Fine Distinctions – Sixes – Tom Condon

Fine Distinctions – Sixes – Tom Condon


Self Preservation Sixes

• Self-preservation Sixes can be warm and ingratiating; have a graceful, diplomatic sociability.
• Try to bring out the best in others and speak well of most people.
• Good communication skills; can tell people hard truths in a skillful or funny way.

• Generally more phobic than counter-phobic.
• Sensitive to using power fairly and constructively – not at someone else’s expense.
• Could be tough in negotiations but basically have a win-win attitude. Consider everyone an equal.
• Their home environment is especially important, home could feel like a feathered nest sheltering the Six from the world’s dangers and drubbings. • Good at practical tasks and managing the material details of living.
• Often habit-bound and want the elements in their world to be known and predictable.
• When less healthy, the Self-preservation Sixes’ personal warmth is more like a tactic, a kind of charm offensive meant to de-fang the imagined hostility of others.
• May actively worry about their ability to materially survive; catastrophic fantasies about material loss.
• If they sense aggression or disapproval in the environment, they counterphobically zero in on it. Then they use humor, charm, self- depreciation to make friends out of possible enemies.
• Might act ingratiating and vulnerable in a way that invites rescue.
• More nervously dependent than other Six subtypes.
• Less in touch with their own hostility, since that is the opposite of the weak, warm person they present themselves to be. Victimizing victim.
• Can take a “one down” position in relationships, non-verbally placating and beseeching, casting you into the role of an adult, making you the responsible, powerful one.

Intimate Sixes

• Lead disciplined lives that bring them strength – physical, emotional or spiritual. Being strong calms their fears.
• Creative; need to transform a harsh world into a beautiful one; often confused with Self preservation Fours.

• This subtype brings an artist’s eye and an aesthetic perspective, an acute awareness of beauty, a love of nature and landscape.
• Sixes with this subtype tend to act strong or alluring when insecure.
• More likely to be counterphobic; they take risks, talk tough, worry about looking weak, having their fears show.

• When beauty is the focus they try to seem attractive to contain fear, get approval and distract others.
• Some need to create and make things, to transform what they see and feel into something tangible.

• Can be image conscious; their preoccupation with beauty can mutate into personal vanity; a stronger connection to Three.
• May hide and contain their fears behind an attractive mask; a sense of protective distance and once-removed control.

• A defiant/aggressive life stance is possible, an imitation of strength.
• Anti-authoritarian and knee-jerk rebellious.
• Intimate Sixes may project their power onto a sexual partner or sexuality itself; some report feeling addicted to sex.
• Project power onto authorities and then fight with them.
• Can be reckless, impulsive and prone to bad judgment.
• Whatever the question the answer is no; can be mistaken for Eights.
• This subtype can conflict with the Self preservation impulse in Sixes. Being creatively daring, open and unguarded is at odds with surviving and staying safe.
• If self preservation Sixes are addicted to security, Intimate Sixes are addicted to insecurity.

Social Sixes

• Steadiness and stamina. Willing to work hard in a dedicated way; a sense of mission.
• Diplomatic; can say things and not say them at the same time.
• Social Sixes tend to be dutiful and especially dependent upon authority. • They are usually more often phobic than counterphobic.

• Idealistic; want to be of service to a group or a tradition.

• Take on responsibility for the cause and, to that end, do things willingly and well.
• When acting independently they will still refer to others in their mind for safety and agreement.

• Imagine that they can’t live without the group’s support.
• May think of themselves as a soldier in someone else’s army; a mentality of dutifulness that is akin to being a slave.
• Might romanticize the boss and then later tear him/her down.
• Passive/aggressive. The connection to Nine is stronger with this subtype.
• May become joiners, hiding within a group norm, concealing their sense of deviance by attacking those outside the group who are different.
• Their natural diplomacy devolves into a hesitant cowardice about stating their own position and taking independent stands.
• Catastrophic fantasy is of being banished from the group and being unable to survive.

Connecting Points: Six with a Five Wing

• Generally introverted and often intellectual.
• Can have many interests and a surprising range of competencies and skills.
• May be bookish; some are interested in history or feel rooted in the past or related to a long tradition.
• Can test potential friends for a long time but once you’re in, you‘re in – a friend for life.
• May use the strength of their minds to contain, distance or understand their fears. Afraid of the intensity of their emotions.
• They are often kinesthetic and auditory, especially auditory tonal – aware of and sensitive to tones of voice and the implications they carry.
• Intellectually curious and make take to psychotherapy and self- knowledge because it is interesting.
• They can be difficult to read and have a “tip of the iceberg” quality – revealing little but hinting at hidden dimensions and inner intensity.
• Can feel torn between needing to be seen and wanting to withdraw for protection.
• Can have a wary standoffish quality and project a willed remoteness. When afraid they can act arrogant, cryptic or cynical and aloof.
• Some are argumentative and litigious, even tending towards violence.

• Can be thin-skinned, sensitive to insults and slights and petty about keeping score: entertain conspiracy theories behind closed doors.
• May stand back and scrutinize events suspiciously. Sometimes their arrogance covers a sense of social shame.

