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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 – Print, September 12, 2017
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During her multibook investigation into human nature, Gretchen Rubin realized that by asking the seemingly dry question “How do I respond to expectations?” we gain explosive self-knowledge. She discovered that based on their answer, people fit into Four Tendencies:
• Upholders meet outer and inner expectations readily. “Discipline is my freedom.”
• Questioners meet inner expectations, but meet outer expectations only if they make sense. “If you convince me why, I’ll comply.”
• Obligers (the largest Tendency) meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet inner expectations—therefore, they need outer accountability to meet inner expectations. “You can count on me, and I’m counting on you to count on me.”
• Rebels (the smallest group) resist all expectations, outer and inner alike. They do what they choose to do, when they choose to do it, and typically they don’t tell themselves what to do. “You can’t make me, and neither can I.”
Our Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so using this framework allows us to make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress, and engage more effectively. It’s far easier to succeed when you know what works for you.
With sharp insight, compelling research, and hilarious examples, The Four Tendencies will help you get happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative.
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From the Publisher
—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 andauthor 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
- Publisher : Harmony (September 12, 2017)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1524760919
- ISBN-13 : 978-1524760915
- Item Weight : 12.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.7 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #40,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #160 in Popular Psychology Personality Study
- #637 in Happiness Self-Help
- #882 in Success Self-Help
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on September 20, 2017
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Top reviews from the United States
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I tested as a Rebel and I must say that the chapter on my tendency was quite accurate. There were many aspects of the tendency that nailed me. There were also some aspects that were a bit off the mark though.
There were aspects of other tendencies that I could relate very strongly to as well. For example, I can sometimes be a fierce researcher complete with spreadsheets and analytical data and I will take forever to make a decision. ...very typical behavior of the "Questioner" type. Also, I have an extreme difficulty with saying "no". ...very typical behavior of the "Obliger" type. Those are just 2 examples but suffice to say, I kind of was a bit all over the map to a degree. The only type I really didn't relate to at all was "Upholder". As for the other 3 types, it's all VERY situational for me.
I will admit that the Rebel tendency does fit me best though and quite a lot of the information was VERY helpful and eye opening for me. I do feel as though I am a Rebel first and foremost. I do still feel as though there is SOME crossover between the types though and the author does seem to acknowledge that. So I don't believe that I can say that I disagree with the author's point of view. It's funny too because I always saw myself as easy going but this book actually helped me see that I can actually be quite combative and resistant in my own very unique way. I also got a lot of great ideas on how to better deal with the things in my life that regularly trip me up. For example, I struggle with finding ways to get through mundane tasks at work and there are some really creative methods suggested for this and other typical Rebel difficulties. I got a lot of great suggestions to help me actually WANT to do the things I sometimes struggle to find the motivation to push through. So, in that regard it was very helpful and I'm excited to try some of these ideas out.
One interesting thing I want to share is how this book helped me pinpoint my older brother's type. He is clearly an Upholder. Him and I sometimes struggle to see eye to eye and this book really helped me see why. His Upholder tendencies and my Rebel tendencies cause us to drive each other crazy whenever we have to join together to accomplish a goal. We get along great when we're just having fun and this book really opened my eyes as to why these difficulties exist for the specific situations and why they do not apply for others. There is also an Upholder at work that just drives me absolutely nuts and I suspect that I do the same to him. This book helped open my eyes to that situation as well. So, I really feel as though the ideas behind these tendencies certainly have a lot of validity, value, and use in the real world.
Speaking of Upholders and Rebels, I have to applaud the author for taking the time and effort to understand the Rebels. That is likely a difficult feat, yet she was able to be open minded enough to see the value and motivations behind the Rebels in a positive light. I find it especially admirable knowing that the author herself is an Upholder and she was able to see the positive in the Rebels. I imagine us Rebels can be a pain in the butt from time to time. I know we can be difficult.... BUT, and I can't speak for all Rebels, I truly do mean well. I want to be responsible. I want to be reliable. I want to be agreeable. ...The key word is "want". I think that is the key for any Rebel. As the author says ...we do what we want. That may sound superficial or selfish out of context, but some of us Rebels want things that are bigger than ourselves. Some of us simply want those that we love to be happy, or we want to do some good in this world. I think the author did a pretty good job of conveying that deeper and rather hidden motivation that many of us Rebels feel passionately about. This sort of "want" may be why some of us Rebels can relate to the tendencies of other types such as the Obligers. Our "wants" may coincide with what other tendency's natural inclinations. ...at least that's my take on it all.
