Enneagram 4 in Conflict: Triggers & Tips for Resolution

1 April 2024

Enneagrams Type Four are well-known for their internal conflicts, which they solve through introspection and deep dive into their inner world. For this reason, Fours often have a good understanding of themselves, which means that Enneagram 4 in conflict knows how to resolve it efficiently.

Nevertheless, Fours’ reaction in confrontation is notoriously difficult to predict, as they hold the reputation of one of the most erratic Enneagram types.

In this article, we will provide insight into how Fours feel and react to conflict and how they can improve their conflict management skills.

What is the Enneagram Type 4 Like?

Enneagrams Type Four, also known as the Individualists, are known for their need to explore their identity and express their uniqueness. Deeply emotional and hypersensitive, Fours are on an everlasting soul-searching mission, and they enjoy diving into their own depths. For this reason, they often have highly developed intrapersonal intelligence.

Though they are genuinely compassionate and capable of understanding people from all walks of life, Fours are very private people who prefer to have a few close relationships. They crave profound, meaningful connections with other people, but not at the cost of compromising their authenticity.

Moreover, Fours are nonconformists who follow their hearts and choose career paths that ignite their passion for life. They are often artistically gifted, and they like to use their creativity to express their perspective on the world.

The dark side of the Enneagram 4 personality comes from the fact that they tend to identify with their feelings, which may result in great internal instability as feelings are constantly changing. Moreover, they can be very impulsive and erratic, torturing the people they love with their moodiness and melancholy.

In addition, it is important to note that there are two distinct Enneagram 4 subtypes: Four with a Five wing (4w5), which shows some traits of Type 5, and Four with a Three wing (4w3), which has some traits of Type Three. The 4w5s might be even more isolated and introverted, while the 4w3s are often inclined toward theater, show business, and performing arts.

5 Triggers for Enneagram 4 to Enter Conflict

The most important triggers for Enneagram 4 to enter conflict are those that intensify their inner conflicts. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones:

#1. Feeling Inferior

Fours are prone to comparing themselves to other people. On the one hand, they believe that they are special and superior to others, and on the other, they suffer from perceived flaws that they believe make them inferior. As a consequence, they may become envious and bitter for no particular reason.

When some external circumstances trigger this chronic inner conflict, they are prone to reacting irrationally, provoking issues through confrontational remarks.

Moreover, they can resort to passive-aggressive behaviorsand project their inferiority complex onto other people, believing that they are belittling or overshadowing them in some way.

#2. Feeling Abandoned

Fours are deeply afraid of abandonment and, therefore, are hypersensitive to both verbal and nonverbal cues of possible rejection and abandonment. Regardless of whether abandonment is real or imagined, Fours can react with intense feelings, anger, and resentment, which easily escalate into conflict.

#3. Criticism

Sensitive and vulnerable, Fours suffer deeply when other people criticize them or their work. They are quick to respond defensively, even to constructive criticism, as they are very fragile in matters of their creativity and personal expression.

When they feel their identity is jeopardized, they react by provoking heated arguments because they feel they have to defend their personal boundaries.

#4. Betrayal

Though they are one of the most introverted Enneagram types, Fours care deeply for the relationships in their lives.

They focus on building deep and meaningful connections, which is why they are so deeply hurt when they feel their trust is betrayed. In an attempt to understand what caused the betrayal, they may initiate conflicts as they try to restore a sense of trust.

#5. Feeling Unseen

Fours aren’t particularly interested in being in the limelight, but they care to be seen, heard, and understood for what makes them unique. So, when they feel ignored or dismissed in group settings or in personal relationships, they may react with anger, provoking conflicts and playing the martyr.

Moreover, they may also try to assert themselves by being overly dramatic and theatrical.

Enneagram 4 during conflict displays a wide range of emotions. They usually enter conflicts deeply convinced that their perspective is adequate and realistic, and they invest a lot of strength to hold their ground firmly.

