Enneagram 9 wing 8

Enneagram 9w8 The Referee

In an earlier post, I discussed the Nine with a One wing, so it’s time to turn our heads to the other side and examine the Nine with an Eight wing. What’s a 9w8 like on a good day? On a bad day? What are good career choices for a Type Nine wing Eight? How do they make decisions? Let’s explore.

Enneagram Nine

First, though, let’s get a refresher on what it means to be a Type Nine. It’s the “crown” at the top of the Enneagram symbol, perched at the very top – as you can see below.

Nine is an instinctive type, meaning Nines process the world through their “gut” or intuition more than types in the Thinking or Feeling Centers. Enneagram 9 traits include a mellow, welcoming spirit and the ability to just “be.” Nines have a deep inner fear of disharmony, so they often end up erasing themselves so that they don’t risk losing harmony. In other words, they would rather go along with what others want to do because asserting their own opinions or desires might cause discord.

Consequently, Nines make great mediators. Riso & Hudson call Nines “The Peacemaker” for this reason. They tend to want to resolve disputes and bring health, so suitable Enneagram 9 jobs may include therapists, arbiters, social workers and community health workers. They can also excel at business in a negotiating role, sales or within Human Resources.

Because they want to keep the peace, Enneagram 9 decision-making can be a difficult process. To choose one thing means to exclude many others, and what if the thing you really want is not what someone important to you wants? Nines try to pass the buck a lot – letting someone else decide where to go for lunch, for instance – so they don’t have to risk disagreement.

Enneagram Eight

A quick reminder of Type 8 is in order here, too, just so you can understand the flavor it imparts to the Nine as its wing. As you can see from the above diagram, the Eight is also in the Instinctual Center, also with the underlying emotion of anger or rage. The Nine usually suppresses its anger, whereas the Eight has no trouble letting anger out.  In fact, the 8 belongs to the Emotional Realness group in the Harmonic Triad; they want to openly show what they’re feeling and want you to match the intensity of their feeling. That makes the 9w8 a bit more emotionally volatile than the 9w1. The Eight is assertive with an exploring, pioneering spirit that makes an impact on the otherwise chill, hang-out Nine.

What’s an Enneagram Wing?

What’s fascinating about the Enneagram is that there are so many facets to it, so many connections and elements to explore. The wings are one such element, and their influence on the core personality type is significant. These are the number on either side of the core personality, if you’re looking at the Enneagram symbol. So, for the Nine, the only wing possibilities are the Eight and the One. Now let’s see how the wings affect Type 9.

Enneagram 9 wing 8

Riso & Hudson call this personality type “The Referee.” This is the Nine Peacemaker with the will to mediate between people well. They note in their book Personality Types that it’s one of the hardest types to understand because the Nine core type and Eight wing are in conflict – the Peacemaker and the Challenger in a power struggle. Who will prevail? The 9w8 is mellow yet sociable and outgoing, with energy focused outward toward others.

9w8 and the Levels of Development

Let’s look at the Nine wing Eight in terms of their Levels of Development. These levels describe how the personality acts based on an individual’s ability to be present. In other words, it describes the degree to which the personality is running the show. People are in the Healthy, Average or Unhealthy level. Personal development sends them toward greater health, and difficulties may send them toward less awareness and presence.

9w8s at the Healthy level draw on the willpower, passion and inner strength of the Eight. They have the Nine’s comforting and positive style as well as the Eight’s strength and endurance. They can be assertive without being self-conscious; they can by turns subordinate their desires for the common good and be independent and courageous. The Eight influence gives them easier access to a temper, though the 9w8at the Healthy level rarely uses it. They like to socialize and give off an aura of both good nature and strength.

In the Average range, 9w8s tend to be peaceful but sometimes become rather aggressive without realizing how far they’ve gone. That’s again the Nine and Eight in conflict. Nines influenced by Eight can become unfocused due to a sort of sensual laziness – lackadaisical about success in some parts of their lives while assertive about other parts. The Nine tendency to merge with the other and the Eight tendency toward lust of all kinds give the 9w8 strong urges psychological and sexual union the other. They are focused on material comfort more than 9w1s and may also be more stubborn and defensive. Their Eightish anger may explode out if their peace of mind and well-being are threatened.

When 9w8s are at the Unhealthy level, they lack energy and are typically depressed. They are emotionally flat, though there are periods when they are tearful and anxious. Because the Eight wing fears being controlled or taken advantage of, the Nine’s innate resistance to accepting help increases. They are capable of violence without caring about the consequences and can be physically dangerous. As an Instinctual type, the 9w8’s strong instinctive impulses may go unrestrained at this level. Because this is the level at which people of all types devolve into mental unhealth, it’s likely that their spouse has left by now. For 9w8s, this can result in extreme jealousy, devastation to the sense of self and rage welling up from the Eight’s influence due to wounded pride. Addiction and extreme dissociation are possible here.

Now, take a breath! That’s a lot of negative stuff, but remember that most people are in the Average level, and only a few get to this Unhealthy range of being. People at this lower level are in deep pain and need a lot of compassion, even if it’s impossible to share space with them. They didn’t ask or intend to get to this place of sorrow.

9w8 vs. 9w1

As mentioned above, I explored the Nine wing One in an earlier post, but here I’ll do a quick contrast between it and the Nine wing Eight. The 9w8 is more instinctive and sensual than the 9w1; they operate more by instinct than those with a One wing. They seem more grounded and physically present than 9w1. They are more easygoing than the One-influenced Nine, who is so focused on principles and ideals. As I noted in the earlier post, the 9w1 is more cerebral than the 9w8 and also more in control of their emotions. 9w8s want to engage with the world more than 9w1s do.

Famous Enneagram 9w8s

Riso & Hudson list the following well-known people as exemplars of a Nine with an Eight wing: Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, Kevin Kostner, Gerald Ford, Gary Cooper, Keanu Reeves, Ingrid Bergman, Woody Harrelson, Sophia Loren, Gina Davis, Janet Jackson, Whoopi Goldberg, Ringo Starr, Walter Cronkite, Perry Como, Bing Crosby and Ladybird Johnson. Notice that two in this list served as president of the United States – not what you’d typically expect of the laid-back, “I don’t matter” Type 9. Perhaps it’s the Eight influence that enabled these Nines to pursue their own interests and be a bit more assertive in at least this area.

The Referee

The Nine’s natural ability to mediate, coupled with the Eight’s assertiveness and desire for justice, come together as The Referee. Nines with an Eight wing exhibit an earthy groundedness that makes them feel like a safe place to hang out in. They are welcoming and people-focused, but they also are able to focus on their own desires in at least some areas of their lives. I know at least one 9w8, and I’m sure glad I do!

Wanna dig deeper into the Enneagram or have a handy refresher? Get my visual guide, the Enneagram Quick Reference Chart! https://bit.ly/3zPISWf




  1. Carrie59 on September 8, 2021 at 12:16 pm

    Three presidents (not two) on your list were 9w8.

  2. hhavlick on March 28, 2022 at 9:17 pm

    Thanks for catching that!

  3. hildie on November 4, 2022 at 8:19 pm

    I’m a self-pres 9w8 and it’s really hard for people to understand! People think 9s are doormats and it’s hard to convince them otherwise.

  4. hhavlick on November 4, 2022 at 8:30 pm

    I have a dear friend who’s a 9w8 and she is definitely NOT a doormat! Thanks for your comment, and keep moving toward your true self!

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