Type 4s and 6s are very different, and most often, these two types do not cause confusion. And yet, sometimes they do. And when they do, here is why. 4s and 6s are both part of what is referred to as the “intensity” triad, a grouping of the Enneagram types that has in common the tendency to come across as intense in their general demeanor and the way they interact with others. The other reason is that 4s engage in “emotional push pull” with others (particularly in close relationships), while 6s can move toward and then move away from others, not necessarily only with those with whom they are close.
Note: The other two triads are the ”positive outlook triad” of 7, 9, and 2, who tend to look at life optimistically (even more than it might actually be), and the “competency triad” of 1, 3, and 5, three types for whom feeling competent and being perceived as competent is highly important.
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 | heart or head
Do you relate to your experiences primarily from your heart or emotions, or from your head or thinking?
Listen for this
Type 4 | 4s relate to almost everything emotionally. They can, however, get into excessive mental thinking, but this is primarily when they are trying to analyze uncomfortable feelings as a way to understand or make them have less impact.
Type 6 | 6s are thinking almost all the time, and when they are not, they often start thinking about thinking. In addition, while 6s do think about their feelings and analyze them, they pretty much think about everything. This makes it hard for them to relax, but they often enjoy the complexity of their own minds.
Question approach | deep or complex
Do you perceive yourself and do others view you as more of a very deep person or more as a complex person?
Listen for this
Type 4 | 4s usually experience themselves as very deep, symbolic people – deep in feeling, thought, and nuance. Although they may also be complex, deep is a better description.
Type 6 | 6s may be deep, but they are more aptly described as complex and even complicated. They often consider every possibility, like puzzles – life puzzles or real ones; they often prefer chess to checkers – where they can figure out the many possibilities, how to navigate the best ones, and so on.
Question approach | fun
What do you do for fun?
Listen for this
Type 4 | 4s can be very serious and intense, but they also really enjoy having fun and can get quite silly and playful. They will likely have several answers to this question and will likely enjoy answering it.
Type 6 | 6s want to have fun, but most 6s will find this question perplexing and will have to think about it a great deal. Many 6s say they don’t have much fun because it is hard for them to relax enough to go enjoy themselves without having a purpose – fun for fun’s sake may not be in their vocabulary. Or a 6 might say they read, think or watch serious TV shows or documentaries for fun. Some 6s may look at you and say, fun? What’s that?
On my website, TheEnneagramInBusiness.com, there is a special section titled “Enneagram Style Differentiators,“ where you can click on types 4 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