Describing Your Attitudes
By: Jenn Rian
I’ve noticed a trend with people having difficulty describing their Attitudes. Attitude is one of the most immediately noticeable things about a person. If someone is very active in a group, their Attitudes become apparent and observable rather quickly, even if you’re not asking them to answer questions regarding the four aspects of life. We’re constantly expressing our Attitudes without prompting. However, when people try to describe their Attitudes, they very rarely do. What are they describing instead?
People tend to describe what they DO more than their Attitude towards a thing. People are more often describing their Enneagram pattern or their instinctual drives than their Attitude, since that is the personality system most closely linked to behavior.
This can sometimes show the Attitude anyway, but often it doesn’t. Any type could DO anything. AP is not about behavior or what we do, but our Attitude *towards* that aspect of life and even towards the “doing” itself. Some correlations definitely exist as some types and attitudes can be more prone to behaving in certain ways, or rarely ever behaving in certain ways. But this is a weak way to type someone and can easily lead to mistypings.
Another way people attempt to describe their Attitudes is through likes and dislikes. This tells us very little about Attitude. Any type can like art, logical puzzles, fashion, or vision boards. Liking a particular thing isn’t indicative of Attitude. How do you feel towards that thing/aspect other than “dis/liking” it? WHAT do you like/dislike about that thing, why does it make you feel that way?
Next to “doing”, this is probably the most common way people attempt to describe themselves in any system. Each personality system does have a loose correlation of traits and types, but traits never specifically describe the “thing” the system is getting at. In AP, it’s Attitude.
Bold, lazy, expressive, talkative, introverted, witty, shy, creative, serious, organized, passionate, quiet, cautious, impulsive…the list goes on.
Any type can be emotional, ambitious, intelligent, or practically skilled.
Any type can be reserved, lazy, dim, or clumsy.
These traits are almost useless in indicating Attitude or AP type. Any type can be any of those things. Such traits can also be very subjective. You might think you’re very expressive while someone else experiences you as emotionally reserved and closed off. You might see someone else as bold because comparatively you consider yourself to be cautious. Our self-concept can hint at Attitude a bit, but this is a very weak way to indicate type.
People will try to describe their Attitudes through aptitude or skill level. This *can* show a bit more Attitude than the other things I mentioned because often our Attitude is showing up in how skilled we think we are at something. But people will still grossly misattribute those Attitudes.
Those expressing a lack of skill in an aspect can often be discussing their Flexible (2nd) Attitude, or even their Confident (1st) Attitude if their disposition towards it is very flippant and results oriented. Lack of skill, or perceived lack of skill does not always equal 3x or 4x. Likewise, those boasting skills are quite often referencing their 3rd Attitude (this is quite prevalent in reactive 3Ls in particular) and mistaking it for 1x or 2x.
Any type can do anything or behave in any way.
Any type can like or prefer anything.
Any type can have any trait.
Any type can have any skill level in any aspect.
These things are not your Attitudes and these things do not adequately indicate Attitude or type. At best they can mildly hint at type, at worst they can lead to mistyping self and others and misattributing AP to things that are not Attitude and do not fall within this system.
HOW CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR ATTITUDES MORE ACCURATELY?
If you want to accurately describe your Attitudes, avoid describing what you do, what you like, or what you’re skilled at and try to stick to the golden formula.
Is your attitude towards the aspect Results or Process?
Is it self-positive or self-negative?
Is it others positive or others negative?
Describe how and in what ways.
1x – I have X managed, I’m uninterested in the input/feedback/opinions of others. I do not like unsolicited advice about X and I’m unlikely to solicit advice about it.
2x – I have X managed, I’m curious and interested in the input/feedback/opinions of others, even if unsolicited.
3x – I do not have X managed, I’m doubtful/unsure/uncertain about X. Sometimes I’m curious about others’ input/feedback/opinions but only when solicited and even then, I may still be skeptical. I do not like unsolicited advice about X.
4x – I may or may not have X managed, but it doesn’t matter much to me. Sometimes I’m interested in the input/feedback/opinions of others about X, even if unsolicited.