  One person’s comments may make sense of an aspect another has been struggling with or unaware of. It was only when I heard a Six describe projection that I truly understood what it meant. By gaining greater awareness around our patterns, we learn to loosen their hold.

The facilitator may invite the audience to ask questions of the panelists at the end of the session. People might use this opportunity to gain advice on how to better relate to a person of that type in their life, or for further clarification on something that was discussed during the panel.

It’s such a joy to facilitate panels. I gain fresh insights every time.  I’m always amazed by the self-awareness, honesty and courage of the participants and also by the compassion and appreciation of the audience. Every panel is different and every panel brings something new.

Panels can be face to face or online.  Phyllis Jordan is another Enneagram teacher trained in the Narrative tradition. Each month Phyllis and I join together to host an Enneagram panel online. Everyone with an interest in deepening their understanding of people is welcome to join us. Tickets must be purchased in advance and proceeds go to charity. If you would like to experience the power of panels please email me to join the mailing list.