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Confrontation as an Enneagram Nine

Updated: Nov 3, 2022

A little while ago, when my family had Covid, my high school Sophomore son missed the last few days of the term at school. His English teacher had a hard deadline of 2:00 pm for turning in the final paper. In his Covid brain fog, he missed the deadline by 2 hours.

You would think (as a Nine, anyway...) that his teacher would understand his situation and accept his late work with little to no penalty, right?

Nope. All he knew was that this student wasn't being responsible and wanted to teach him a lesson about responsibility. So poor Bennett's grade went from an A- down to a D. Boom, just like that.

I felt like this was ridiculous, so I emailed the teacher, kindly asking him to reconsider his decision, explaining our circumstances a little more. One being that my son has Dyslexia and that writing papers don't come easily to him, especially when he's sick.

The teacher had given the whole class an extra week to finish the paper, so he felt that, even though Bennett was home and ill, he had every reason to turn it in on time. He would be happy to discuss it with me in person or on the phone though.


This is not what I wanted to hear. I imagine if you're a Nine, you understand the concept of conflict avoidance and can probably relate- I try to steer clear of conflict at all costs to remain in a state of peace. The thought of hashing something out with a strong-willed person makes my heart race and my throat tighten. I can't think of anything more awful.

But I thought it might be worth a try. Unfortunately, I couldn't pass this dreadful engagement off onto my husband because he is more of a stickler about teaching kids lessons and would have agreed with the teacher right from the start.

The day came for the conversation. I knew what was going to happen. In all situations where I have advocated for my kids in the past, I have always found it hard to keep my emotions calm enough to hear the other person out. I usually turn into a passive-aggressive Mama-Bear. (You know what I'm talking about, right?)

Long story short: The teacher didn't bend on giving my son the credit for the paper. He was willing to change his grade at the end of the school year to the average of whatever he earned in the next two terms.

Remaining in My State of Peace

All angst aside, I just want to share what I did before and during the conversation, to keep myself calm and out of fight/flight/freeze mode. How did I manage the conflict and still remain in my desired state of peace?

  • Before the conversation, I thought through my arguments and had them ready in my mind. I also reminded myself that this wasn't a huge deal. We were only going into this to see what was possible. I tried to set aside my emotions for a time and went into it as calm as possible.

  • During the conversation, when I found my heart racing and my throat tightening, instead of thinking something was wrong with me (which usually escalates things even more) or trying to avoid the negative emotion by pushing it down, I closed my eyes as he rambled on (luckily, we were on the phone) and focused on my breath. I thought about the defensiveness that I was feeling and dropped my awareness into my body, focusing on how that emotion was causing my throat to tighten and my heart to race. My throat was doing what it was conditioned to do when I was young: create a dam so the emotions don't come up and make me cry. I relaxed into that feeling and allowed it, breathing and picturing the emotion softening and coming out with each exhale. I was not only confronting the teacher, but I was confronting my emotions- which is huge for Nines that LOVE conflict avoidance.

What happened next amazed me. I suddenly felt totally at ease with whatever the outcome turned out to be. I relaxed into it. I became curious about the teacher's point of view and allowed