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The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People's Lives Better, Too) Hardcover – September 12, 2017
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“The Four Tendencies will immediately improve every area of your life—and I say this from personal experience. If you’ve been feeling stuck in your relationships, career, health, or self-confidence, understanding your Tendency and how to make it work for you is the game-changer you’ve been looking for.”
—Melissa Hartwig (Upholder), author and cocreator of The Whole30
"The path to happiness starts with your personality. In The Four Tendencies, Gretchen Rubin upends the conventional wisdom of one prescription fitting all people and offers readers a tailored path to better health, relationships and well-being. A remarkable read from one of the most practical storytellers on the planet."
—Tom Rath (Questioner), author of Are You Fully Charged? and StrengthsFinder 2.0
“This Rebel can’t help but agree with the crowd: you need to read The Four Tendencies! The online quiz is mega-popular for good reason, but the book will give you unexpected, lasting insights. You'll learn to make better decisions based on what works best for your specific personality profile—not what anyone else expects or demands.”
—Chris Guillebeau (Rebel), author of Side Hustle and host of the podcast Side Hustle School
“The Four Tendencies is a remarkably well-crafted and insightful book. Gretchen Rubin taught me why, as a Rebel, my expectations often clash with others’ expectations and helped me develop a more compassionate view. Better still, The Four Tendencies offers powerful steps that we can all take to have more constructive relationships with the people in our lives.”
—Robert Sutton (Rebel), Stanford Professor and author of The Asshole Survival Guide: How to Deal with People Who Treat You Like Dirt
“The greatest predictor of growth and happiness is actionable self-knowledge. Gretchen Rubin gives you the tools to not only understand yourself and others, but what to do with that knowledge. Insightful, practical and crucial, The Four Tendencies will help you overcome the biggest impediments to your happiness and success.”
—Shawn Achor (Upholder), author of The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness
“Gretchen Rubin has discovered a new framework for understanding ourselves and other people. When we know our Tendency, we can manage ourselves more effectively and reach our goals faster—and we can help others to do that, as well. As a researcher who has studied habits, addiction, and change for 20 years, I’m excited by the simplicity and power of The Four Tendencies as a tool for anyone seeking to make his or her life better. I am implementing this in my clinical programs to help people understand their Tendencies so they can change behaviors such as stress and emotional eating.”
—Judson Brewer, MD, PhD (Questioner), author of The Craving Mind and associate professor in medicine and psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School
“Gretchen Rubin’s groundbreaking Four Tendencies framework is a simple yet powerful tool that helps us better recognize our own nature, harness its strengths, and counteract its weaknesses. With her trademark wit and insight, Gretchen gives us the tools to create the life we want, in a way that’s right for us. The surprising thing? Once you know about these four types, you see them everywhere.”
—Susan David, PhD, (Upholder), cofounder of the Institute of Coaching and author of Emotional Agility
“If you want to change anything in your life, you need Gretchen Rubin. Her ideas are original, instinctive and revolutionary. Whether you want to get fitter, work smarter or be tidier, she shows you how to tweak your habits (almost) effortlessly. This Rebel sleeps better, deletes more email, is three stone lighter and forever in her debt.”
—Viv Groskop (Rebel), journalist and comedian
"I love Gretchen Rubin and she helps me understand both myself and the people around me."
—Cathy Rentzenbrink (Obliger), author of The Last Act of Love
About the Author
Gretchen Rubin is one of the most thought-provoking and influential writers on the linked subjects of habits, happiness, and human nature. She's the author of many books, including the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers, Better Than Before and The Happiness Project. A member of Oprah's SuperSoul 100, Rubin has an enormous following, in print and online; her books have sold more than two million copies worldwide, in more than thirty-five languages, and on her popular daily blog, gretchenrubin.com, she reports on her adventures in pursuit of habits and happiness. She also has a highly ranked, award-winning podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin. Rubin started her career in law, and was clerking for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor when she realized she wanted to be a writer. She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.
Top customer reviews
Gretchen begins her book with a test we need to take to identify our most important Tendency: Upholder, Obliger, Rebel, and Questioner. Gretchen tells us: “You are the best judge of yourself. If you believe that a different Tendency describes you better, trust yourself.” I took the test and the results told me that I am a Questioner. This result is reasonably accurate, but like the good questioner that I am, I question the validity of Gretchen’s test. Is it reliable, valid, independent, and comprehensive? The answer is no, the test is not reliable, valid, independent, and comprehensive. We need to do just what Gretchen says; that is, look at the descriptions of each Tendency and decide for ourselves what Tendency describes us best.
Does the fact that her test is not valid mean that Gretchen’s book is useless? Not at all. Many readers are going to enjoy Gretchen’s relaxed and breezy style of writing as she talks about our Tendencies and how they affect our interactions with people at home and at work. Her book is often a “fun read.” Her book may not qualify as science, but her observations about people are often valid. She says about me that I put a high value on reason, research, and information. Absolutely! Also, she tells me that I make decisions based on information and reason. Right again. She goes on to say that as a Questioner I hate anything arbitrary. Well, hate is too strong a word, but by and large she is correct. Gretchen described me well and I think many other people who read her book are going to agree that one of her Tendencies is going to accurately describe the way they behave with people at home and at work.
Most self-help books and self-help tests don’t qualify as science. Even a famous test like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) has received much criticism from scientists. That criticism does not stop more than 2.5 million people from taking this test every year. We should be guided by science, but not ruled by it, at least in my opinion. Remember, as a Questioner I even question some of the results science gives us, particularly when these results come from our doctors. My doctor tells me that science tells him that taking supplements like glucosamine for knee pain is useless. I question his findings; my glucosamine supplement definitely helps my knees. My doctor tells me it is all in my head. I tell him my head is not a bad place to start if my head helps relieve the pain in my knees.
Gretchen’s test for the four Tendencies may not be valid according to strict scientific standards, but much of her advice and counsel is valid, at least for me. Additionally, Gretchen invites readers to participate in her blogs and web site. She wants to open up communication with as many readers as are interested in communicating with her and other like-minded people. Her book will provide all the particulars readers need to hook up with her.
Recommended for readers of self-help books with noted reservations.
My husband and father are both Questioners, who readily meet inner expectations because they make everything into an inner expectation. As the name suggests, they question everything, do lots of research and figure things out for themselves. If something makes sense to them, they do it. If not, then they won't. If I want my husband to do something, I have to give a good reason, and I still have to expect some pushback, because unlike me, he has to know why whereas I will do it because I was asked. In a funny twist, they also question the whole Four Tendency framework.
The last tendency is Rebel, the contrary group who won't meet inner or outer expectations, even things they tell themselves to do. Gretchen has great advice for how to help people with this group who can be hard to manage as employees or offspring -- they need to know the choices and the consequences and then they need to be left alone. If you remind them or nag them, they just won't do what you want at all. As an obliger, I find this group very intriguing.
This book adds great insight for me; I have fully enjoyed learning even more about the tendencies and the relationships between them. The suggestions about how to best relate and thrive for the differing dynamics are practical and exciting. It is an easy read, but I want to go over it again because there is so much there.