Hello. Perhaps you’ve landed on this page because you’ve done an Online Enneagram Personality Test which has given you a Two as your main personality type, and now you’re scratching your head wondering what this means in terms of your self-development or therapy journey.
Are personality types no more than just a description of different traits – like a star sign? Or can a deeper understanding of our personality structure, or “self”, and the way it works at a psychological level, help us to play the game of life with a little bit more grace, and less suffering?
[Read more about Personality-Focused Psychotherapy]
One way to think about the Self is that it might work as a kind of Lens or “Operating System” through which our psyche (?) mind (?) “life force” (?) or “soul” (?) flows. Whenever we express a thought, or belief, or opinion about our lives and our struggles, it is usually the Self (an “I”) that is doing the talking for us:
I feel sad about…
I feel satisfied with life when…
I don’t understand why s/he said that…
I find this [thought/feeling/situation] painful to think about or deal with.
Of course we don’t normally think about these utterances as a “Self” talking through us, because it (we) are always just sort of here in the conscious experience of “I”, of Self, with its particular filter on the world always present. Like fish, we swim in the “waters” of Self, but are usually completely oblivious to what “water” actually is.
Therapy is perhaps an opportunity for us to look at, and work through the content of our experience, the different ways we might have filled the gaps above to describe what is going on in our lives, but also to pay a slightly different kind of attention to how our struggles are often being shaped or contained in a certain ways for us through this “Self”, or Ego, or “I”. Not in the negative sense of having a “big ego”, but simply in terms of this psychological “I”. Which is to say: our personality style, character, Ego, Self.
This is not our whole Being or Consciousness. We can also step back (as we often do, especially in therapy) and look at the Self from a more detached, less conflicted perspective. Maybe from the perspective of someone who cares for us, but also knows us really well. This perspective might also become one we develop in our relationship with that person (“me” or another therapist) who would like to accompany you and assist you with your journey into understanding, healing, and developing your Self.
Most of the time though, we experience our Selves either from either the perspective of an Inner Critic who tells us how we’re failing at Life (or how Life is failing us), or from the Driver’s Seat of our Core Self.
Whoever that Core Driving Self is (pick a number!) whoever is driving the bus –driving us to do the things we do, or make the choices we make– it clearly has a special way of operating. Others can often see, for better or worse, how we tend to operate, as we can also see their Selves at work in how they talk, think, and behave. In therapy, we can try to get to know this Core Self a bit better (as well as those of the people we’re in relationship with), and hopefully find out what we’re all about.
As you read about your Two “Self” below, a portrait that reveals both the light and shade of “you”, try not to judge your Self, or feel bad about how this Self comes across when laid out in this somewhat reductive, psychological way.
If reading through this portrait makes you feel a bit uncomfortable, ashamed, or exposed, that is a good sign, it really is.
This is certainly how I felt when I first read about my own personality style. “Am I really like that!?! Oh dear. Well, OK, for good or bad, that does seem to be how “I” roll… [sigh]”
This kind of response might perhaps indicate that we are gaining new insights, or at least a bit more humility about our Selves, especially when embarking on the kind of therapeutic search that you’re engaging with for your Self right now by reading and reflecting on this.
With insight, we can hopefully learn how to handle our Self/Selves a bit better in terms of how we deals with those generic but often unpleasant realities of life: physical and emotional pain, uncertainty, as well as the various forms of constant work, both inner and outer that we seek to fulfil. The Self is always the interface through which we learn how to do this, trying as best we can to put into practice the lessons we’ve learned.
1. SNAPSHOT OF A TWO: HOW MANY OF THESE TRAITS DO YOU IDENTIFY WITH?
If most or all of the following characteristics apply to you, you may have a predominantly Type Two personality style:
• You see your life (work, social and romantic connections, self-development) through the lens of your relationships. You think of your life as based on (and happening through) good relationships and seek influence through doing things to gain positive regard, admiration, and approval.
• You are motivated by pleasing, impressing, or wanting to support others. You work hard, and you want positive feedback that validates your efforts and reassures you that you are doing a good job. Helping seems like the quickest road to being liked and valued.
• You seek to excel so that the important people in your life will think well of you. It’s crucial for you to be appreciated by others—especially others you like or view as important, but also by people you don’t like.
• You believe you can make others like you. You make friends easily, know how to appeal to others, and take pride in the fact that you can win anyone over.
• You are able to relate well to a wide range of people. You’re confident you can establish rapport with anyone you seek to impress or connect with, regardless of rank or position.
• You find satisfaction in being supportive and helpful to others and may occasionally use this as an indirect way to get what you want or need. As you read this you may be thinking, I would never do that! However, you do think that giving should be mutual and reciprocal. It’s also easier for you to give than to receive, and while receiving can be awkward, you will often do things for others in the hope that they will like you or do something in return.
