Common Mistypes for Enneagram Type 8
Since the Enneagram looks at much more than just how different personality types behave, some types can look very similar at first glance (because they behave similarly in some situations). This is especially true when only certain aspects of them get emphasized.
Yet in order for the Enneagram to benefit you, it’s crucial that you are sure which type actually reflects your personality and don’t end up mistyping yourself. This page is specifically for Enneagram Type Eights to have a quick check, whether they might have mistyped themselves.
If you want to know more about how and why misidentifications happen in the first place, you can do so here.
What are The most common Mistypes for Enneagram Eights?
Some Enneagram types are very hard to mix up, while others get misidentified more often. Let’s see how this looks like for Eights:
Type Eights quite often mistype for Type Ones or Type Twos.
Eights sometimes mistype themselves for Type Threes or Type Sixes and can also get confused about whether one of their wings, Type Seven or Type Nine, might actually be their main type.
Type Eights rarely mistype for Type Fours and almost never get misidentified for Type Fives.
Below you find a description of each potential misidentification. You will learn how to distinguish Ones from all other Enneagram types. Note that all types are compared at an average level of health. Find out what that means.
To give you a quick indication on how likely certain types get confused with Type 8, we have created different bubble sizes for each pair of misidentifications.
Click on a bubble to read all about the reasons why these two types get confused with each other and what tells them apart.
Misidentifying Enneagram Type 8 And Type 1: The Challenger and The Teacher
This can actually happen quite often, although it is much more likely for Ones to think of themselves as Eights than the other way around. You’ll see why in a moment.
Ones and Eights don’t just share the same Group*, but also quite a few similar looking behaviors: Strong-willed decision making, action-oriented ways of living and, most of all, a strong sensibility for justice.
That last point however shows most clearly how Ones and Eights are fundamentally different: Ones see justice as a moral principle that needs to be upheld, and they think a lot about how to treat everyone fairly and equally – that’s why they make such great judges, attorneys and reformers: They are great at coming up with the logically irrefutable argument why their position is the morally correct one.
Eights on the other hand don’t think much about justice as an abstract principle, they just can’t stand seeing the weak being bullied in the streets. They rarely think in general terms about justice for everyone, but in concrete terms: Protecting their family, their friends, their tribe, not by convincing them with the morally correct argument, but through sheer force of will.
This is why some Ones want to identify themselves as Eights, because they would like to have the Eight’s natural authority and aggressiveness. It’s not that Ones can’t make great leaders, but the truly aggressive type – the one that dominates by pure strength, not through having the moral high-ground – is reserved to Eights.
* If you don’t know about Groups yet, you can learn about them here. The basic idea is that of the nine types, three groups of three types each have overarching commonalities. Type One, Type Eight and Type Nine are one of those, called the Body Group. Their common theme is a strong connection to the body and the instinctive side of us – hence the “gut feeling”.
Misidentifying Enneagram Type 8 And Type 2: The Challenger and The Helper
This is one of the most common mistypes for Eights as well as Twos. Even if as an outsider it may seem obvious that they are totally different, there is a common similarity in their behavior (which, by the way, is why they are connected by a line in the Enneagram. More on that here): Twos can be quite dominating and intense, especially when they are in leadership positions (and even more specifically when they are men, whom our culture pressures into this kind of behavior anyway). These traits are straight from the rulebook of Eights. At the same time, the strong emotions of Eights and their passionate care for others can sometimes make them think they are Twos.
What’s important here are two things: First, Twos never openly dominate others like Eights do. The way they exert control will always be under the guise of being concerned for others. They don’t enter direct and open power struggles, which is something that’s natural to and even preferred by Eights. This goes for the work environment as much as for their personal relationships.
Secondly, the motivation behind their behavior is different. Eights dominate because they need to assert their power and strength. Twos dominate – covertly – in order to guarantee that others stay dependent on them. It’s kind of a top-down versus a bottom-up situation. The results may look similar at first, but the ways to get there come from opposite directions.
Misidentifying Enneagram Type 8 And Type 3: The Challenger and The Performer
There are actually quite a number of Threes who mistake themselves for Eights, much more than the other way around. Since both types are assertive, like to be efficient and are oftentimes very accomplished, Threes confuse those qualities with being a Eight. Sometimes they also see the less flattering aspects of the Three type and simply want to be Eights.
But here’s the big difference: Eights are about power. They are leaders and deal makers who want to shape the world around their personal vision. They don’t beat around the bush about who is in charge, and they will certainly never alter their behavior in order to please others.
At the center of the Three’s worldview however isn’t power, but prestige and admiration, and, contrasting the Eight, it is actually their specialty to alter their behavior in order to garner favor. Threes are afraid of failure because it could put a dent in their perfect image. Eights don’t care too much about failing – they’ll just come back stronger – nor about other people’s opinion on them as long as they get what they want.
