The wings are the types on either side of the primary Enneagram personality type (e.g., the wings for personality type 9 are types 8 and 1). The wings provide one of many ways for explaining how two individuals of the same type appear differently.
The wings are seen as an influence upon the type in between them. For instance, types 1 and 8 have an influence upon type 9.
This influence of the wings can be understood in two ways:
- The type between the wings can be explained in terms of the influence of the two wings (e.g., type 9 as a response to both the type 1 and type 8 influence).
- More popularly, the wings are used to describe variations for a given type (e.g., type 9 with a 1 wing or type 9 with an 8 wing).
Although an individual may identify most with one of the nine Enneagram types, how much or how little he or she identifies with the wing influence determines the wing variation for that type. There are four possibilities:
- Identification with the influence of the wing on one side (e.g., 9 influenced by the 1 wing, written 9w1).
- Identification with the influence of the wing on the other side (e.g., 9 influenced by the 8 wing, written 9w8).
- Identification equally with the influence of both wings (e.g., 9 influenced equally or alternately by both type 1 and type 8, both wings).
- Identification with neither wing (eg., 9 not influenced by either type 1 or type 8, no wing).
While the wings are used to indicate variations of or additional influences upon primary type, they may not necessarily be the 2nd most influential type for an individual. They indicate variations of a given type or they are seen as additional influences available for a given type.