5s and 6s can cause confusion because both types are formed in the Mental Center of Intelligence. As a result, both type 5 and 6 process their experience through thinking and planning, and both share the emotion of fear as a cornerstone of their types. In addition, 5s and 6s are directly next to one another; hence, they are wings of one another. This means that there is likely a bit of type 5 in every type 6 and a bit of type 6 in every type 5. And if there is more than a “bit”” – in other words, the wing is a strong wing – the confusion between the types increases.
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 | deal with fear
Is your basic strategy for dealing with fear to withdraw, observe and strategize, taking action only when needed or is it to think quickly and plan for all contingencies, sometimes taking action too quickly and sometimes too slowly?
Listen for this
Type 5 | 5s observe first and strategize second. In fact, they may observe and contemplate what is going on for a long time before acting. 5s are rarely prone to quick action, although they may sometimes act too slowly. And they rarely plan for all contingencies.
Type 6 | 6s, when afraid – which happens quite often, particularly with self-preservation and social subtype 6s – go rapidly into multi-facet thinking mode and ultra-contingency planning. The greater the fear, the more their heads spin. Sometimes they take fast action, sometimes their fast action is more impulsive than strategic, and sometimes they get paralyzed due to not knowing exactly what to do.
Question approach | remote or intense
Do you perceive yourself as a more remote person who doesn’t generally show others what you are thinking and feeling or are you more of an intense person who is easily “read” by others due to verbal expressiveness, body language, or both.
Listen for this
Type 5 | 5s are a “cool” enneatype who have perfected not showing to others what is going on with them internally. They can do this – not be at all transparent – because they are so private that they don’t want anyone to know what they are thinking or feelings. It’s known as a “poker face” that cannot be easily read. In addition, because 5s disconnect from their feelings most of the time unless they have done a great deal of development work, being opaque is relatively simple. Without a lot of feelings running thru them, there’s not a lot to see in their non-verbal behavior. And most 5s choose with deliberation when to share and to not share.
Type 6 | 6s are usually highly intense, even if they sometimes think of themselves as more mellow. As a result, when you ask them whether or not they are ‘cool” versus intense, if they say “cool,” ask them what others would say.
Question approach | relationship with authority figures
With someone who is in authority, do you distrust them only if they have proven themselves untrustworthy and also have no expectation that they will keep you safe, or do you not really trust authority but do expect them to keep you safe and secure?
Listen for this
Type 5 |5s observe authority figures to try to figure out what they are going to do, but it is not a pre-occupation with them. And they certainly don’t expect authority figures to keep them safe. 5s keep themselves safe by withdrawing and observing.
Type 6 | 6s watch authority figures closely and frequently in order to anticipate what authorities might do that could cause them or others harm. 6s also may try to befriend authority figures to show their loyalty so authority figures will be more likely treat them well. 6s will also combat authority figures, particularly 1-1 subtype 6s, to prove their own strength and courage or to protect others. However, at the same time, 6s look to authority figures to keep them safe, while also believing authorities won’t do so.
On my website, TheEnneagramInBusiness.com, there is a special section titled “Enneagram Style Differentiators,“ where you can click on types 5 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