The Social Six

The Keepers of the Flame

Subtypes are important because they often enable you to recognize yourself more easily, but even more so because they are a real source of "juice." If you know your subtype, you'll soon see that when your subtype is threatened in some way, you get a lot of energy.

Your subtype changes the preoccupations but not the major mechanisms of the type. The Six will react with fear and practice hyper vigilance in a fearful world, no matter what the subtype. But what frightens them and how they react to the fear will be subtly different.

Let's look at the social subtype of Six. Each subtype has been given a key word by the tradition. The word for the social subtype of Six is "duty."

Social subtypes in general have a preoccupation about where they stand in the group. They want to know who belongs: who is in, who is out, who's on top, and in the case of the Six, what are the rules of the group.

Social Sixes sees the authority in the group as critical. They may easily play devil's advocate, but they will never ignore authority. The group may be family, church, school or tradition. An Enneagram teacher who is a Six will learn what the teaching of the tradition is and will want to make sure you get the authentic tradition and not just their private interpretation. A Six researcher will find out what all the authorities say before making a judgment. They may attack those positions, but they will never ignore them. When a social Six breaks rules (and they certainly might), they never break them accidentally. They know the rules. They do it on purpose.

This attitude toward group and authority can make them quite traditional. These folk are the keepers of the flame. They're the ones that show the home movies of when their children were babies - often. They never forget anniversaries, they know just how Thanksgiving dinner ought to be done and they insist on using their mother's favorite recipe.

In the workplace, these are the company men who work 35 years for the same company and wear the jacket with the company logo on it after they retire. They may not like their job, but they'd sooner stay and complain than leave. It just isn't right to leave the group. Nor is it safe. They can over identify with the group and even shun or persecute others who do not share their group's ideals. Sometimes you'll find religious fundamentalists with this subtype. They love to quote "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life," and then say that everyone else is going to hell. (I love to quote the opposite text to them, ""Who is not against us is with us. Mark 9:40) social Sixes can be overly conscious of boundaries in order to make sure they belong. It's a small step from making sure "I belong" to being sure that "I don't belong."

They can tend to exaggerate their dependence on the group. This makes them great team players because they can put the group's needs ahead of their private good. I once did a survey of Nuns and found that 40% of them were Sixes. My group sample was small, about 400, but it does seem to fit. Community life is probably more attractive to social Sixes than many other styles.

The downside of group loyalty is that communities don't appreciate the contribution of the social Six unless the authorities give concrete form to that appreciation. The workforce is filled with complaints about how the company or community doesn't appreciate what they have done for 20 years.

Social Sixes love to work in a group but usually prefer not to be the leader. The belief from childhood is that all attention is bad attention so they prefer to be down the ladder of authority a ways. Number two is fine, three is just as good, as long as they are important to the group and supported by the authority.

Sixes can work forever if they believe in the cause. The cause hooks their idealism, they feel united to the group in some way or other and the cause usually has a lot of rules. For example, if a Six is an environmentalist, they can do a million earth-friendly things and feel part of the group with every recycled can.

Because Sixes are simultaneously idealistic and skeptical, they often idealize an authority or a cause and then set themselves up for disillusionment. One has to have illusions before one can be disillusioned. Social Sixes have them. But they also have an attention style that looks for danger, conspiracy, inconsistency and patterns behind the data. So if the authority is doing anything wrong on any level, the Six will certainly catch them at it. That can cause disillusion.


  1. Tom Condon's Video Guide has surgically precise descriptions of the subtypes. Then he suggests movies that illustrate that type. If you know your type, watching several of his movie suggestions can be revelatory.
  2. Are You My Type, Am I Yours has lovely, concrete descriptions of subtypes.
  3. John the Baptist is a social Six in the New Testament. Read the first few chapters of any of the synoptic gospels in this light and see what you think.


  1. How many groups do you belong to? How active are you?
  2. How well is your group run by the people in charge?
  3. What would happen to you if you were to leave one/some/all of these groups?
  4. How many anniversaries/birthdays can you list from memory?