• Can hide their affections and loyalties to be safe. Underneath they are romantic and idealistic.
• An ongoing tension between wanting to be dependent versus being independent.

• Might spend time alone worrying or plotting against their enemies, a kind of private paranoia.
• May also like secretive behind-the-scenes group activity. The realm of spies and espionage.

• Sneaky vengeance, passive/aggressive toward others, self-attacking and self-destructive at home.
• Can be passive aggressive as well as depressive, dour and humorless.

Six with a Seven Wing

• Generally outgoing, with a nervous quality.
• can be charming, sociable, ingratiating.
• Have a cheerful, forward-looking drive are curious about life and can be idealistic.
• Comedic gifts and a good sense of humor.
• Usually are more visual and talk faster than Sixes with a Five wing.
• Have an optimistic sunny outlook and focus on the positive.
• Some struggle with appetite and addiction.
• Can be self-contradicting, either simultaneously – by seeming to want two things at once – or sequentially – by asserting one thing and then taking the opposite position a moment later.
• When threatened, one defensive tactic is to become obviously unhappy but impossible to please.
• Counterphobic Sixes with this wing can be noticeably accusative or argumentative.
• Can become insecure, irritable, curmudgeonly, petty, irrational and chaotic.
• Subject to mood swings, inferiority complexes and runaway fears.
• May have hair-trigger flare-ups of paranoia. Can falsely accuse others and not seem to realize it.
• Focus on positive futures as a way to avoid present anxieties.

• Can be grandiose; create big plans that they are secretly afraid of and may later sabotage.
• Overtly paranoid Sixes usually have this wing.

Six’s Connection to Nine

• Brings brings faith, patience and the capacity to trust life.
• Sixes find their place in the larger order of existence, feel aligned with the Big Flow, part of the larger order of nature.
• Develop a friendlier safer image of the universe and feel like they belong to life.
• Can strengthen the Sixe’s sense of mission and connect her to a feeling of destiny and to the personal power necessary to fulfill it.
• The Six finds her courage as well as values worth being courageous for. • Healthy Nineish Sixes experience faith, not as a concept but as a body feeling.
• When Sixes are in touch with this connection they may experience a more mystical sense of spirituality rather than the authority structure of an organized religion.
• They may also respond more strongly to nature and a sense of place or land.
• They search for their own true feelings instead of relying on outside authorities to tell them what to do.
• More likely to live in the present.
• Can become numb, spaced-out and lazy.
• Fractured, chaotic thinking. Go in circles; a Nine does this to avoid focused action while a Six is avoiding independent action that may provoke attack.
• Merge dependently with their environment, more passive towards authority, may be noncommittal or ambivalent in relationships
• Nine-like Sixes can get habit-bound, rut-prone, cautious and stuck. They take comfort in making things predictable, embracing little rituals and habits, trying to avoid taking risks.
• Sixes can also procrastinate like Nines, going in circles, obsessing about everything except the most obvious step to take. The motivation is to avoid claiming their own power.
• They may procrastinate, forgetting about things that have tangible consequence. Then they wake up and hyperactively save the day.

Six’s Connection to Three

• Brings Sixes self-confidence, productivity and skillfulness.
• The will and focus to finish what they start.
• Able to make decisions and take action, sometimes exhibiting leadership qualities.
• Brings an optimistic sense of possibility.
• This connection also supports a striking professionalism.
• Highly capable, if not always completely confident.
• Many have good organizational and administrative talents.
• They are also strong on quality control – what they do, they do well. They feel affirmed by what they produce.
• Threeish Sixes can have a con artist streak.
• They want to appear different than they are; hide their deviance with charm.
• May mock and revile success but secretly envy it in others.
• They can immerse themselves in activity as a way to manage anxiety, especially when counterphobic.
• Sixes are also prone to Three-like compensatory hyperactivity – they go in circles and do too much, especially when under stress.
• Can stab you in the back, while believing they are the victim. Or present a meek front while conspiring behind the scenes.
• They are competitive and want to best others but hide such motives to appear likable.
• Can become the unfair authority whom they would ordinarily fear.
• Perform well mainly to avoid criticism, especially from authorities.
• Ambitious for what they should want – based on the expectations and opinions of others – but out of touch with what they do want.
• Very unhealthy Sixes have more conscience than very unhealthy Threes, but they still can be manipulative, calculating and vengeful.


Excerpted from The Dynamic Enneagram by Tom Condon

Copyright 2009, 2013 by Thomas Condon

Available as an ebook serial at Tom’s website


Tom Condon has worked with the Enneagram since 1980 and with Ericksonian hypnosis and NLP since 1977. These three models are combined in his trainings to offer a useful collection of tools for changing and growing, to apply the Enneagram dynamically, as a springboard to positive change. Tom has taught over 800 workshops in the US, Europe and Asia and is the author of 50 CDs, DVDs and books on the Enneagram, NLP and Ericksonian methods. He is founder and director of The Changeworks in Bend, Oregon.

One Response to Fine Distinctions – Sixes – Tom Condon

  1. Stephanie McComb says:

    Fantastic, as usual, Tom!
    Thank you

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