I first heard of the Enneagram (a typology of nine personality types) about 5 years ago when my husband started reading a book about it by Richard Rohr. I’ve never really spent time getting a good handle on it, but the one thing that I especially like about it is the fact that each personality type can exhibit behaviors of other personality types when they are under stress or have insecurities. For me, it helped me see how a specific action could be a good thing for one person, but a bad thing for another.
For example, if someone goes around speaking their mind, it could be a bad thing if they’re doing it without thinking or doing it at the expense of other people. But what if someone has been a doormat their whole life and are learning to have a voice? In that scenario, speaking their mind could be a really healthy thing. So the same action could manifest from two very different motivations, and we need to be careful to not rush to judgment.
This is on my heart this week because in a stressful time in my life, I’ve seen where not taking the time to ask questions and understand someone’s situation has caused me to jump to conclusions or unhelpful solutions. It’s a reminder of the importance of asking questions. Asking questions (if done in health…) requires us to take a learner posture, to listen, and gives us an opportunity to see things from their perspective. I can’t remember where I first heard this, but the quote that comes to mind is “understanding ends where judgment begins.
A very practical example of this is a situation I had at work recently. We had a client who canceled their first session last minute and rescheduled for a couple weeks out. The coach reached out and asked if they should remind the client that their contract has already started and it’s important to begin right away. Instead, I suggested they reach out and let the client know they saw that they rescheduled and ask why they needed to postpone the session. The client responded letting the coach know that their father-in-law had just died and they would need to be away to be with family.
Can you imagine how horrible we would have felt if we reached out to remind him that the clock was ticking! Think of the damage that would have done to the relationship! Because we were willing to ask questions and learn more about the situation first, we were able to approach him with a much more caring and understanding response.
How are you at jumping to solutions or conclusions without spending more time discovering the cause? What’s going on in your world that has you confused? Where in life are you judging someone?
Let’s start asking questions!
“If you receive my words and treasure up my commandments within you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright…” (Proverbs 2:1-7a)
Jenny Karr, CPLC
About the Author:
Jenny has been a fundraising coach with Tailored Fundraising Solutions for the last five years serving people in ministry – whether that be individual missionaries or non-profit leaders looking to fund the ministries God has given them.
Jenny and her family served as missionaries in SE Asia from 2012-2014 where she got an up-close look at the danger of missionaries being left to fend for themselves.
Her mission is to train, equip, and support people in ministry and she has a particular passion for working with people in transition or those starting or growing their business.
Jenny has volunteered on the CCNI Board since October 2017 and currently serves at President.
Outside of work, Jenny enjoys spending as much time as possible with her husband and teenage daughter in their hometown of Nashville, Tennessee.