Core motivation: fear of being controlled by others, not wanting to be vulnerable, desire to control their environment, power
Coping strategies: denial, aggression, intimidation
Fundamental needs: control, stimulation, achievement, leaving a legacy, protecting themselves and others
Enneagram test: here
Other names: The Challenger, The Protector, The Boss, The Leader, The Hero
Before we jump into discussing type 8 characteristics, it’s important to mention that a lot of these qualities are, in fact, overcompensation for not wanting to feel weak or controlled by others. Their strength and power are often an attempt to hide their vulnerability and softer feelings. Spotting type 8 isn’t complicated. Look for the following traits:
Eights have a commanding presence. They do not demand attention; they command attention by merely being present. Challengers possess a special kind of energy that can be felt by others, and generally, they get all the respect and attention without any effort. Naturally dominant, Eights own the room!
Eights are very proactive and don’t hesitate to take the initiative. If they are set out to do something, they give it their all until their mission is accomplished.
Eights are capable of making fast decisions, even in stressful situations. They believe they must be able to deal with the big problems and are ready to take full responsibility for their choices.
Eights can stand up for themselves and others. They will not accept mistreatment, and they will be clear about their wants and needs.
Eights are natural leaders. Both male and female Eights would rather give orders than being ordered around. It doesn’t matter if the Eight is a housewife or a CEO — they are going to lead and tell others what to do.
Independence is one of the Eight’s core values. Because of their intense need to be autonomous, they avoid accepting other people’s help and resist being indebted to anyone.
Eights believe in their capability to exert control over their environment and get the results they want. Because in their minds they aren’t limited by reality, they may appear overconfident and just “too much”.
One of the Eight’s biggest fears is to be average. Eights want to make a difference in this world; they want to leave a legacy after they are gone.
Eights inspire others with their energy and vision. They believe in themselves, and they also believe in others. They instill hope in others about what they can achieve and who they can become.
To mask their vulnerability and to discourage others from messing with them, Eights adopt a tough exterior and deny any weakness or fear.
Because Eights don’t want others to control them and because they see themselves as protectors of the weak, they often rebel against established authorities and rules.
Eights don’t hesitate to stand up for their friends and loved ones and may become very aggressive. A healthy Eight is not a bully and doesn’t enjoy seeing other people being bullied.
Eights don’t tiptoe around problems; they confront whatever or whoever bothers them head-on. They believe that it’s much easier to communicate their feelings about the situation right away than to be stuck in a state of anger and resentment.
Eights are big-picture thinkers. They see an opportunity where others see only gloom and depression. They could take on a failing project and turn it into success. Eights are exceptionally hard workers — they work hard and enjoy doing so.
Eights can sometimes overdo their forcefulness and express too much power. The Eight’s strengths may turn into weaknesses.
Asking too many questions, being brutally honest and the ability to see through people may scare off others.
Eights want to give an impression that they are always in control of the situation, even when they aren’t. They may intimidate others by brandishing their power and authority, always ordering other people around and criticizing them.
When Eights feel they are about to lose their grip, they may explode into rage. With their ability to reason diminished, they don’t process things logically anymore and may say and do things without thinking.
Eights want to move things forward as fast as they can. While they are great big-picture thinkers, they often ignore important details, not even mentioning other people’s opinions and feelings.
Eights believe that the best defense is a good offense and may attack others when they feel threatened. Just like pufferfish double their size when in danger, Eights can become “big” when threatened or presented with life’s challenges.
Because Eights want to see themselves as “big” even when they aren’t necessarily that big or strong, they tend to engage in extreme behaviors. Some examples would be overeating, not sleeping enough, working too late at night or even partying too much.
They insist on being right. Eights believe they are the most influential people in their surrounding, and because of this belief, they assume that their opinions are the only correct opinions to have. They may bend the truth to match their perception without even being aware of what they are doing.
To affect their environment, build things, and leave a legacy, Challengers need to be productive. But with their tendency to excessive behavior, Eights often overdo things and work too much and too late. They may feel anxious when they aren’t working and deny their natural human limitations or physical needs.
Black and white thinking.
Eights mentally divide people into two categories: the strong and the weak, and nothing in between. While healthy Eights see themselves as protectors of the weak, unhealthy Eights may decide that the weak do not deserve their respect.
Enneagram Type 8 Subtypes
Some Enneagram experts divide each Enneagram personality type into three subtypes: self-preservation, social, and one-to-one. Depending on the Eight’s main focus, we have Self-Preservation Eight, Social Eight and One-to-One Eight.
Self-Preservation Eights focus on protecting their interests. Social Eights use their power and authority to protect others. One-to-One Eights tend to be attention seekers and attempt to control others through their charisma and provocative behavior.
Another way to classify Eights is by their health level.
Each personality type can be divided into nine health levels. Eights can go all the way from big-hearted and compassionate heroes (level 1) to destructive and dangerous psychopaths (level 9).
In addition to our primary type, we are affected by the two neighboring types. There are no definite boundaries where one type ends and another one begins. In this case, type 8 can be affected by type 7 and type 9. As a result, there are two distinctive subtypes: the Eight with a Seven-Wing (8w7) and the Eight with a Nine-Wing (8w9).
How to Deal with Eights
Eights can be challenging to deal with if they are unhealthy, but healthy Eights shouldn’t be a problem. They tend to have a distinct way of communication that is very direct and somewhat in-your-face. But Eights themselves cannot see why this may upset other people when they are only trying to make a point.
They respect reliable and competent people whom they consider to be at their level. They dislike laziness and irrational behavior. Unless you are ready to fight, don’t intimidate Eights or make them feel threatened. Avoid telling them what to do and allow them to feel like they are free to make their own choices.
Why do Enneagram type 8 have this need to dominate and control others? This need stems from their deeply held conviction that the weak are constantly abused and taken advantage of by others. Because of this belief, they decided that they need to be strong to protect themselves and the people they love.
- Mikhail Gorbachev
- Donald Trump
- Franklin Roosevelt
- Muhammad Ali
- Sean Connery
- Joseph Stalin
- Fidel Castro
- Pablo Picasso
- Charles de Gaulle
- Saddam Hussein
Enneagram Type 8 and MBTI
Online CBT Platform to Help Deal with Relationship Problems, Anxiety, Depression, Addiction, and More. Includes professional follow-up by a CBT therapist. Click here to get started.