• You place a high value on being considerate, empathetic, and unselfish. You believe people like people who are easy to get along with. Making others feel comfortable feels natural and important, and it bothers you when others act selfishly or treat people badly.
• You can be emotional or oversensitive and will try to hide your feelings at work (and sometimes with others in personal relationships). While you may attempt to hide your emotions (even from yourself) to maintain others’ positive regard, sometimes you become so emotional that you can’t help expressing it. (Though if you are a guy, you may be more locked down emotionally.)
• You have a talent for sensing the feelings, needs, and preferences of others, but may be unclear on what you need or feel afraid to ask for it, lest you impose on others or risk rejection. This can lead to people feeling supported by you and appreciating you, but it can also lead to you over-giving and exhausting yourself to the point where you may resent others, especially those who fail to reciprocate.
• It can be hard for you to give candid (and especially critical) feedback. You empathize with others so much that you worry straightforward constructive criticism will make them feel bad.
• It bothers you (a lot) when someone doesn’t like you. You consider it important to always try to do your best and make things (and potentially yourself) more perfect so that people will evaluate you positively.
• You avoid conflict because you fear it will hurt your relationships, but you will at times feel relieved to get a problem out on the table so you can fix it. You may also have a hard time expressing contrary opinions because you fear they will alienate others. You may avoid confronting people or actively addressing conflict so that everyone can be happy again.
• You have a natural ability to see the good in others and can truly enjoy helping people manifest their potential. You can’t help loving it when you hear someone say, “We couldn’t have done it without you.” This usually comes out of an altruistic desire to help and produce positive results, but it can also be a way to assure your value in others’ eyes so you can feel good about yourself.
2. WHY AM I LIKE THIS? THE PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT OF A TWO
Here is a kind of “Origin Story” for this personality type:
Once upon a time, there was a person named Two. When she was young, she was a happy child, full of love and a deep sense of satisfaction in life. She loved people—and loved loving people. She felt a deep sense of love for herself and all the beings in the world. From birth, she had a beautiful emotional sensitivity and an especially strong need to feel loved and supported.
But as Two grew up, perhaps because of this trait, she experienced bad feelings when some of her needs weren’t met by the people around her. Sometimes when she was hungry, no one came to feed her. Sometimes when she got hurt, no one realized she needed comfort. And when she felt her deep need for love, she often felt that she did not receive it.
Two tried to find the love she needed by expressing love for the people around her. She tried to get them to take care of her by taking care of them. If she was very pleasing, helpful, and supportive of others, she thought, they would want to be very pleasing, helpful, and supportive of her. They might remember to take care of her.
To get the love she needed so much, Two found herself doing all she could to please the people in her world. The affection of others made her feel safe and helped her avoid feeling neglected. In her quest to be loved—or liked—she focused a great deal of energy on all her relationships. She created very positive connections with others. She listened to them. She expressed interest in them. She said funny things to entertain them. She always looked her best to impress them. She made them feel happy by giving them things they liked or needed— sometimes even before they knew they needed them. Two became quite good at pleasing people and even liked to do it most of the time, although it sometimes made her very tired.
Over time, Two’s desire to win people’s love made her extremely good at tuning in to what they were feeling. This helped her make them feel good so they would appreciate her and take care of her. She became very generous and giving because she saw that, when she gave people things, they liked her more. But she didn’t like to ask for anything for herself, because others might say “no,” and when that happened, she felt rejected. And feeling rejected was the opposite of feeling loved. Eventually, after years of trying to avoid the pain of not being loved, Two erased the memory of love almost completely.
Because Two was so good at doing things that pleased others, a lot of people did like her, and this made her feel important. But in focusing on everyone else’s needs, Two forgot all about her own needs—and sometimes her feelings. Eventually, she lost all awareness of her needs and feelings. All she ever did was seek approval from others. Driven by her unconscious need to be appreciated, she even started to control and manipulate others, because sometimes she had to make them see how important she was. She became really good at imposing her will on others in ways they didn’t realize, because she disguised herself so well as a nice, generous, and selfless person.
Two’s survival strategies came to rule her life. She completely forgot about the original need for love that had driven her to please others. She sometimes felt a vague sense of satisfaction when they approved of her, but it went away quickly, leaving her even hungrier for more. She tried to meet everyone’s needs, even when she was completely exhausted. She shape-shifted into a different person every time she wanted someone’s approval and she couldn’t say “no” to anyone. Her need to be liked and important became insatiable, and in trying to be whatever she had to be to get people to like her, she lost all memory of her true self.
Occasionally, when someone did offer Two genuine love, she didn’t even realize it was happening. By learning to settle for small bits of attention, appreciation, and approval, she had deadened herself to her own larger needs and deeper feelings—and cut herself off from her self and her ability to receive what she wanted the most. This made her totally unable to take in anything good from others, including the love she had wanted in the first place. What to do?
