Enneagram Type Two: The Giver
To feel loved and connected.
I must meet the needs of others in order to be cared about and loved.
Enneagram Type Twos thrive on building relationships and personal connections. They are warm, engaging and show a lot of emotion; they want to be in service to others. Twos want to be liked and avoid rejection, so they’re always ready with a smile, a compliment or helpful advice. Their innate people skills let them sense the right thing to say to make someone else feel important and admired.Type Twos need to feel appreciated and tend to get overly involved in others’ lives. Feeling indispensable gives them a sense of power.
Type Two Key Characteristics
Enneagram Type Two Focus: Relationships and helping others.
The Enneagram Type Two appears to be a “people person.” They connect with others through focused listening, empathizing and anticipating others’ needs but they do this to the detriment of their own feelings. As children, the Two may have had an experience in which a critical need of theirs was not met. In response, the Two learned to adapt to others and repress their own desires as a survival strategy.
Because of that early formative experience, Type Twos feel embarrassed for simply having needs. They are often agreeable so they can build alliances with people who will satisfy their needs without having to verbalize them. But repressing these needs puts them at a significant disadvantage as it prohibits them from forming true, honest, deep connections with those whose love and approval they seek.
Enneagram Type Two Vice: Pride
Each Enneagram Type is associated with a vice, or passion. The vice indicates the primary emotional-motivational issue for a person of that Type.
Enneagram Type Two’s vice is pride. Beatrice Chestnut, PhD and author of The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Greater Self-Knowledge, describes this as “not…the healthy, good feeling we have about ourselves as when we ‘take pride in’ a job well done. Rather it is the false pride of self-inflation we know as one of the Seven Deadly Sins.” Twos feel this pride because they believe they are meeting the needs of everyone around them.
The prideful feeling comes and goes in cycles. The Two, seeking the approval of others, works hard to meet the needs of others around them. This leads to them feeling competent and powerful. In time, the Two will be confronted by their feeling of inadequacy that doesn’t quite sync up with this prideful view, leaving them embarrassed that they were ever prideful to begin with. Thus, they begin seeking the approval of others once again.
Exploring Type Two Further
Centers, subtypes and wings help provide additional insight into how a person operates within their type.
Enneagram Type Two Center
A core tenet of the Enneagram is that people are “three-brained,” meaning that we exist with three centers of intelligence: the body center, the heart center and the head center.
Type Two is part of the heart (or feeling) center, which regulates emotion. Twos relate to people through emotional empathy and relationships are of the utmost importance. They are very aware of the image they project, as they feel it’s what will attract the approval of others.
The issues of each center revolve around a mostly unconscious emotional response to losing contact with their core self. Type Twos, as well as Threes and Fours which are also in the heart center, struggle with feelings of shame. They create a persona in an attempt to get the love and approval they seek. Twos are in conflict with their feeling of shame. While they do fundamentally desire to give of themselves to others, they also do so in order to be liked.
Type Two Instinctual Subtypes
The Enneagram system allows for three subtypes in each type. They are Self-Preservation, Social Interaction and One-to-One Bonding.
- Self-Preservation emphasizes behavior related to safety and security.
- Social Interaction focuses on belonging, recognition and relationships in social groups.
- One-to-One Bonding concentrates on individual relationships and interpersonal attraction.
Self-Preservation Type Twos: Privilege
Self-Preservation Twos are the most child-like of the three subtypes. They appear youthful and cute, unconsciously inviting other people to take care of them. They want to be loved and prioritized without having to do anything to earn this, just as children are in a family setting. Consistent with how children often behave, the SP Two is often more fearful and less trusting than the other Type Two subtypes.
Social Interaction Type Twos: Ambition
Social Twos are powerful and intellectual; they know how to command a room. They rely heavily on the reciprocal nature of relationships, offering their support to others as a way to guarantee support for themselves in the future. Social Type Twos are more introverted than the other Two subtypes, which can be attributed to their desire to be viewed as in control. They have workaholic tendencies and may overextend themselves with commitments to groups they feel are important.
