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Enneagram Type 8: The Assertive Protector


Are you learning about Enneagrams and want more information about Enneagram 8? Type 8s are often misunderstood, but this guide will tell you everything you need to know about them. Read on to learn all about what Enneagram Type 8s are known for, what they care about (and fear most), how to tell if you're a Type 8, and how this Enneagram type interacts with friends, lovers, and coworkers.


What Is the Enneagram Type 8?

Enneagram types are an increasingly popular way to classify personalities. There are nine different types, each of which has different values, goals, fears, and ways of relating to other people and the world in general. Most people take an online quiz to determine their type, and knowing your Enneagram can help you understand more about yourself as well as what you can do to become a better friend, family member, partner, and employee.

Enneagram Type 8 is often called the "protector" or "challenger." Type 8s are known for being assertive, confident, hard-working, and, at times, confrontational. They have very strong opinions and values, and they'll go to great lengths to ensure both that they're being true to themselves and that the world at large is operating as they believe it should. This includes both helping people in need and confronting people they think are acting poorly.

Famous Type 8s include Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Pablo Picasso, Aretha Franklin, and Martin Luther King Jr.


You're Probably Enneagram 8 If…

Not sure if you're an Enneagram 8? There are lots of quizzes you can take online, but if you're just looking for a quick assessment, we've got one for you. Below are 13 statements that are true of many Type 8s. Read through each of them and, if you feel that eight or more of the statements describe you well, then you're likely an Enneagram 8.

#1: You feel it is your duty to combat any injustice you see.

#2: You say what you mean without beating around the bush or worrying about the consequences.

#3: You struggle with being vulnerable and really opening up to people.

#4: You have strong opinions about what is right and wrong.

#5: If you don't like the way someone is acting, you'll tell them.

#6: You have a strong sense of self-confidence.

#7: People can sometimes describe you as intimidating.

#8: You have a strong work ethic and will keep at a project until it's done correctly.

#9: You dislike showing any weakness to others.

#10: You believe it's a moral imperative to help the less fortunate.

#11: You naturally take the lead in most situations.

#12: When someone needs your help, you're always willing to give it.

#13: The thought of not being in control of a situation is very distressing to you.


What You Need to Know About Enneagram 8s

Type 8s are all about control. They strive to always be in control of themselves, and they wish they were in control of the world. This isn't as nefarious as it sounds; Type 8s truly want everyone to feel happy, safe, and fairly treated in life. They hate injustice of all kinds and feel that the less fortunate should be protected and helped by others who have been dealt a better hand. Enneagram 8s are not the kind to shrug and decide that things are "good enough" or that it's someone else's problem to fix the world. They're full of energy, and they'll go after any problem they see with optimism and enthusiasm. It makes them deeply happy to be able to help others, and they're extremely generous with their resources when they see someone in need, whether they know them personally or not. Enneagram 8s are the type of people to spend their weekends volunteering, to regularly donate to causes they care about, or even to start their own fundraiser/volunteer group when they see there's a need.

Enneagram 8s can be hugely likeable, and even heroic, to people who agree with them or who they're helping, but they can annoy and start conflicts with people who don't share their same ideals. 8s are blessed with healthy levels of self-confidence and a strong moral compass. They believe they are experts on what is right and what is wrong, and they won't shy away from letting others know when they are doing something the 8 doesn't agree with. Type 8s are known for being very direct when they're speaking. They won't skirt around a sensitive subject, and they won't worry about the consequences of speaking their truth. 

When a Type 8's passions are aroused, they can often come off as aggressive and intimidating to others. If someone only sees a Type 8 when they're unhappy or fighting against a perceived injustice, they may assume they're arrogant, short-tempered, and domineering. Type 8s' extreme reluctance to show any type of weakness, even to people they love, can also make it difficult for people to see their softer, more vulnerable side.


Biggest goals: To leave their mark on the world, to promote fairness and fight injustice

Biggest fears: Not being in control, showing weakness, being dependent on someone


Biggest personality strengths: Generous, hard-working, brave, passionate

Biggest personality weaknesses: Self-centered, quick to anger, domineering, emotionally closed off



Enneagram Type 8 Love Relationships

Relationships can be a struggle for Enneagram 8s. Their problem isn't finding someone interested in dating them--the natural charisma of Type 8s make them desirable to many potential partners--but in keeping a relationship going long-term. Enneagram 8s have two major struggles when it comes to relationships. The first is that they hate showing weakness or being dependent on anyone, even someone they love. This can make it hard for them to open up to their partner and show who they really are, and it can make them resistant to getting too serious in a relationship because they fear  losing their independence. Type 8s can often keep partners at arm's length, and this makes it difficult for relationships to grow and deepen as they should.

The other issue Enneagram Type 8 love relationships face is the Type 8 certainty that they are always right. Type 8s have very strongly held opinions, and they don't like compromise or having to reconsider their beliefs. If their partner doesn't share these views, this can lead to a lot of conflict, particularly when the Type 8 digs their heels in and doesn't make an effort to consider another point of view.

When Type 8s are able to overcome these two issues, however; they can be great partners. They'll go to great lengths to make sure their partner is happy, put a lot of effort into helping around the home, and encourage their partner to be their best self. To achieve this, Type 8s need to remember to be vulnerable and open to differing opinions.


