Enneagram Type 6 - The Loyal Skeptic
Sixes are mental types who use their perception and intellect to understand the world and figure out whether other people are friendly or hostile. They focus on guarding the safety of the group, project or community. Sixes are good at anticipating problems and coming up with solutions. Knowing the rules and making agreements with other people is important, yet at the same time they tend to doubt themselves and question others. They can oscillate between skepticism and certainty, rebel or true believer.
Some Sixes are in the "cautious" mode; they hesitate, they worry a lot, and they procrastinate. Other Sixes prefer to stay in the "strength" mode: they rush into action and they seek to brace themselves physically or ideologically as a way of overcoming their fear. As Sixes learn to trust themselves as well as other people, they become more flexible and they develop the courage to act even in the presence of doubt or ambivalence.
Strengths: Loyal, courageous, attentive to people and problems; often strategic thinkers
Problems: Suspicious, pessimistic, doubtful
Speaking style: Setting limits on themselves and others, having serious questions, and playing devil's advocate. Sometimes ideologically zealous.
Lower emotional habit: Suspicion or distrust, which can lead either to fearfulness and holding back or an aggressive and pushy attitude
Higher emotion: Courage, which is not bravado but rather means feeling the fear and moving forward anyway
Archetypal challenge: To sustain faith in other people and the life force, and to overcome the mind/body split
Psychological defenses: Sixes use the defense mechanism of projection to avoid personal rejection and maintain a self image of being"loyal." (Projection is a way of attributing to others what one can't accept in oneself, both positive and negative qualities).
Somatic patterns: The cautious or phobic Sixes have fear covering their aggression and their body-based instincts. They tend to worry and hesitate. By contrast, the counter-phobic Sixes have aggression on top of their fear. They tend to rush forward, bracing themselves physically or mentally to prepare for the risks. (Many Sixes go back and forth from cautious to counter-phobic). In terms of body armor, the eyes can be suspicious and guarded, or fearful and protruding. Myopia is common. The diaphragm can hold a lot of tension, resulting in a staccato or halting style of speech and movement.
Tips for Relating
To create rapport: Appreciate their attention to problems; agree on rules and procedures
Try to avoid: Changing the rules abruptly, withholding information or discounting their concerns
Join them: Acknowledging what can go wrong before moving ahead
To handle conflict: Put your cards on the table as much as possible. Don't be ambiguous. Challenge them to take responsibility for their reactions instead of coming up with external reasons. Refuse to take on their projections. When they feel threatened, they may be antagonistic or withdraw. At times they are testing others to see if they will prove reliable.
To support their growth: Help Sixes to face their fears directly, get reality checks, and ask for personal support. When possible, get them to see the humor in situations. Provide enough safety to get them to relax their mental scanning operation and get more into their bodies and feelings.