Early on in life, Twos come to believe that love and approval are contingent upon them doing things for people, acting nice, or being who others want them to be. They sometimes have a history of being told that they are “too sensitive” or “too much” or “too emotional,” which proves to them that their needs are too much for others or that they must suppress their needs and emotions to be liked.
Motivated by the desire to create positive connections with people, Twos’ coping strategy involves sensing and meeting others’ needs, pleasing others, and presenting themselves as likable to gain the affection and approval of others. They become adept at emphasizing parts of themselves they think people they want to impress will like and downplaying the parts they think will interfere with establishing a connection. They worry about the potential disapproval of others and so try to appear attractive and pleasant so people will want to be around them.
Twos are at their most relaxed and happy when they know others like them or approve of what they are doing or want to connect with them. They read the people they interact with to sense what they like and then try to become what they like to create a positive impression and a friendly rapport. They avoid rejection (which feels intolerable) through being pleasing and easy to be with and not asking too much of people. They tend to gravitate to people they regard as important and become indispensable to those individuals in the hope they will return the favor and meet their needs in a reciprocal fashion. This strategy helps them to get their needs met without having to ask directly (which opens them up to the risk of rejection).
The strategy of presenting themselves in a way that will please others focuses Twos’ attention on other people. They have an automatic and finely tuned radar for picking up the subtle signals that reveal people’s moods and preferences, and they use this skill to decide how to manage the impression they are making to ensure they are liked. Often without even thinking about it, they adjust their presentation to match what they believe other people want or need them to be. This focus on shape-shifting to orchestrate positive relationships may be so deeply ingrained in the Twos’ way of being that they may not even be aware they are doing it.
At work, but also at home, Twos focus attention on the “people” aspect —how they can best collaborate with, support, and contribute to what people in the organization, or their families, friendship groups are doing. Whatever their title or position may be, they focus not only on the work at hand, but also how work tasks and processes affect people, and they have a talent for doing all they can to make sure the relational aspects of work go smoothly.
As a result, Twos can be extremely productive, especially if they like the people they work with. But focusing so much of their attention on other people and attuning so completely to what others are feeling, wanting, or needing means Twos may have no idea what they themselves are feeling, wanting, or needing.
3. CORE MOTIVATIONS OF A TYPE TWO PARTICIPANT: WHAT “DRIVES” A TWO?
Generally, individuals with a Type Two style want to keep other people happy and improve the experience of their fellow humans. They sincerely like people and usually want to see the best in others (unless they have a reason not to), and when they don’t, they are really good at acting like they do. Most of the time, they enjoy interacting with others—they are the “people people” of the social world.
Twos tend to think they need to make everyone like them (by force, if necessary). They believe that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who like them, and those who don’t know them well enough yet to know that they like them. They feel confident that they are just one charm offensive away from winning everyone over. Twos have many weapons at their disposal to create a positive impression; however, when they fail to forge an alliance or inadvertently piss someone off, they will feel extremely bothered and get self-critical and obsessively second-guess themselves. They tend to look outside themselves to decide how they should feel about things (including themselves), and can think: If you like me, I’m okay, but if you don’t like me, there’s something wrong with me. In the psychology business we might describe this as having an “external locus of control.”
Twos believe in reciprocal giving—I scratch your back, you scratch mine—even if this is not always conscious. They believe everyone should help others out and have a hard time saying “no,” even to things they don’t want to do. They focus more on the people around them than themselves and then have an expectation that others will focus their attention on supporting them. Sometimes this goes well, like when they are generous, selfless, and fun-loving companions and the relationship is mutual. Sometimes it can go badly, like when they neglect themselves and then blame you because you took up so much of their time and attention and didn’t give back (even though you didn’t ask them—or want them—to give you so much).
4. TWOS AT WORK AND IN RELATIONSHIPS
Strategic help to create indispensability. Giving for Twos isn’t always altruistic (though they may want to think it is). It can be a strategy to ensure their position or power or influence. The more you need them, the more secure they feel in the knowledge you won’t be able to exclude them.
Charm and warmth. Much of the time, Twos will be exceedingly nice because they feel motivated to be liked and accepted and to avoid rejection of any kind. Their charming presentation is usually sincere and authentic, and when it isn’t, they might not be aware that they are being false because they are programmed to believe it’s good to be nice.
Empathy and emotional sensitivity. Twos often readily feel what others are feeling and are willing to listen and offer emotional support without being asked. However, the emotional sensitivity that makes them good friends and partners can also make them take things personally or feel offended when no offense is intended.
Relationship-oriented. Relationships are front and center on the Type Two view screen and nurturing important relationships is their top priority. The saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” conveys their belief that work gets done through relationships.
Other-oriented. Twos pay more attention to what’s going on with other people than what might be going on inside themselves. This means they may be more aware of how you are feeling and what you need than how they are feeling and what they need.
Self-elevation and self-deflation. Believing they need to be all things to all people means Twos may unknowingly walk around with an inflated sense of who they are and what they can do. If this elevated sense gets punctured by negative feedback, they can feel very hurt, believe they have failed to convey a positive sense of themselves, and may go to the other end of the spectrum and feel quite deflated and bad about themselves.