Performers on the other hand are all about other people’s opinion on them. It’s their main motivation for doing them. That is why it can be intimidating to be around Eights, while Threes will do their best to make their company as seductive as possible.
Misidentifying Enneagram Type 8 And Type 4: The Challenger and The Romantic
This is another one of those misidentifications that seems highly unlikely until you look at one aspect that makes them look similar: Both types can be very passionate, and Eights especially can interpret their intense feelings and their occasional sense of alienation as the signs of a Four.
But that’s where the similarities end, mainly because Eights toughen up in the face of these feelings in order to maintain their sense of personal authority. They want to „get over it“ as quickly as possible. Fours don’t want to „get over it“. They want to make their pain their own, and they will stay with it and explore it as long as it takes.
In a weird way, you could describe Eights as Fours turned inside-out: While both are much better than most other types at enduring emotional difficulty, they do so in completely different ways. Eights steel themselves against emotional pain, trying (and often succeeding… for a while) to simply beat it down through sheer force of will. Fours go the opposite way and immerse themselves into the pain. They feel so comfortable in it that it doesn’t hurt them the way it would others.
Here’s a metaphor to drive that point home: If you imagine pain as a bullet being shot at you, an Eight stiffens up so much that the bullet simply bounces off their skin, while a Four turns so soft that they completely absorb the impact, rendering it’s deadly force powerless.
Misidentifying Enneagram Type 8 And Type 5: The Challenger and The Investigator
This pair only gets confused when they are in specific situations: Eights when they are stressed, which makes them withdraw and reorganize like Fives, and Fives when they are mature and at peace, which lets them take on the assertiveness of Eights.
Both types, however, have different starting points. Although they are both highly independent and are willing to fight for that independence (and have therefore trouble showing vulnerability), Eights do it out of the core motivation to assert and maintain their power, while Fives do it to preserve the sanctity of their private space.
Eights react to threats by tackling them head on, using their natural energy and authority to assert their dominance. Fives retreat, cut themselves off and reduce their dependencies on others. It’s a bit like a horse that kicks you when you do something it doesn’t like (the Eight) versus the snail that retracts its feelers and pulls back into its shell until everyone that bothered them has left again (the Five).
Misidentifying Enneagram Type 8 And Type 6: The Challenger and The Loyalist
The main reason you could confuse these two types is because Sixes have two ways of reacting to their core desire of feeling safe: Either by submitting to the things that give them safety, or by aggressively rebelling against them. This aggression can make them look similar to Eights. But as you will see, it comes from a very different place.
Eights are entirely aggressive. Not necessarily in the violent sense, but in the sense that they’re comfortable with pushing for what they want and need without hesitation. If you defy them, they will defy you back.
Sixes would never go that far. Yes, they will resist, but only to the point where they feel they can still get away with it without risking their safety too much. Eights are fundamentally independent, while Sixes need a framework they can rely on. When these types push back, they push for different things: Sixes to regain a feeling of security, Eights to regain a feeling of superiority.
Misidentifying Enneagram Type 8 And Type 7: The Challenger and The Enthusiast
As with all types that are next to each other on the Enneagram, Sevens and Eights don’t get so much misidentified but rather confused about which one is their main type and which one their wing. Since we talk about wings in more detail somewhere else, we will just mention the main difference between the two types for now.
Both of these types are aggressive about getting what they want. They’re often powerful personalities that can be intimidating to others, although for different reasons: Sevens often seem to have such amazing, exciting lives and personalities that it makes everyone else look pale in comparison. Eights however simply overwhelm people with their force of character.
That’s because their core motivation is different (and this is what will help you tell apart which is your wing and which your core type): Sevens want to avoid any feelings of anxiety and pain, so they fill their lives with as many positive and exciting things as possible (and they can work hard for that). Eights want something else: to avoid feelings of inferiority and vulnerability, which is why they simply try to conquer them.
Eights don’t look for distraction, but for domination. Similarly, Sevens don’t care as much for power like Eights do. They crack a joke in the face of adversity, while Eights just try to stare it down.
Misidentifying Enneagram Type 8 And Type 9: : The Challenger and The Peacemaker
As with all types that are next to each other on the Enneagram, Eights and Nines don’t get so much misidentified but rather confused about which one is their main type and which one their wing. Since we talk about wings in more detail somewhere else, we will just mention the main difference between the two types for now.
Eights and Nines, though lying next to each other on the Enneagram, are very different types. To be sure which one shapes your personality at the core, keep in mind what their deeper motivation is: Eights find conflict energizing and stimulating because it gives them a chance to protect their strongest desire of feeling strong and protected. Their Nine wing softens their intensity and makes them better at mediating instead of simply getting their will, but their main drive still comes from this desire to protect themselves through domination.
Compare this with Nines, whose core motivation is to be at peace with themselves and those around them. Open conflict is something they want to avoid as much as possible. Their Eight wing makes them more assertive and energetic, but it won’t change their fundamental gentleness into the intensity of Eights.