Enneagram Type 6: Description and Characteristics
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What Is an Enneagram Personality Type?
The Enneagram is a method of personality testing that maps nine personality types onto a circular diagram. It focuses on emotional reactions and feelings.
The origin of the Enneagram is unclear. Some say it has roots in Babylonian times, while others see it in Greek philosophy – and the personality types are described quite accurately in Dante’s Divine Comedy, but the system we recognize and use today is a more recent 20th-century creation.
Each of the nine personality types can be defined as a core belief about the way a person views the world, their world view and perspectives, what motivates them and what fears they have.
Every person who uses the Enneagram has a core type. There are connecting lines to other types, providing a snapshot of where the person is now, and giving a good idea about where they have come from and how they can grow.
Although the Enneagram has some spiritual and religious connotations, it is most often used with a focus on psychology, making it similar to the Myers-Briggs test.
As a personality test, it is used for personal development through self-knowledge, and can help employers identify training opportunities.
To find out your Enneagram type, you will be presented with a number of statements. You need to rate each one based on how much it describes you on a five-point scale from 'completely agree' through to 'completely disagree'.
The answers you provide will plot you on the Enneagram, which is a circle with nine sections. Each personality type is spread equally around the circumference of the circle.
Your answers are likely to point to an obvious core type, which is known as your Enneagram type. To really understand your personal Enneagram, you can also take note of the two types either side – these are known as 'wings'.
There should also be two straight lines forming an equilateral triangle from your core type. One of these lines demonstrates your past and what you are like when under stress; the other shows your growth direction or what you are like when you are performing at your best.
Each of the nine personality types is grouped into one of three types – heart, head and body.
People who are heart types tend to react using their emotions and connect with others and the world around them through empathy. They are most often directly guided by feelings.
- Type 2: The Giver
- Type 3: The Achiever
- Type 4: The Individualist
The head types usually react after analyzing the situation and are more likely to connect to others on an intellectual basis. Feelings are not as important in assessing the world around them; instead, they use theories and systems.
- Type 5: The Investigator
- Type 6: The Skeptic
- Type 7: The Enthusiast
In a similar way to heart types, body types react instinctively, but they tend to look for connections based on comfort and use the reactions of the body (senses, gut feeling) to understand the way the world works.
- Type 8: The Challenger
- Type 9: The Peacemaker
- Type 1: The Perfectionist
What Is an Enneagram Type 6?
The Enneagram Type 6 is commonly known as The Skeptic or The Questioner, and while they are known to be loyal to their friends and to authority that they trust, they are also regarded as suspicious and wary. It is considered that Type 6 people are motivated by fear and the idea that the glass is usually half empty.
Type 6 people are always looking for safety and security, so they are great at:
- Anticipating and avoiding risk
- Being organized
- Focusing on getting the details right
They want support and reassurance that their situation is not at risk and might need consistent positive feedback to understand that they are doing a good job.
However, this can manifest as avoiding making big decisions and letting doubt and mistrust rule their problem-solving abilities.
As friends and colleagues, the natural cynicism of Type 6 people can make them witty and funny, and they are naturally hard working. Loyalty and a deep caring attitude to the important people in their lives translates to excellent teamwork and support for friends, colleagues and authority figures who support them.
As a Head Type, the Skeptic is always analyzing situations. This can sometimes lead to a focus on the worst-case scenario – but they are intelligent people who have proven theories about the way the world tends to work.
These systems might be pessimistic in nature, but they serve the Type 6 by helping them avoid situations that threaten their safety and security.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Strengths of a Type 6
Type 6 people are fiercely loyal to those they trust, and this makes them great additions to any team. As friends and colleagues, they will go the extra mile to protect the ones they love.
Their natural proclivity for avoiding any situation that could have a negative impact on safety and security is extended to the ones they care for, be that friends, colleagues or authority.
A Type 6 might be cynical, but is also sharp and witty, with intellectual connections and discussions the norm.
Having a Type 6 in a work team means all the details will be taken care of. They are scrupulous about organization, especially around financial matters, and their risk aversion makes them analytical in their approach to any challenge.
The Skeptic might question everything, but when they feel comfortable and secure in an employment situation or a work team, they will put in the hard graft to ensure that everyone is on the same page, working precisely to make sure that projects are delivered on time.