Giving with the expectation of reciprocity. Twos usually believe they give to others without expecting anything in return; in reality, sometimes this is true and sometimes it isn’t. Because they are sensitive to rejection, asking someone to meet their needs can feel humiliating, so, Twos sometimes (unconsciously) “give to get.” They get generous hoping others will reciprocate and give them what they need without them having to ask directly.
5. UNDERSTANDING WHY TWOS THINK, FEEL, AND BEHAVE THE WAY THEY DO
Because the Type Two outlook is about forming and enjoying mutually supportive relationships, Twos spend time thinking and strategizing about impression management, the achievement of positive connections, and whether people like them. While they can apply just as much intellectual focus to work tasks as others, the people around them and the important people in their lives are regularly in their thoughts. When they focus mental attention on doing a good (or great) job, this is often motivated by the desire to look good to specific people they want to impress or inspire.
Although they sometimes hold back their feelings so their emotions don’t repel people they want to attract, Twos are essentially very emotional people. One of three “heart-based types” within the Enneagram system, they tend to react emotionally to things, whether they show it in the moment. People with a Type Two personality style tend to be happy people who may repress their negative feelings to get along with others. They may think that sharing their real feelings of anger or sadness may alienate people who may not be comfortable with shows of emotion, and so they may feel more emotions on the inside than they reveal on the outside. And while Twos tend to be genuinely upbeat people who try to lift the general mood, they often feel sad underneath, as they may be aware of the ways they fall short in their efforts to be liked or appreciated by others. They can also be angry and resentful, especially when people they have supported do not support them in return.
Twos work hard to prove their worth and gain acceptance and approval. They can be driven to support others’ success, to accomplish and achieve for their own sense of satisfaction, and to look good to people who matter. Twos tend to “merge” with others and can feel so connected to or aligned with people they care about that that they can share in (or over-empathize with) their emotional experience. They may work very hard to please their boss or support a favourite coworker, their best friend, or their spouse or children. Since they have a hard time saying “no,” they often overwork in an effort to meet all the needs of the people around them. They may also act to orchestrate experiences for others—either to connect people they like, or provide positive experiences for other people, or (and this is a big blind spot for Twos) manipulate someone into giving them something they want, but don’t want to ask for directly (because they fear rejection).
6. WHAT YOU ARE REALLY GOOD AT AS A TWO
Energetically supporting others. Twos can move mountains to help their allies be successful in the things they do.
Empathically understanding others feelings, needs, and experiences. Twos excel at being right there to give you exactly what you need right when you need it. They really do feel your pain as well as your triumphs along with you.
Service orientation. Twos automatically attune to their audience and have a strong ethic about the value of selfless service. A team that lacks Twos may have a blind spot when it comes to taking full account of the needs of their customers.
Having fun and lifting the mood. Twos think, “What better way to have fun with people and make them want to be around you than to be fun to be around?”
Orchestrating positive experiences and connections to please others. Twos enjoy being the person who connects people, the host of a great party, or the supporter someone couldn’t have succeeded without. They like doing powerful things behind the scenes—that way they won’t get blamed if things don’t go well and they can express their people power in subtle, less risky ways.
Appreciating what’s best in others. Twos feel enlivened when called upon to help people manifest their gifts and leverage their strengths to be happier and more successful.
However, as for all of us, our greatest strengths can also trip us up at times. If Type Twos overuse their biggest strengths (and don’t consciously develop a wider range of skills), they can also turn out to be their Achilles’ heel. Let’s see how this can happen.
Energetically supporting others’ efforts. Doing too much can leave Twos feeling exhausted, overburdened, and resentful of the people they support for taking up all their time, energy, and attention.
Empathically understanding others’ feelings, needs, and experiences. It’s so easy for Twos to “feel your pain” that they may feel yours more than they can feel their own.
Service orientation. Too much focus on meeting others’ needs can mean Twos overlook important elements of the bigger picture or neglect their own needs and opinions. When less self-aware, Twos’ “selfless service” can lead to playing the martyr if they don’t receive the support they want from others.
Having fun and lifting the mood. Feeling like they have to put on a happy face to make others feel good, even when they don’t feel particularly happy, is a recipe for self-abandonment and resentment.
Working hard to orchestrate positive experiences and connections. Twos can go too far to enhance others’ experiences and not attend to the quality of their own—or those of other people they aren’t focusing on as important.
Appreciating what’s best in others. Twos’ tendency to support or appreciate what others do well can make it hard for them to provide honest feedback about what needs improvement—they can sugarcoat the truth to the point where they can’t deliver critical feedback at all.