Enneagram 8s With Family and Friends

Even if they're the youngest or newest person in a family or friend group, Type 8s tend to gravitate towards leadership positions. They're the people scheduling the family reunion, deciding where the friend group will go out to brunch, organizing a meal delivery when someone becomes ill, etc. Type 8s have big personalities and will never get lost in the crowd, no matter how big the family or friend group is. Family and friends appreciate them for taking the lead on logistics that need to get done. Younger people especially hold Type 8s in thrall because they seem to know all the answers and have no self-doubt. Enneagram 8s respond to this near hero-worship by showering their followers with attention and helping them out where they can, whether with a job referral, a thoughtful gift, or just words of encouragement.

The Type 8 need to be in control can create resentment though, especially among people who have been in the family/friend group longer and feel they, not the Type 8, should be the leader. Type 8s aren't afraid to start an argument, and this can create long-lasting bad feelings among more peace-loving people. It's not unusual for Type 8s to go from the most popular member of a friend group to one who most people cut ties with after yet another argument. Within a family, this resentment can simmer for years, even generations, both because Type 8s don't mince words when they feel wronged (deeply hurting others) and because they'll hold on to perceived hurts for a long time. To get back into the fold, Enneagram 8s need to remember to be humble and admit when they made a mistake. Others will often eagerly welcome the Type 8 back, but making the first step is on the 8.




Enneagram 8s in the Workforce

Type 8s have the potential to be superstars in their careers. Their confidence, natural leadership, and charisma mean they often rise through the ranks of whatever job they are at. Enneagram 8s aren't afraid of hard work when they feel the reward is worth it, and nothing is more important to a Type 8 than leaving their mark on the world. As such, they're often hugely dedicated to their job and spend many late nights putting in extra hours of work to make sure a project is completed perfectly. Enneagram 8s also take great pleasure in mentoring, and they'll often offer guidance and support to younger/newer coworkers.

Despite their many positive qualities in the workplace, Type 8s can struggle if they're at a job that isn't a good fit for them or where they don't feel appreciated. Type 8s like to be in control of all things, including their work. They can find it extremely difficult to take orders from others, even if those people are their superiors at the office. Type 8s can find the beginning of their careers particularly difficult because they are low on the totem pole and don't get to make many decisions. And while Type 8s can be hugely respected by people who work for them, they can clash with coworkers who have different ideas about how work should be done. The Type 8 certainty that they are always right can create conflicts in the workplace, sometimes to the point where the Type 8 is let go because they are creating such a hostile atmosphere. Most Type 8s don't let it get that far though, and are able to tamper down their frustrations long enough to reach a position where they are the boss.

The best careers for Enneagram 8s are those that allow them to have a lot of control over their job and make most of the decisions while showcasing their natural charisma and leadership qualities. Potential careers include:

  • Entrepreneur
  • Politician
  • Professor
  • Doctor
  • Judge
  • Activist


Enneagram Type 8 Wings

Each Enneagram type has two adjacent wings, one of which is more dominant than the other in each person. When you take your Enneagram test, you'll learn which wing is dominant for you. Although they don't have as large an impact as your actual enneagram type, wings still affect your personality and behavior. The two Enneagram Type 8 wings are Enneagram 8 Wing 7 (8w7) and Enneagram 8 Wing 9 (8w9). Knowing your wing will add more depth and clarity to your enneagram description.


Enneagram 8 Wing 7

Type 7s are known for being fun-loving and spontaneous, and they have even more energy than standard Type 8s. This wing type can benefit from being a bit more laid back than typical 8s, as well as being more open to loosening up and having fun. They feel less pressure to "fix" the world and are able to, at times, have fun or just relax without feeling guilty about not always moving forward.

However, Enneagram 8 Wing 7s are also more impulsive than other Type 8s, sometimes to the point of recklessness. The Type 7 spontaneity combined with Type 8 confidence means they'll make knee-jerk decisions that they are certain are correct, and they'll dig their heels in if shown evidence that they made a poor decision. They can also be somewhat scatterbrained and struggle to organize their many plans and goals.


Enneagram 8 Wing 9

Enneagram 9s are known as the "peacemakers," and they value harmony and stability. 8w9s are often more relaxed than standard 8s and less willing to push back against people who disagree with them. An 8w9 will never be as open to compromise as a Type 9, but they are not as stubborn as many Type 8s. 

Type 8 Wing 9s still naturally gravitate towards leadership positions and prefer when they're the ones calling the shots, but they're more open to collaboration and often come across as less intimidating or aggressive. This can make it easier for them to work with others, but this more reserved personality can also cause their voice to be lost in the crowd if another leader type is more dominant in getting their voice heard.


What's Next?

Interested in other Enneagram Types? Read our guides on Enneagram Type 1s and Type 4s, or delve into our overview of the Enneagram and characteristics for each type!

Want more advice on which career path you should follow? Take our career quiz to learn which jobs you'll be happiest and most successful at!

Want to keep learning new things? We've compiled 113 of the most fascinating fun facts. We bet something on the list will amaze you!


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Christine Sarikas
About the Author

Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

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