Their intense emotional reactions can make the conflict more dramatic than it actually is, particularly because they generally tend to be very subjective. However, no matter whether they are right or wrong, they are honest, authentic, and open to dialogue as long as the other side shows respect for their attitude.

If a Four feels they can’t get their point across, they feel deeply disappointed and withdraw into their inner world. They are mostly focused on understanding where the other side is coming from and whether they understand them.

So, while they may not be particularly skilled in resolving conflicts, Fours learn a lot from them because they ultimately seek mutual understanding.

How Enneagram Type 4 Resolves Conflict

Enneagram Type 4 resolves conflicts through introspection and self-reflection. They usually need some time alone to process all the feelings related to the conflicting situation and understand its root cause.

Once they have a better grasp of the conflict from multiple angles and have figured out how their emotions color their perception of it, they reach out and share their insights.

By expressing how they feel about the conflict and what they actually need from it, Fours create an opportunity for genuine connection with others involved in it.

Fours are never looking to simply resolve the issue but to understand the other side on a deeper level and grow from the experience.

After they feel they have achieved mutual understanding, Fours readily move on to the practical aspects of conflict resolution, fostering collaboration and compromise along the way.

How to Approach Resolving Conflict With Enneagram Type 4

The approach to resolving conflict with Enneagram Type 4 requires fine attunement to their needs and feelings. It is crucial to address the issue at hand with compassion and a willingness to engage in deep emotional exploration.

The more emotionally expressive and dramatic Fours are, the more you can be sure that they feel unheard, unseen, and misunderstood. Therefore, instead of reacting to their drama with rage or judgment, stay calm and seek to understand what triggered them to react so intensely.

Moreover, bear in mind that Fours don’t care that much about having things their way. It’s all about understanding and connecting with them. So, focus on your relationship rather than on the objective facts surrounding the conflict, listen attentively, and allow them to communicate with you what they actually need.

More than a solution, Fours need emotional closure, so don’t hesitate to engage in heartfelt discussions and express your views, no matter how different they are from the Four’s view. When you establish an honest connection with them, you can be sure you’ll easily overcome any conflict with Enneagram Type Four.

3 Tips for Enneagram 4 on How to Deal With Conflict

Conflicts are deeply unsettling for Enneagram Type Four because they trigger their core fear of rejection and abandonment. For this reason, it is very important for them to learn to navigate conflicts effectively. Here are a few essential Enneagram 4 tips on dealing with conflicts:

  • Take time to react. Fours are very emotional and tend to take everything personally. For this reason, their judgment is often clouded by their intense emotions. It is, therefore, essential for them to take time and process their emotions before entering a conflict.
  • Practice self-compassion. Self-criticism and negative self-talk are just unhealthy patterns we adopted from other people who took care of us as children. They do more harm than good when it comes to conflict resolution and will only make you feel worse. When Fours practice self-empathy rather than self-criticism, they will gain a better understanding of not only themselves but also other people.
  • Ask for support. Fours don’t feel comfortable asking for help, but it can be very beneficial for them to seek support from trusted friends, family, or a mental health professional during intense conflicts. This will allow them to channel their emotions better and make better decisions.

How to Learn to Manage Conflicts Effectively

Conflicts are a great opportunity for growth, but only if you know how to navigate them effectively. By taking our Enneagram test, you’ll not only find out your Enneagram personality type but also learn how to manage conflicts, improve your relationships, advance in your career, and live up to your full potential.

Key Takeaways

Enneagram 4 in conflict shows all their hallmark traits, like emotional intensity, nonconformism, and desire for connection. Moreover, they show exceptional capacity to grow from conflicts because they are highly introspective. Before you go, let’s round off by reflecting on the key insights about Enneagram 4 in conflict:

  • Fours find conflicts deeply unsettling because they trigger their fear of abandonment.
  • During conflict, Fours display great emotional intensity and struggle to stay objective.
  • Mutual understanding and collaboration are the most important for Fours during conflict, as they need to feel seen and heard.
  • Successful conflict resolution requires Fours to reflect on and work through their emotions. For this reason, conflicts are very beneficial for the Individualist.