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Trigger Series: Type Six

We've all done it. Started a casual conversation with someone that suddenly turned into an all out fight. What happened? If you TRULY don't know (and it wasn't one of the usual suspects of sex, politics, and money), then you might have stepped on a Trigger for this Type. Read on for tips on how to translate the conversation in a Type Six's language and better understand how to navigate a path forward.

Scenario 1:

What you said: "It'll be fine! Stop worrying!"

What they heard: "I'm not listening to your concerns and I haven't thought through all the potential problems"

Why do they hear this?

At their core, Sixes believe that the world is an unsafe place, which requires constant vigilance and planning to safeguard against potential disasters. Testing scenarios for pitfalls and people for hidden agendas and inauthenticity help Sixes feel they are planning and preparing for when the other shoe drops. Though they often come across as Debbie-downers and worst-case-scenario thinkers, Sixes see themselves as practical, pragmatic, and prepared. Any dismissal of their fears feels to Sixes as a dismissal of themselves, what they believe they need to feel safe, and a signifier that others have not considered the potential problems (and are therefore unsafe).

Sixes will allow this kind of unpreparedness more in friends than they will in spouses, team leaders, and bosses who could negatively impact a Six's safety with their lack of preparation and fore-thought. Essentially, the more their own safety is negatively impacted by the unpreparedness of others, the more activated they will become by the dismissals.

How can you dig yourself out of this hole:

Sixes have very little tolerance for dismissals of their disaster-preparations and will likely tell you as much just as the rest of their Reactive Triad counterparts would (Fours and Eights). As a Reactive, Sixes will call out into the room their concerns with the situation (especially if no one else will) and pepper the leader with questions to test the plan for weaknesses.

If you have triggered a Six this way, the best way to reconcile and move forward is to acknowledge the problems they bring up, allow them to think through every possible scenario that could go wrong, and encourage them to use their amazing problem solving skills to make plans to mitigate these. In those scenarios when pointing out ALL the potential problems only creates more anxiety, helping them see that they have the skills inside them to handle pretty much anything that is thrown at them is another great way to help process the scenario without spinning out of control.

As with their Type Five counterparts, quickly addressing issues with a Type Six is of great importance. Sixes, being a Head Type, process information through their heads and are prone to going into a type of hyperdrive over-analyzing that can blow situations out of proportion. When dealing with Sixes, be direct, transparent, honest, and quick to acknowledge issues. They are incredibly loyal people, but also amazing B.S. detectors with a low-tolerance for anything that smacks of deceit.

Scenario 2:

What you said: "This isn't that complicated. I need you to make a decision now!"

What they heard: "You're bad at making decisions and now you don't have time to make a good decision."

Why do they hear this?

Sixes can struggle to make decisions and to have confidence in the decisions that they end up making. When they feel that others are both putting pressure on them to move quickly and implying that they should be able to do this quickly (thus questioning their competence) Sixes can become activated (triggered). This activation stems from feeling dependent on others (a paradox for Sixes because they want support but not dependence), and unprepared for the dangers ahead.

Some of their insecurity in their own decision making stems from their insecure relationship with their Protector figure and how the support they received seemed to be dependent on what they pursued (See the Object Relations post for more in-depth information) and never resulted in true differentiation and inner confidence. Later in life, Sixes will recreate this outside support by employing the "inner-committee"--a raucous collection of opinions, advice, and beliefs they pick up over the years to include those they both agree with and don't agree with. Ultimately, this inner-committee causes chaos for the Six's decision-making since they have to weigh each decision against what everyone (including that one crazy uncle) might advise. Putting pressure, then, on a Six to make decisions (especially in stressful situations) will only cause more stress and reactivity--not more clarity.

How can you dig yourself out of this hole:

If you have accidentally put too much pressure on the Six for a decision, you'll probably know. They may withdraw if you are not in physical proximity, but they will likely display to you in no uncertain terms that you have over-stepped if you're near them. Give them space to process at that point and listen to them when they are ready to talk.

Talking to Sixes when they are in a reactive state can be difficult because they will likely hit you with all of their projections (their Defense Mechanism where internal feelings, motivations, and thought processes are disowned and attributed to others). Telling them that they are crazy in those moments is not advised (probably a good general rule to leave the term "crazy" out of most conflicts), though letting them know that you see things differently at this time, but you would feel the same way if the situation was as they said.

Always approach a Six with authenticity and warmth as they are both looking for connection and fearful of being betrayed by someone with hidden motives. Remind Sixes that they are incredibly gifted problem-solvers and they can handle anything thrown at them not only because of their own resources but because you will be with them.

Other Triggers to Avoid:

  • Being blamed, targeted, or accused unfairly.

  • Inauthenticity in others.

  • Being put under pressure (especially for decisions)

  • Seeing others lacking loyalty and follow-through.

  • Their anxieties being dismissed

  • Being lied to.


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