Analytical Type 6s tend to use their natural risk aversion to anticipate problems well ahead of time – and this makes them great additions to a team. They can quickly weigh up a situation and decide on the safest course of action.
At its best, a team including a Type 6 will have plans for any scenario.
Weaknesses of a Type 6
The risk-averse nature of the Type 6 can make them suffer with anxiety. Worrying about the worst-case scenario, they can miss opportunities and ‘play it safe’ to avoid anything that threatens their personal security.
Natural pessimism and catastrophizing are a dangerous combination for the Skeptic and can lead to problems making decisions.
The Type 6 can come across as having no faith in themselves or in their own abilities, and this can make them avoid putting themselves forward for anything – whether that is a promotion or taking responsibility for others.
This insecurity leads them to constantly look for positive feedback and support from others, especially authority figures.
Constantly analyzing situations to avoid risk can lead to paralysis, with the Type 6 unable to make decisions because of the perceived danger.
Although they are conscientious about supporting others, without their own reassurance they can find it overwhelming to deal with making big decisions. This is because they want to avoid any outcome that challenges the status quo, especially their own safety.
This can lead to big, necessary changes being put off indefinitely.
Growth Strategies for an Enneagram Type 6
The naturally suspicious Type 6 will be wary of any feedback that is not transparent. They are always looking for something that seems wrong in any situation.
Therefore, they need valid, constructive feedback and reassurance. If you are a Type 6, you will always feel like you are on the lookout for changes in other people’s behavior that might indicate there is a problem – and then worry about it and try to avoid making it worse and further threaten your security.
If you work with a Type 6, you will want to make sure they understand exactly what you need from them and provide them with consistent information and, most importantly, reassurance.
Focus On Small, Easy-To-Achieve Changes
Working on positive growth means making decisions. While Type 6 people are not good at making big decisions, shifting the focus to things they can change will have a positive effect.
Their loyalty and teamwork skills are a real asset. These strengths should help create a situation where small changes can add up to making a big decision without too much accompanying anxiety.
Champion Positive Thinking
Moving away from a naturally negative, pessimistic mindset is not an easy thing to do. However, with the right support systems in place, even the most cynical Type 6 can have a more positive outlook on life.
To make the most of this, a Type 6 needs reassurance and support, with a focus on rewarding positive thinking and especially decision-making.
Constant analysis of a situation can lead to paralysis – and this looks like procrastination.
A Type 6 will be mistrustful of a new situation and will have already mapped out in their heads the possible outcomes of making a decision. This natural propensity to focus on the worst-case scenario leads to inaction.
With support and reassurance from a trusted authority figure to break down big problems into more manageable, smaller decisions, the Type 6 can move forward and minimize the catastrophizing that leads to procrastination.
Be Aware of Self-Fulfilling Prophecies
When you are fully aware of what can go wrong in a given situation, it is unfortunately easy to let something happen and be able to say, ‘I told you so’.
The cynical, pessimistic Type 6 will always be aware that the glass is half empty, and this can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy situation – especially when inaction is the cause of the issue.
The Skeptic needs to move away from always looking for the worst-case scenario to grow and develop. There will be times where a risk needs to be taken to move forward.
Work Through the Anxiety
As a Head Type, the Skeptic spends a lot of time thinking about things – and they need to find a way to escape their own head.
This could be meditation, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or taking up some form of exercise like yoga or walking.
For some Type 6 personalities, natural anxiety is not easy to avoid, so for proper growth they need a strategy to work with.
Self-care should be a part of everyday life, with healthy habits like nutritious food and plenty of fresh air and exercise as a focus.
It is also important for a Type 6 to ‘switch off’ and get enough rest, without anxious concerns about what could go wrong at any given moment.
While it might seem that a Type 6 is a more negative personality type, they make a great addition to any team because of their particular, detail-oriented nature.
Type 6 people might be natural skeptics, but their cynical nature makes them witty and sharp with people they feel comfortable with. And, when it is needed, they would go to the ends of the Earth to help their colleagues and friends.
The way a Type 6 assesses situations constantly can mean that they are always on high alert and in a constant state of anxiety, but with the right support they can channel this in a more positive way and begin looking for the positive outcomes from making decisions.
When in a team, this can only have good outcomes. The organized Type 6 will have already analyzed every possible scenario and be ready to move forward.
Like any personality type found in the Enneagram, the Type 6 has positive and negative traits, but with the right support and motivation in place, they can feel secure enough to develop and grow.