Stance Keyword Checklist

The stances represent the basic attitude or approach we take toward the world and other people. Our stance is most commonly demonstrated in our reaction to perceived threats (fight, flight, or submission).

Go to the two-page Stance Keyword Comparison Checklist to print a copy. After you complete the checklist, return to this page to interpret the results.

Interpreting the Results

Column A represents the Aggressive stance, which is also called “moving against” or fighting. If your highest total is in Column A, you are most likely Type 3, 7, or 8. These three types take the direct approach. They move against what gets in the way of their pursuit of their:

  • Goals (Type 3)
  • Satisfaction (Type 7)
  • Agenda (Type 8)

Column B represents the Compliant stance, which is also called “moving toward or with,” submitting, or giving in to others. If your highest total is in Colum B, you are most likely Type 1, 2, or 6. These three types see an external point of reference. They move toward what will help them earn:

  • Righteousness and autonomy (Type 1)
  • Attention and approval (Type 2)
  • Safety and Security (Type 6)

Column C represents the Withdrawing stance, which is also called “moving away” or keeping to oneself. If your highest total is in Column C, you are most likely Type 4, 5, or 9. These three types go inward to find fulfillment. They move away from what triggers a sense of:

  • Something lacking (Type 4)
  • Personal inadequacy (Type 5)
  • Distress and discomfort (Type 9)

The types that share a stance tend to misuse or under-use the same Center of Intelligence, so they have a lot in common with each other:

  • Types 3, 7, and 8 tend to misuse or under-use the Feeling center.
  • Types 1, 2, and 6 tend to misuse or under-use the Thinking center.
  • Types 4, 5, and 9 tend to misuse or under-use the Doing center.

Since each point on the Enneagram is connected to two other points (and, thereby, two other stances), our psyches contain elements of all three stances. In fact, the order of preference of stances can, in some cases, indicate your type. Types 3, 6, and 9 are a little more complicated because there are two variants of each, but the order of preference for the other six types, is:

           Primary                  Secondary               Tertiary    

Type 1             Compliant          Withdrawing      Aggressive

Type 2             Compliant          Aggressive         Withdrawing

Type 4             Withdrawing      Aggressive         Compliant

Type 5             Withdrawing      Compliant          Aggressive

Type 7             Aggressive         Compliant          Withdrawing

Type 8             Aggressive         Withdrawing      Compliant

Having a wing (that is, if your type is strongly influenced by one of the types adjacent to it on either side) could affect how strongly you identify with the stance your type takes. For example, a Type 4 (Withdrawing) with a 5 wing (also Withdrawing) would be likely to identify more strongly with the Withdrawing stance than would a Type 4 with a 3 wing (Aggressive).

23 responses to “Stance Keyword Checklist

  1. Pingback: Don, Don, He’s a 1! | Nine Paths

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  4. Pingback: Ennea-Journaling the Withdrawing Stance | Nine Paths

  5. Pingback: Ennea-Journaling the Compliant Stance | Nine Paths

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  7. I’m going to spend some time on your blog. I love the Enneagram, I use it myself with clients and I have a lot of faith in it as a tool for looking at personality dynamics. This is missing from almost all other models. Also, I’ve seen just how well this model fits reality over and over. You are doing good work here.

  8. Thank you, so much. Yes, the dynamic aspect of the Enneagram sets it apart, especially from other personality typing systems.

  9. Pingback: you can’t have too many keywords « give me a daisy

  10. Pingback: Online Enneagram Tests | Nine Paths

  11. Hey, that was a great little test. Normally I can’t decide between five and four but this did a total four. Do you do subtypes?

  12. Have you done any reliability tests? This was wonderfully clear for me. I had no doubt at all about any of my answers.

    • I used a scrambled version quite a few years ago with a number of people who knew their Enneagram type (and wing, if any). It wasn’t particularly scientific, but the results were consistent enough. I’ve revised it slightly since that time. And in several cases, it’s proved more accurate than a couple of the heavy-hitter tests out there. I created it because I think the stances are the most basic element of the Enneagram, and because it seems easier to determine stance (1 out of 3) than type (1 out of 9). Plus, as an 8, I guess I just have to do it my way.

  13. Very nice work. I congratulate you, not that an eight would need congratulations. Thanks.

  14. I think I’m either a SX 5 with a four wing, or else perhaps a SO 4 with a five wing. They are very similar. I’m just leaving it at that. But your test says 4. I know I am not a SX 4. They are too extreme according to all definitions.

    • If you email me at (so that I have your email address), I’ll scan a couple of documents that explain and describe my take on the instincts. Essentially, it seems to me the instincts are associated with the centers, and each of us has access to all three instincts as a result of our direct links to two other types (in the two other centers). We just don’t have equal access to all three instincts. Re: whether you are a 4 or a 5, you might find it helpful to take a look at the two different triads (1/4/7 and 2/5/8) to see which one seems a better overall fit.

  15. How are the 1-4-7 and 2-5-8 triads? It’s an easy choice for me between the two groups. I have nothing to do with 2 and 8. I can sometimes be something like the lowest form of 2 but rarely am I ever 8ish. I have never found my type so easily since coming here. At any rate, I have a lot in common with 1-4-7, but never heard of them as a triad!! Thank you.

  16. I am rather confused as to my set point. In dreams I am mainly a five. In the afternoons when I am busy, I seem to shift gears and get into four.

    • From what you have described about yourself, my sense is that you are a 4 with a very strong 5 wing. Although both are withdrawing types, 4s are focused inward on their own image and identity (thus your quest to firmly identify your type?), while 5s focus their anxiety outward on the exterior world. A 4w5 would, of course, have a helping of both. But I suggest your determination to identify your type is a strong indicator OF your type. Many people who can’t figure it out either don’t care or just give up and go away.

      If you keep track of what you DO, rather than what you think, feel, or dream, you’re likely to get more useful information about your type. And I realize that suggestion isn’t likely to be warmly embraced by a withdrawing type. 🙂

  17. That’s very helpful. I do think I am a four, but I can’t prove it. I guess you can’t prove this stuff as it’s all self-reported. But more and more I have come to the conclusion that I am a four. It just seems like such an evanescent realization.

  18. This was such a gem thank you so much! I was stuck between 9 and 1 for so long….I am very CLEARLY 1w9.

    I think I was hung up on stereotypes and thought I wasn’t 1 enough.

  19. Thanks for the feedback, Jen. I’m glad it helped!

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