7. HEALTHY vs. UNHEALTHY TWOs
When stressed to the point of going to their “Low Side,” Type Twos can finally get angry that they have spent so much time, attention, and energy giving others what they need that they haven’t gotten anything they need. They may have been (unconsciously) hoping that focusing on others’ needs would somehow eventually lead to those others focusing on their needs, but bitter experience eventually shows them that this often doesn’t happen. And at that point, cracks appear in the usually ultra-friendly Two’s façade—while the people around the Two are often mystified by their distress, because the Two never actually asked for what they needed. Instead, they’re so accustomed to “reading” others for clues to what they need and rushing in to provide it that Twos assume other people will do the same thing for them.
Type Twos on the Low Side can express resentment (After all I’ve done for you, you treat me like this?), can get controlling and bossy (as opposed to hinting or being overly polite and indirect about what they think you should do), or they can punish others by withdrawing their support entirely (Let’s see how you do now without my help!). They may believe they know what’s good for you better than you do and may become irritated if you don’t take their advice or acknowledge and appreciate them for their efforts. They may also become highly manipulative, secretly forcing things to go the way they want them to without recognizing what they do is manipulation.
On the “High Side,” when Type Two leaders do the work of becoming more self-aware and conscious of their habitual patterns, they can be diplomatic, authentically generous, and deeply supportive—without expecting anything in return. At their healthiest, Twos do for others simply because it’s the right thing to do, or it feels great to provide just the right kind of support, or because it’s what the person or team or organization needs to succeed.
Emotionally intelligent Twos know who they are and feel good about themselves, so they don’t rely so much on being affirmed by others. When they stop denying their own needs in an effort to win others over, they can take care of themselves instead of subconsciously expecting others to do it. Self-aware Twos learn how to get their own needs met, understand how to have healthy boundaries with others, and don’t have to make other people happy as an indirect way of inspiring reciprocity. Healthy Twos retain their emotional sensitivity and deep commitment to others, but don’t abandon themselves in the effort to create rapport with others. When they give, they give from the heart.
8. THE THREE KINDS OF TWO: HOW OUR THREE INSTINCTUAL BIASES SHAPE OUR PERSONALITY STYLE
According to the Enneagram model, we all have three main instinctual drives that help us survive, but in each of us, one tends to dominate our behaviour. The Type Two style is expressed differently depending on whether a person has a bias toward self-preservation, social relationships within groups, or one-to-one bonding.
The Self-Preservation (or Self-Focused) Two
Self-Preservation Twos lead with charm and sweetness. They can be more fearful and mistrustful than the other Twos, which makes them more hesitant to own their power, more guarded with others, and more shy and adaptable. They appear youthful, playful, and enthusiastic, tend to be fun-loving and self-indulgent, and may also be more ambivalent about connecting with others and more irresponsible if they feel incapable or overwhelmed. These Twos can be quite emotional (though they will try not to express feelings at work) and can be oversensitive and take things too personally. And while they can be very capable and competent, they are less willing to “take charge” and less comfortable being the leader or “the authority.”
While all Twos feel compelled to take care of others as a way of inspiring mutual bonds of affection, the Self-Preservation Two often expresses a greater need (that runs counter to the focus on others)—sometimes in hidden or indirect ways—to be taken care of by other people. This makes them the “counter-type” subtype of the three kinds of Twos. This (often unconscious) desire to be supported by others can take a more benign form, like needing help to figure out how to do something, or a more serious form, like neglecting their own welfare—all stemming from an unconscious hope that someone else will step in and provide resources or material support (so that they don’t have to). And while these Twos will want to be seen as strong and independent and hard-working, they may also be more tentative when it comes to “stepping up to the plate,” or taking an active role in leading projects and exerting power in a decisive way to get things done.
As leaders, Self-Preservation Twos pride themselves on being able to relate to people at every level of the organization. They excel at doing the planning and strategizing necessary for making sure the work gets done in a structured way that succeeds and are humble when it comes to getting credit for their contributions and leadership. However, these Twos may feel more at ease in support roles and show less pride at being at the top of an organization. They often need to learn how to access and exert power and leadership in concrete ways, and may have mixed feelings about being in the spotlight and getting attention. They will likely be deeply gratified by positive feedback, but may struggle to take it in and let it feed their sense of competence and power. At their best, they will seek to support people through sincere expressions of friendliness and helpfulness and try to make work fun and enjoyable.
The Social (or Group-Focused) Two
In contrast to the Self-Preservation Two, the Social Two is more of a leader type. This Two is the “Power Two” who gravitates toward leadership roles and likes to be in charge of making things happen. They can often be found in high-level executive positions or as small business owners or entrepreneurs.
Social Twos tend to be ambitious and enjoy being influential. They seek to be seen as super-competent and capable of taking on and succeeding at any task or project. They like to feel their power in groups, to take the lead to see things are done the way they should be done and that the right people are being supported. Highly strategic thinkers, they excel at making things happen through their give-and-take relationships with people. Others may experience them as controlling and manipulative, but in their view, they may believe they are just “being strategic” or “getting things done behind the scenes” when they trade favors to win support or maneuver behind the scenes to attain a power position. They may believe they know how things should be done better than other people and so will take on a lot of work and produce a lot—and want to tell others what to do and how to do it.