One-to-One Bonding Type Twos: Aggressive/Seductive
One-to-One Bonding Twos are charmers who aim to connect passionately with another person. They work tirelessly to attract someone who will be so enamored of them that they’ll fulfill the Two’s needs without being asked. At times, this hard work of attracting someone comes across as aggressive, intense and dramatic. Twos justify this behavior as being in the name of love, which they can confuse with desire.
Enneagram Type Two Wings
Each Enneagram type has two wings, which are the numbers on either side of the Type. One wing is usually stronger than the other and its qualities are more likely to bleed over into the main Type.
A 2 with a 1 wing (2w1) is quieter than a 2 with a 3 wing. The 2w1 wants to do good and help others and will do so with a bent toward perfectionism.
A 2 with a 3 wing (2w3) is more extroverted and quite focused on success and appearance.
Enneagram Type Twos at Work
Enneagram Type Twos motivate others and serve their team. They build cohesive teams, long-term client relationships and have strong customer service skills. Team members may see them as more focused on people than business results.
Type Twos thrive in careers that allow them to interact with, support and relate to people. Examples might be event planners, real estate agents, physical therapists and executive secretaries.
The Type Two leader motivates others. They can assess the right person for the right job and see performance strengths and deficits. They facilitate opportunities to enhance work performance and motivate others toward organizational success. Type Twos are warm, relational, appreciative, compassionate and intuitive.
Feeling overlooked is a trigger for Type Twos. It can push them to assign blame to others, deny personal responsibility or become people-pleasers.
Type Twos are quicker to make decisions for others than for themselves. As caretakers, they often feel they know what’s best for those around them and can confidently express this. They try not to be selfish and therefore may struggle to make decisions that provide a benefit to themselves.
Conflicts and Resolution
In healthy conflict, Type Twos are congenial and sensitive to others’ feelings. They’ll consider everyone’s needs, wants and desires and explain their ideals positively. If the Two feels unappreciated or unrecognized, the conflict can skew unhealthy. In this situation, the Type Two may have trouble hearing feedback from others and may have intense emotional outbursts. To resolve conflicts, the Two needs to remember that they are valuable to the team but not always solely responsible.
For someone giving feedback to a Type Two, express appreciation for their effort. Encourage their empowerment and freedom to say no while reminding them to take care of themselves and set boundaries. Be prepared for the possibility of accusations, crying and intensity if the Type Two feels rejected or dismissed.
When a Two gives feedback, they should use their naturally supportive style to communicate without undo flattery. They must clearly state their needs and be aware that others know themselves better than they do.
Continued Growth and Development for Enneagram Type Twos
Type Two personalities abandon their own needs and wants for the sake of fulfilling those of another person. With continued growth, they can move past this and become their full self, trusting that they are still worthy of love and approval from others.
Beatrice Chestnut, PhD, suggests in her book The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Greater Self-Knowledge that each type can benefit from self-observation, self-inquiry, self-reflection and self-development.
For Type Twos, this means:
- Observing the various ways they repress their true desires in an effort to fulfill the needs of others
- Paying attention to the effects of their patterns and the feelings they elicit
- Acting on what they’ve noticed; Type Twos must learn to accept their real emotions and recognize that being their true self may open them up to receiving more from others
Another way for Twos to evolve is to move ahead to their Type Eight “Growth-Stress” point and back to their Type Four “Child-Heart” point. Moving to Eight means the Type Two can be more proactive and authoritative, thereby expanding the breadth of ways the Two can impact the lives of others. When the Two moves to Four, the Two can connect more authentically with their needs that have been repressed out of shame, owning them and giving them validity.
Enneagram Worldwide suggests that Type Twos focus their attention outside of their body and pay attention to their breath, which they may restrict as they await feedback and responses from others.
Enneagram Type Twos can grow in humility, learning that their true self—with all its needs and feelings—is worthy of love and approval.
Corporate Consciousness uses the Enneagram to help leaders and teams improve their emotional intelligence. Whether you’re interested in one-on-one coaching, building a high-performing team, or continuing your path of growth among others, Corporate Consciousness can help.