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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Borer

The Four Tendencies

Several years ago, I came across the work of Gretchen Rubin, and I have been obsessed ever since. She writes mainly on topics that help you dig a little deeper into your personality, habits, and tendencies. Her most recent book, The Four Tendencies, just came out, and I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy!

Until then, however, I wanted to share a bit about her framework for categorizing the four different tendencies. To figure out which tendency you are, you can take a quiz here.

The four tendencies are based around outer and inner expectations. Outer expectations are imposed on us from the outside, like a work deadline. Inner expectations come from ourselves, like setting a New Year’s resolution.

The four tendencies are as follows:

Upholder: responds readily to outer and inner expectations (they can set a goal for themselves and keep it and also have a goal set for them by someone else and also keep it too) This is my tendency!

Obliger: meet outer expectations from others, but struggle to meet the expectations they impose on themselves (like setting a New Year’s Resolution)

Rebel: resists all expectations, inner and outer alike

Questioner: question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation IF they think it makes sense to them. Essentially, they make all expectations inner expectations.

Sometimes you can easily figure out which tendency you are, but sometimes it might be a bit tricky. If that is the case, take the quiz like I mentioned above – it will make it much simpler! Either way, once you have discovered what tendency you feel describes you best, then it’s time to harness the power of that knowledge.

For instance, the most common tendency is the obliger category, meaning that people in this category need extra accountability to complete tasks and goals. They struggle to meet any goal or expectation they set for themselves. However, once an obliger discovers that this is his or her tendency, then it becomes quite simple. In order to reach certain goals or accomplish tasks, accountability must be created that is outside of that person, like hiring a personal trainer, for instance.

On the other hand, this knowledge can also be used in your relationships and dealings with other people in your life. We all know of those people that always ask a million questions – they love details! Most likely, that person is a questioner, and likes to have the facts before arriving at a decision. If you recognize this fact, it makes it much easier for you to communicate and plan with this person, as you can make sure to have all the details ready to go for when they start asking away!

Rebels are a bit trickier to deal with, however. They tend to resist rules and both inner and outer expectations. Most ideas and plans with rebels have to be their idea; they can’t be forced upon by someone else.

Last but not least, upholders are those that can meet both inner and outer expectations. This group is one of the smallest (rebels are the smallest group), but can be a huge asset in your life, especially because they can get tasks accomplished without the need for extra pushes and deadlines. However, this can also turn into a perfectionist personality, especially if an upholder doesn’t hit a deadline or a goal.

Our tendency shapes our personality and our behavior patterns on a regular basis. It’s fascinating once you start digging a little deeper and learning more about yourself, your tendencies, and your personality.

What tendency do you think you are? What about your family? Friends? It’s interesting to ponder!

xoxo Olivia

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