As leaders, Social Twos tend to be decisive, visionary, and committed to the organization and its people. They feel comfortable in leadership positions and will work diligently to win over the crowd. Savvy and strategic when it comes to solving problems through leveraging the right relationships, Social Twos enjoy the power that comes with being the boss and will be very supportive of people who support them or provide something they need. They can appear magnanimous and warm on the outside, but may be more focused on their individual success than they appear. And while they may show vulnerability as a way of connecting with others, they may not really be as vulnerable as they look (or intend to look). At their best, Social Twos act in bold ways to do ambitious things by mixing a clear reading of what’s needed in the situation with a deep understanding of the people involved.
The One-to-One (or relationship-focused) Two
One-to-One Twos focus their energy and attention on being appealing to others and creating mutually supportive relationships, one at a time. They generate a lot of forward momentum in moving toward people and presenting themselves in an attractive way to others so that others will want to be connected to them. They can also be highly emotional, but this may take the form of expressing their opinions forcefully, taking the lead in having fun or organizing social events, or lobbying passionately in support of important others.
A naturally emotional and vibrant person, the One-to-One Two brings a lot of energy and a sense of fun and excitement to interpersonal interactions. When they want to befriend someone, they can turn on the charm and impress the other person with their generosity and their attention. Good at reading people, they can pick up on the clues about what someone likes and “become that” as a way of engineering positive rapport or allegiance. However, when the object of this Two’s pursuit doesn’t respond in the way the Two would like, the Two find this frustrating. They may turn up the volume on the charm offensive even higher, or may become angry and insistent.
As leaders, One-to-One Twos will focus on aligning themselves with key colleagues and making sure they have the support of people they like and respect. They tend to prioritize relationships generally and focus a considerable amount of their attention on the people they regard as the most important to their success or the success of the team or organization. However, while One-to-One Twos may have favorite people within the organization, they will bring passion and emotional intensity to everything they do. They will seek to charm specific individuals so that they will know they can count on them when they need them. They may also act on impulse and get carried away if they feel excited by a particular idea or plan. When conscious and self-aware, One-to-One Twos can make big things happen, motivated by their deep caring for others and their energetic commitment to working with others for the benefit of the people they are connected to.
9. HOW TWOS MIGHT STRUGGLE IN WORK AND RELATIONSHIPS: STRESS-POINTS & TRIGGERS
See if some of the things I often hear my Type Two clients saying resonate with you?
- If I don’t get any feedback or affirmation, I can feel anxious and uncertain because I don’t know where I stand.
- They don’t try to read me, figure out what I need, and meet my needs (without my having to ask) in the way I do for others.
- When something happens that makes me angry or upset it can be difficult for me to contain my feelings or just get over it, but I also worry people will judge me for being too emotional.
- I can feel burdened by meeting others’ needs, but at the same time, I have a hard time knowing how to create boundaries or say “no.” I often take on more than I can handle because it’s easier to just do it myself than do the hard work of saying “no.”
- It bothers me when people are inconsiderate and don’t take other peoples’ feelings into account, or when the corporate culture doesn’t value team cohesion, loyalty, and putting people first.
- Sometimes I don’t feel free to do whatever I want because I worry so much about what others will think.
- I can feel very hurt when people don’t recognize me for my efforts or include me in social outings.
Type Two Personalities Can Become Triggered…
- When people put their own self-interest above that of others.
- When people do things without considering how it will impact other people.
- When people give negative feedback without also providing positive feedback.
- When people don’t reciprocate when I’ve done so much for them.
- When people withhold information and don’t let me know where I stand.
- When people leave me out of meetings or social gatherings that I’d like to be included in.
- When managers patronize other people or treat others with disrespect.
- When people don’t work as hard as I do—or when others ask for or take vacations they haven’t earned.
- When people won’t listen to me or take my advice.
- When people insult or personally attack me or other people.
- When people haven’t done their part or have been lazy about their work and then I have to work harder to do what they should have done.
- When people take advantage of my flexibility and generosity.
Here are some ways that others can sometimes struggle when being in relationship with a Two:
- You seem angry or upset, but you aren’t saying anything.
- You work hard (either for the relationship, or for the team), but then might act a little bit like a martyr and resent others for not working as hard as you do, or giving as much as you do.
- You sometimes believe that you can do it all yourself—but then get resentful that you are doing so much and others aren’t helping (even while actively rejecting offers of help).
- You might become obsessed with winning over the one person in the office who doesn’t like you (even if he doesn’t like anybody).
- You might struggle to deliver negative feedback or tolerate bad behaviour where it is not helpful to do so.
- You might have a hard time being honest and direct about what isn’t working for you (in relationships, or at work), but you probably will vent about it to others.
