Sometimes people do get confused as to whether they are type 1 or type 5, and this lack of clarity does make sense. Both 1s and 5s are part of the “competency trio” (along with type 3), meaning of all the 9 types, 1s, 3s, and 5s care most about feeling competent themselves and being perceived as competent by others. 3s are the most readily distinguishable of this triad because competence in their minds is defined as getting results. For 1s, competence is about being right, whereas for 5s, competence means knowledge-based competence. One way to understand the distinction between competence for type 1s versus type 5s is that “being right” for 1s has to be with just about everything from the way they think to how they plan and execute, as well as their opinions. For 5s, competence is what they know, which they do not regard as opinions but view as facts (even if they are opinions). In other words, competence for 5s is not so much an issue for them about planning and doing but is more singularly focused on what they believe they know.
That said, here are some differentiating questions that you might find useful. Two caveats for the questions to work effectively: (1) the question only works if the person has narrowed down the possible types to these two only and (2) once the question is asked and the answer is offered, it really matters that the guider/teacher/coach understands the meaning of what is being said.
Question approach | energy and boundaries
Are you willing – and even think it is your responsibility – to consistently work extra hours if necessary to get something right or do you strongly prefer to set and keep exact boundaries on the amount of time you are willing to spend on something?
Listen for this
Type 1 | 1s, even when tired, are more than willing – even if they feel resentful about this overtime – to spend any and all extra hours on projects or tasks to make sure all the information is correct, that it is executed properly, and that there are no mistakes of any kind. In other words, they go over the details completely and feel personably responsible for delivering a product that is as close to perfect as possible.
Type 5 | 5s are strong boundary setters because their energy becomes extremely depleted with too much work, too much interaction with others, and a number of other factors. They know that if they extend past their allotted time or set-boundaries, they will feel utterly drained of vitality and energy. So while 5s like things to be done well, they neither have the reserves to consistently put in these extraordinary hours, nor the sense of responsibility that they must always do so (on occasion, yes, they will; as a matter of normal working, no).
Question approach | self control versus self containment
Do you experience yourself as exerting self-restraint or self-control so that you don’t show or express anger or displeasure to others and keep yourself on the path to appropriate behavior, or are you self-contained where you keep your energy and responses more within yourself so that people – especially those who don’t know you extremely well – find you “hard to read?”
Listen for this
Type 1 | 1s believe that “good” and polite people don’t show anger directly, although 1s do relate to feeling frustrated or upset, yet try to control its outward expression. However, in most cases, others find 1s fairly easy to read, as their displeasure often appears through body language (grimaces and frowns) and through their voice tone. In terms of other emotions such as joy, sadness and anxiety, 1s are reasonably transparent as they may express these emotions verbally or show them through non-verbal cues, even to people who don’t know them well.
Type 5 | 5s are masters of self-containment, with low-level animation in their voices, and non-verbal behavior. This, combined with their consistent and automatic disconnection from feelings, makes them challenging for most people to read based on their external cues.
Question approach | doing versus thinking
When approaching a situation that potentially requires some action, do you get an immediate gut sense of what to do and then use your mind to establish the rationale and then quickly take action, or do you rely on your mind to understand and analyze the situation and take the time you believe you need to determine what action to take?
Listen for this
Type 1 | 1s usually have an immediate gut reaction in terms of what to do (believing this is likely the right way to proceed), analyze quickly to create the related rationale, and then move to action quite quickly, enjoying the ability to fix something or solve the problem. In this sense, action originates from their Body or Gut Center.
Type 5 | 5s, in general, don’t move to quick action (far more slowly when compared to 1s) as 5s usually want to collect and analyze all the relevant information before they determine what action to take. In this sense, action stems from their Mental Center.
On my website, TheEnneagramInBusiness.com, there is a special section titled “Enneagram Style Differentiators,” where you can click on types 1 and 5 to read about how they are similar and different. This section may stimulate additional differentiating questions you can ask. Click here to be directed to this section.
Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, the author of four best-selling Enneagram-business books, is a speaker, consultant, trainer, and coach. She provides certification programs for professionals around the world who want to bring the Enneagram into organizations with high-impact business applications, and is past-president of the International Enneagram Association. Visit her website: TheEnneagramInBusiness.com. firstname.lastname@example.org