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Trigger Series: Type Nine

Updated: Apr 14, 2023

We've all done it. Started a casual conversation with someone that all of a sudden turns into an all out fight. What happened? If you TRULY don't know (and it wasn't one of the usual suspects of sex, politics, and money), then you might have stepped on a Trigger for this Type. Read on for tips on how to translate the conversation into Type Nine language and better understand how to dig yourself out of this hole.

Scenario 1:

What you said (with your actions): "I'm not going to follow through on that (do what is expected of me on this mutual project)


What they heard: "You don't matter."

Why do they hear this?

At their core, Nines fear disconnection with others which they believe could happen if there was conflict or disturbance of any kind. In the name of keeping the peace, Nines will merge all of their preferences, opinions, and needs with others--ultimately, deferring to everyone else because they believe they are less important. Since this belief is extremely painful to them, Nines are extremely sensitive to anything that even hints that they do not matter. This could come in the form of shirking duties, being rude to them or others, forgetting something about them, or overlooking their opinion.

When they are triggered, Nines may try to kindly call out the infraction, especially in defense of others, but they will still feel the internal struggle of feeling the need to right an injustice and keeping the peace, while also feeling they do not have enough personal importance to do so. This internal battle with themselves is part of the reason they withdraw within themselves and numb the anger that arises.

How can you dig yourself out of this hole:

Anyone lucky enough to have a Type Nine in their life knows that fighting with a Nine is one of the most confusing situations on the planet. Since Type Nines will rarely state what is actually wrong (partly because they don't want to cause a riff and partly because their subconscious won't allow them to be aware of it), being in conflict with one can feel like walking in an open field and suddenly face-planting into a brick wall--you don't expect it, you don't know where it came from, and you don't know what to do with it. You'll know you're in a fight with a Type Nine when all of a sudden the chores aren't done, the texts aren't answered, your special grocery item is forgotten, etc...

If you find yourself in a position where you have clearly tread on a Nine's trigger-point of being unimportant (and if you were rude on top of it--yikes), apologize. Clean up your side of the street, make plans for what you'll do in the future, and follow through. Showing them that they DO matter--their feelings matter, their opinions matter, their time matters--will helps calm their internal storm and, maybe, even convince them to openly talk about what is going on. Do not expect them to process these conversations quickly or in emotional ways with you. Just own your part, give them time to open up (when and if they want to), and validate their feelings.

Scenario 2:

What you said: "You HAVE to do what I tell you to."

What they heard: "If you don't, we are going to fight and you'll lose me."

Why do they hear this?

Nines see conflict as not only something that disturbs their inner peace, but as a threat to their connection with others. As young children, they felt they needed to change themselves to be seen better and change what they want to be supported better (see the Object Relations Triad post for more information) to assure they would never be disconnected from others. With this as the core fear, Nines will do almost anything to avoid being disconnected. Almost....

That being said, Nines (as a proud member of the Anger Triad (with Eights and Ones),which boasts preoccupations with issues surrounding autonomy and injustice) still keenly feel this pressure as not only unjust but as a threat to their autonomy. The threat of conflict still keeps them from lashing out (since this could mean the end of all connection according to their internal narrative), but they will put up a fight the only way they know how--passive-aggressively (remember that brick wall??). From this stance, the triggered Nine can both disassociate (becoming emotionally distant and going vacant behind the eyes) and do their best impression of an immovable object (i.e. dig their heels in) to intimate their discontent.

How can you dig yourself out of this hole:

The best way to make peace with the ultimate peacemaker (and get some relief from passive-aggressive punishment) is to give the Nine space to make their own decisions. They may try to keep the peace at all costs, but they are not doormats and anything that reminds them of what they fear (being overlooked, mattering less-than others) and what they have given up (themselves, their preferences, opinions, feelings, etc..) will trigger this response.

You can avoid some of this drama by preemptively asking their opinion and giving them plenty of time to process what they would like to do. If you are talking to an already-triggered Nine, avoid any verbiage that threatens conflict and genuinely ask for their opinion with lots of built in time for them to think about it. Any pressure put on a Nine will likely just result in more stubbornness so be cognizant of how you approach them. For the most part, healthy Nines will take action when they need to and will appreciate not being pressured to do something.

Other Triggers to Avoid:

  • Being taken advantage of or told what to do.

  • Being overlooked or ignored.

  • Being directly confronted.

  • Conflict (or anything that disturbs their inner peace and harmony)

  • Rudeness to themselves or to others.

For more information on Object Relations or Instinctual Triads (Anger Triad), click on the links below.

For information on personal coaching sessions, email


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