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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)

By Gretchen Rubin
18-minute read
Audio available
The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin

The Four Tendencies (2017) reveals the four personality types that dictate how people react to the expectations in their daily lives. Expanding on the first chapter to her book on habit Better Than Before, Rubin provides insight and advice to help you understand your own tendencies, as well as those of the people you live and work with.

This is a Blinkist staff pick

“I’m obsessed with The Four Tendencies! The framework has helped me to understand how I respond to expectations, and how I can harness my strengths and compensate for my weaknesses. It has been eye-opening in my relationships with family members or colleagues.”

– Deborah, Recruitment & Employer Branding Manager at Blinkist

  • Parents and teachers who want to have better communication skills
  • Managers and supervisors hoping to improve employee relations
  • Anyone who wants to live a more productive, happier life

Gretchen Rubin is an influential writer whose books have sold millions of copies around the world. Her writing strives to examine human nature in a way that can help anyone understand themselves better and therefore live a happier life. Her best-selling books include The Happiness Project and Better Than Before.

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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)

By Gretchen Rubin
  • Read in 18 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 11 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin
Synopsis

The Four Tendencies (2017) reveals the four personality types that dictate how people react to the expectations in their daily lives. Expanding on the first chapter to her book on habit Better Than Before, Rubin provides insight and advice to help you understand your own tendencies, as well as those of the people you live and work with.

This is a Blinkist staff pick

“I’m obsessed with The Four Tendencies! The framework has helped me to understand how I respond to expectations, and how I can harness my strengths and compensate for my weaknesses. It has been eye-opening in my relationships with family members or colleagues.”

– Deborah, Recruitment & Employer Branding Manager at Blinkist

Key idea 1 of 11

The Four Tendencies tell us about our nature and how we respond to expectations.

One day, the author Gretchen Rubin was chatting with a friend over lunch and the conversation turned to exercise. Her friend was reflecting on the fact that when she was on the track and field team at school, she had no trouble finding the time to run, but now, forget about it!

“Not having the time” is a common excuse for why we can’t get something done, but if you really want to get to the bottom of why some tasks are so hard to accomplish, you need to understand The Four Tendencies.

The Four Tendencies are all about how we respond to the two kinds of expectations we face every day: the outer expectations that come from work and society, and the inner expectations we set for ourselves.

The first of the Four Tendencies are Upholders. These are people who excel at meeting both inner and outer expectations.

The second is Questioners, who are people who meet inner expectations but question and struggle with outer expectations.

The third is Obligers, people who deal well with outside expectations but struggle with their own.

And the fourth is the Rebels, who push against both inner and outer expectations.

In the case of Rubin’s friend, who excelled at running when she had a coach and a team, but doesn’t find the time on her own, this is a typical scenario for an Obliger, someone who needs outside accountability.

As we’ll see in the blinks ahead, none of these categories are inherently bad or meant to make you feel boxed in or doomed to lifelong problems. They’re meant as tools for gaining insight into your nature, and the nature of those you work and live with, so that you can be a more confident and productive individual.

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