- You may act friendly and believe you are open and receptive to people, but have walls up out of a fear you won’t be liked, or will be rejected in some way.
10. SELF-MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES THAT TWOS MIGHT WANT TO WORK ON IN THERAPY
Responsibility. Taking less responsibility for managing how others feel and more responsibility for your own needs and feelings.
Boundaries. Managing boundaries with more awareness. Learn that it’s okay to say “no” and expend more energy on your own priorities and less on others.
Welcome but moderate emotions. Accepting your emotional nature as a strength, but also learning what you need to do for yourself to have your feelings, process them, channel them with awareness, rein them in when necessary, express them in conscious ways, and let them go when appropriate.
Letting go of your need to be indispensable. Developing your sense of self-worth so you don’t need to be needed by others to prove your value.
Building confidence in yourself. Learning to value yourself more from the inside so you don’t need so much validation and approval from the outside to know you are okay (or fantastic). Owning your power and authority in conscious ways.
Learning to become conscious of false pride (when you think you need to be better than you are to be appreciated) and aiming for humility—knowing and feeling good about exactly who you are and not seeing yourself as more or less than who you essentially are.
Learning to become conscious of when you over-give such that you can offer support appropriately on the outside and give more to yourself on the inside.
Learning to recognize when you are exhausting yourself through your efforts to prove your worth to others and develop a deeper awareness of your personal value and qualities aside from what you do for others.
Learning to be aware of any fear of dependence you might feel and develop your ability to receive (and really take in!) love, support, appreciation, and acceptance.
Learning to be aware of avoiding certain emotions and develop an ability to embrace your emotional nature and deploy it for good.
Learning to be more conscious of any negative beliefs you hold on to about yourself and own your competence, beauty, and power, and try to embrace what’s really true.
11. LIFE-TRAPS THAT TWOs MIGHT WANT TO WORK ON IN THERAPY
“Giving-to-get” (and how giving can be about control). Twos often think they like to give in a generous, selfless way without expecting anything in return. While this is often true, sometimes Twos give as a strategy to get people to like them or to get something they need or to exert control. But many Twos may not be aware that their own denied needs may motivate their offers of help or support—especially because receiving can feel awkward and uncomfortable. It’s very important for Twos to become conscious of their potentially hidden motives related to giving and helping so they can learn to ask for what they need directly.
Manipulating things to get what you want without having to ask. When I work with Twos, they usually relate to much of the description of the Type Two personality—until we get to the part about Twos being manipulative. But if we think about the definition of “manipulate” as a more benign shifting things around behind the scenes for a particular purpose, this word does describe what Twos often do. Out of a desire to avoid rejection, they try to get what they want indirectly by orchestrating what’s happening on the down-low to meet their needs in a covert way.
What you are feeling and needing in the moment? Twos often lose contact with how they are really feeling because others’ feelings seem more important. While Twos can be very emotional, they can also unconsciously avoid their feelings as a way of aligning with others. When Twos deny their own needs in favor of proving their value through meeting others’ needs, their unacknowledged needs will inevitably leak out in their behavior in ways they don’t see. This may lead others to perceive Twos as needy—the absolute last thing a Two wants to be! So it will be good for them to consciously focus on their own needs to avoid this troubling scenario.
The presence and causes of sadness or anger. Twos may not notice how they really feel because they naturally lean toward being in a happy mood. Most people want to be around people who are upbeat and pleasant, so Twos endeavour to be just that. However, beneath their perky exteriors, Twos often harbour feelings of sadness (and can feel depressed) because people may not regard them as highly as they would like them to, or they may believe people appreciate them for what they give and not for who they are. Also, Twos can deplete themselves by giving too much and then get resentful that others don’t take care of them the way they take care of others.
Dependence on others. Twos like to believe that they don’t need or rely on others the way others rely on them. And while this may be true to an extent, it also represents a way that Twos tend to lie to themselves. We all need people, but because Twos may have had a history of being hurt by people they depended on, they want to believe they don’t need anyone.
Blind spot: self-elevation and self-deflation. Twos usually don’t recognize the way they may need to see themselves as better than they are to impress and attract others or the way they feel bad about themselves when they fail to impress and attract others. They have a kind of false pride about all they can do and be for others that leads to a puffed up self-image and can feel humiliated when the puff gets popped.
12. WHERE TO START WHEN FOCUSING ON YOUR OWN “TYPE TWO STUFF”? STRENGTHS TO LEVERAGE, AND ENQUIRY QUESTIONS FOR TYPE TWO CLIENTS
You can start your therapy journey right now by noticing the following behaviours when they crop up for you.
Noticing when the habit of meeting others’ needs can go beyond simple generosity and become too much—or even intrusive. How and why do you tune in to the needs and feelings of others? How aware are you of your own feelings and needs?
Observing your connection to your emotions: When are you more aware or less aware of how you are feeling? What kinds of feelings do you tend to feel more often and less often?
