Enneagram 8w9: The Guide

Written by Tim Branch

If you have ever:

  1. Heard a description of an 8 and resonated, but felt that you were not quite that “extreme”,
  2. Surprised others when your anger shows,
  3. Noticed yourself being much more tender and accommodating at home than at work,
  4. Observed that you are stern and know when to put your foot down, but do it in a gentle way,

…you might be an 8w9. But what does that mean?

What is a Wing?

You may have noticed results from an Enneagram test you’ve taken, or seen your friends mention their type, but with two numbers with a little “w” between them. That “w” stands for “Wing”.

Your wing will be the Enneagram type directly on either side of your core type. So wings for an 8 are either 7 or 9.

Your wing is not your next highest score, or another type you feel like you may be. For example, you cannot be an 8w3 or 8w4.

Your wing will be like an accent to your core personality.

Beth McCord (Your Enneagram Coach) describes wings as salt and pepper, to your entree. It adds some flavor but doesn’t change the type at its core.

So you will see traits of your wings type in your personality, but it does not change the core motivations behind your actions.

Unlike your core Enneagram type, your wings can change. You will likely have a dominant wing while having the ability to access the other when needed.

Your dominant wing can change in different seasons throughout your life, and both wings will look a little bit different as your level of health and awareness increases, or decreases.

What is an 8w9?

Often referred to as “Challengers”, Enneagram 8’s are strong, confident, assertive, and generally unafraid of conflict.

At their core, however, they really just want to know that they will not be betrayed. There is an incredibly tender side to them that was once wounded and they thought “never again”.

So they subconsciously, often beginning in childhood, set out to take care of themselves by having an incredibly tough exterior.

When this core type meets the “flavor” of the calm, tender, peacekeeping Enneagram 9, you have a beautiful combination of tender strength, quiet confidence, and at times a surprising temper.

The Unique Gifts of an 8w9:

Enneagram 9’s are calm, steady, consistent, and enjoy comfort. They love harmony. A 9 is more quiet and does have anger, but it is hidden deep within them, even from themselves.

Enneagram 8’s, as we know, are powerful, enjoy being in control, and are independent, confident, and assertive.

When these types come together in the 8w9, you find someone who is efficient and gets things done but in a much more tender way than an 8w7.

This subtype is calmly supportive and protective, and will say what needs to be said but in a gentle manner.

This 8 says what they mean and means what they say, and nobody in their lives expects anything different. The 8w9 has more compassion, empathy, is more aware of those around them and is softer with others.

The Struggles of an 8w9

In seasons of stress or struggle, you may find yourself being more aggressive and controlling of your environment and those in it than when you are doing well. Others may find you intimidating because they are unsure when your temper will erupt.

How to Grow as an 8w9

Though it may be hard to believe at times, enneagram 8’s really do have an incredibly gentle spirit. This can be easier to see in the 8w9, even though the less suspecting rage comes out sometimes.

Finding the balance between harmony and anger can be tricky. Practice speaking your mind calmly and regularly. This will minimize frustration on all fronts. You are generally able to identify your feelings, and it’s best to do that sooner than later.

Emotions are physiological, and when they get pushed away, they will come back bigger and louder than before, often resulting in a more extreme reaction than may be necessary.

Practice naming ALL of your feelings, making room for them, and communicating them to “your people”. This will create a deeper trust and connection for you.

We are the body of Christ. Each part of the body has a very different and very important role, and wouldn’t be able to do its job well without the others doing theirs. Lean into the part of you that is so good at encouraging, listening, and supporting people right where they are.

More Resources

On the other side of Eight is the 8w7. An eight with a seven wing is a lot more intense than those with an 8w9. They hold true to “work hard, play hard” and have an abundance of energy, excitement, and confidence.

To learn more about yourself as an Eight and how your Nine wing may present itself, check out my guide to Type Eight and guide to Type Nine.

And lastly—if you want to dive deeper into what it looks like to grow in your Enneagram type, check out The Enneagram Growth Guide, which you can download for free.

This is a guide with a Christian perspective—it’ll show you how to overcome the struggles and temptations of your number, discover the incredible gifts hidden inside you, and use that knowledge to go deeper in your relationship with God. You can grab a free copy by clicking this link.