The confusion between type 3 and type 6 can happen, although it is not that common. 3s and 6s are on arrow lines to one another, so there may be some aspects of type 6 in every 3 and some qualities of 3 in every 6. In addition, the self-preserving subtype of type 3 is called “security,” and these 3s are sometimes more visibly anxious (and aware of it) than are the other two subtypes of 3. This can make self-preservation 3s wonder if they might not be 6s rather than a 3.
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 | results
Do you like results more than planning or planning more than results? And even if you like both, if you had to choose which generates more excitement in you, would it be results or planning?
Listen for this
Type 3 | For 3s, the result is central, while the plan is a means to that end. So 3s will almost always light up about getting a positive result they intended. They also like plans, but the result is their end goal; the plan is the means toward the goal.
Type 6 | For 6s, the result is important, but the planning process is what engages and energizes them. They like to figure out contingencies, construct different pathways, and anticipate obstacles as a way to generate ways to overcome them.
Question approach | feelings and anxiety, in particular
Do you tend to not feel your feelings that much on a daily basis and, in particular, bypass anxieties you might have by breathing into your upper chest and acting confident, or do you normally have an array of feelings, particularly anxiety or concerns as well as other emotions?
Listen for this
Type 3 | 3s do not like feeling feelings too often or too deeply, as they perceive emotions, both theirs and others, as more of a distraction from getting things done. Anxiety is particularly troubling for 3s, since they perceive anxiety as the opposite and an obstacle to their displays of confidence. 3s, in general, push their feelings to the side, even though they are a type formed in the Heart or Emotional Center of Intelligence.
Type 6 | Most 6s are more emotionally intense than most 3s because their head spins round with concerns or creative problem solving, depending on their subtype and other factors. Most 6s – except the highly counter-phobic 6s who deal with feeling, and particularly anxiety, by going straight into risky behavior to prove they are fearless – are intense emotionally and their feelings and thoughts become so intertwined they may have difficulty separating them.
Question approach | planning
When facing a challenge or opportunity that you want to pursue, do you focus on creating an effective and efficient plan to reach your goals, taking most pleasure in the result, or do you focus on developing multiple pathways or plans that achieve the result, with the multiple plans taking into account various contingencies or potential obstacles?
Listen for this
Type 3 | Most 3s develop plans easily to achieve their endgame, but they tend to make them simple, relatively complete, and assume some there will not be very many obstacles. Their excitement comes less from planning and more from the result.
Type 6 | 6s are idealistic realists who expect that obstacles may appear on the path to the end goal, anticipate these impediments as part of their planning, and then develop multiple plans or a main plan with several alternative contingency arrangements. Figuring all this out excites them, like a strategic game of chess.
On my website, TheEnneagramInBusiness.com, there is a special section titled “Enneagram Style Differentiators,“ where you can click on types 3 and 6 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 six 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