Noticing when you are overempathizing with others and not taking your own feelings and needs into account.
How comfortable are you asking for help? What happens when you need help but don’t ask for it?
Noticing when you need everyone to like you and the consequences of that. Notice what kinds of things you do to ensure others like you. Notice what happens when you aren’t sure if someone likes you or you get the message that someone is not happy with you.
Noticing when you shape-shift to adapt to others and lose touch with who you are and what you need and want.
Observing what happens when you want to say “no” but you say “yes.” What thoughts and feelings are behind this? How comfortable are you saying “no”?
Strengths for Twos to Leverage In Their Therapy Journey and Life In General
It helps Twos to be aware of, actively pay attention to, fully own, and leverage:
Your natural ability to empathize with others’ feelings. Understanding how others feel and focusing on the emotional impact of things on other people allow Twos to be powerful advocates, considerate collaborators, and loving human beings. Since “being emotional” can still get a bad rap in the workplace, it’s important for Twos to own their sensitivity as a strength.
Your dedication to nurturing relationships and taking impact on people into account. Twos often play an unsung role at work in understanding the importance of knowing how to relate to others and nurture working relationships. In many corporate environments work tasks are often prioritized above relating, so it helps Twos to recognize and value the work they do to establish, maintain, and improve relationships.
• Your willingness to work hard. Type Threes often get most of the credit for being “hard workers,” but Twos also bust their asses to get work done. The difference is, where Threes get motivated by looking successful, winning, and getting to the goal, Twos want their efforts to have a positive impact on others.
• Your interest and skillfulness in collaborating with others. Twos genuinely like the process of teaming with others, and feel an inherent enjoyment in working with people to achieve common goals. They bring a great deal of enthusiasm, positive energy, and commitment to the things they do on a team.
• Your generosity in giving to others. Much of the time, when Twos give, they have the best of intentions to support and uplift others. They tend to be unselfish, thoughtful, and considerate.
The Kinds 0f Enquiry Questions I Might Ask A Two Who Is Feeling Challenged By Work/Relationships, Or Some Other Kind of Suffering:
How and why do you lose touch with yourself when you are trying to please important others?
Why is it so important to be liked? What do you do to ensure others think well of you? What happens when someone doesn’t like you?
Why is it hard to give honest feedback to others without sugarcoating any criticisms you might have? What are you afraid of when you avoid offering coworkers a candid assessment of how things are going?
How and why do you “shape-shift” to align with others? What motivates you to alter your presentation depending on who you are with?
Why is it hard to ask for help? What do you fear might happen?
Overall, Type Two Personalities can fulfill their higher potentials by observing and working against their habit of focusing so much of their attention on others and learn to tune into their own feelings, needs, and wants. When they begin to value their own contributions more consciously, they can balance out their sincere caring for others with a greater degree of self-support. When they can lean into their higher capacity for validating who they are from the inside—for valuing themselves for who they are and not for how they please others—they can express more of who they are in the world and bring more confidence, decisiveness, and productivity to their work as leaders. When they can balance their concern for the welfare of others with a deep appreciation of what they bring to the table, they can lead from a grounded sense of their emotional intelligence and sensitivity and their personal power.
If you are not a Two, but have a relationship with a Two, here are some tips for getting on better with the Twos in your life:
- Offer support. Twos want to know that you’re on their side and you have their back—that they can trust you to support them when they need something. If a Two knows they can trust you to be generous with them, they will be willing to do anything for you.
- Give them space to do their best. If you want a Two to do something well, don’t rush them. Twos want to do their best and add value and not let anybody down, so they need time to prepare and figure it out.
- Match their level of passion and dedication to the relationship, in your own way, or to the work and the team. Show equal commitment and enthusiasm and they will see they are not alone in putting their heart into the work they do.
- Be upbeat and positive. Twos want to enjoy people and have fun both at work and in their relationships, so they appreciate others who will join them in shouldering the burden of keeping peoples’ spirits up.
- Handle with care. Learn to deliver negative feedback sandwiched between two pieces of positive feedback. Resist the impulse to ask too much of your Twos, and encourage them to say “no” if they need to. Be direct, and support them in being the same way with you and others. And above all, let them know you like and care about them.
- Affirm them and their efforts. Let Twos know when what they are doing is working. They are highly responsive to encouragement and positive feedback. They need to know where they stand in terms of how others feel about them, and they may feel lost if people don’t let them know how they’re doing and how they can do better.
FURTHER RESOURCES FOR TWOS & THOSE WHO LOVE THEM:
This is a great, easy-to-follow overview by Russ Hudson of the Two personality style, which also offers some practices which Twos (or all of us) might find helpful when struggling with “Two-Stuff” in our lives.
In the episode below, I take a DEEP dive into all things Two, trying to give an overview of how the Enneagram Type Two Personality might shows up in our lives as a kind of continuum (or ladder) of psychological and spiritual health.