I think I went on a tangent there, but I think the point is that this book has the potential to really open your mind and get your thinking pretty deep about human behavior, motivations, and relationships with people that are important to you. In a nutshell ...it's definitely worth a read. It was money well spent and I highly recommend you picking up a copy, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
If you noted “personality types” in the title and figured this is yet another book about personality types that are based on Jungian psychology, you’re in luck. It’s not. In fact, I’m not sure that “personality types” is even the right description for what Gretchen Rubin calls “tendencies.” They don’t come from psychology at all. They grew out of an insightful answer to a puzzling question. Here’s how Rubin describes it in the book.
“And here was my crucial insight: Depending on a person’s response to outer and inner expectations, that person falls into one of four distinct types: Upholders respond readily to both outer expectations and inner expectations Questioners question all expectations; they meet an expectation only if they believe it’s justified, so in effect they respond only to inner expectations Obligers respond readily to outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.”
The first part of the book describes how that insight came about and offers an overview of what she calls the four tendencies. Then, the bulk of the book is devoted to the four sections, one for each of the four tendencies. Each section has a chapter on understanding the tendency and one on dealing with it. Here’s a list of the tendencies, with Rubin’s catch-phrase for each one.
Upholder: “Discipline is my freedom”
Questioner: “I’ll comply – if you convince me why”
Obliger: “You can count on me, and I’m counting on you to count on me”
Rebel: “You can’t make me, and neither can I”
This book is like Gretchen Rubin’s other books. It’s engaging, and well-written. It’s based on some unique research. There’s a test where you can determine your own tendency. One option is to answer the questions as they appear in the book. The other option is to follow the link to the book website and take the test there. I recommend the latter. It will give you a good idea of where you fit as a primary tendency. Then, as you read the book, you’ll learn a bit about what other tendencies you lean toward.
You Probably Won’t Like This Book If…
You probably won’t like this book if you don’t like simplified presentations of complex subjects. Some people find these sorts of things, especially these 2x2 matrices, helpful. I’m one of them. But I know from talking to my friends and working with my clients that you and I may not see this issue the same way.
You probably won’t like this book if you’re searching for hard science of some kind. Yes, there is a large and well thought out survey that underlies the tendencies, but if you’re looking for several academic papers and lots of laboratory research to support what’s here, you’ll be disappointed.
You Probably Will Like This Book If…
You’ll probably like this book if you’ve liked Gretchen Rubin’s other books. There’s the same common sense melded with experiment and the same engaging writing style.
Obviously, you’ll also like this book if you enjoy simplified explanations of complex issues. Ditto if you like 2x2 matrices.
You will probably like this book if you try to put some of it to work. Reading some books is like studying history. You can read the book and get the points and increase your knowledge. But other books, and this is one of them, repay some personal real-world trials. In other words, it’s more like learning to swim than it is like learning history. Try out the ideas you get from the book to see if they work for you.
If You’re a Coach or Other Helping Professional…
If you’re a coach or other helping professional, you should try some things to see if they work for you and with your clients. I work with writers, and I coach people through the book-writing process. The book gave me several ways to help people achieve what they want to achieve. I now know that there are some people that don’t want me as an accountability partner and others who will really appreciate my ability to get projects on track. I’ve always known that there were those differences, but The Four Tendencies gives me a language for talking about them and a template for using them more effectively.
In A Nutshell
If you are a coach, or a consultant, or a medical professional, or anyone who helps people achieve things they want to achieve, The Four Tendencies should be on your shelf, but don’t just leave it there. Read it. Experiment with what you find. Put it to work.
Top reviews from other countries
My issue with this is that it's overly simple in approach and Rubin dwells too much on her own type - upholder - and this is to the detriment of strategies for other types. There is a decent model at the base but not much additional insight.