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Fighting With Enneagram Eights

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Enneagram style 8 is one that is often misunderstood and maligned as being aggressive, heartless, or cold. Check out this cartoon description of an 8:

This couldn’t be further from the truth- beneath a prickly exterior is a truly soft and gentle soul. If you are in a close relationship with an 8 though it can be difficult to know how to resolve conflict with them. Their conflict style is overwhelming to most people initially. In the midst of a disagreement the 8 will often say harsh or hurtful things, typically not unfair or wholly untrue things as other types might- rather brutally honest or abrasive. They may take a competitive stance, wanting to “win” the argument. Given these facts it may seem your role in the fight is to calm things down and keep things reasonable. In fact, the opposite is true!
Here are some tips to resolve a disagreement with an 8.
-Don’t back down as a way to resolve the conflict. It is likely the 8 wants to win, but even more than that they want a fight. Give them that fight and don’t pull punches (within reason and bounds of safety, of course!)
-Even though the 8 comes out swinging and with an angry demeanor, it is likely you are fighting because of hurt feelings or some other much softer reason. If you have finished your discussion and you don’t have a clear sense of that soft reason- you haven’t resolved the issue yet. Keep fighting.
-Above all, your role in this fight is to get to the 8’s soft underbelly. Not in the sense of a cheap shot or hitting them where it hurts- the 8 essentially needs to burn off the top layer of angry emotion in order to access, feel, and resolve the underlying hurt. In a sense, your job is to keep provoking the 8 to talk/yell/seethe until they can communicate from that place. This may mean you are an escalating force in the argument until the 8’s anger boils over, and they are left with the more vulnerable emotion.
It takes a strong person to fight with an 8. You can do it! Those of you who love 8s out there, any other tips you have discovered? Also, any 8s who disagree with any of my points?
Til next time.
Jan

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