Review : The Four Tendencies

The Four tendencies book review

Gretchen Rubin is one of the most popular author writing about happiness and human nature. Her many bestsellers such as The Happiness Project and Better Than Before have influenced me greatly over the years. In Better Than Before, she laid out a personality called The Four Tendencies and it spread like wildfire. On her podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin, each week listeners are asking questions about their tendencies and how they can make their lives better by harnessing the strengths of their tendency.

It was no surprise that Rubin’s new book would be a deep dive into the Four Tendencies framework. And her book delivered. Within the first week of its launch, the book has made the Bestseller list of the New York Times as well as other acclaimed bestsellers lists. I preordered the book, eager to dive into the framework in more details. I devoured it in record time and couldn’t wait to share it with you guys.

The Four Tendencies Framework

The Four Tendencies is a personality framework which sorts people into 4 categories, or tendencies. Our tendency explains how we react to expectations, inner and outer. Knowing our tendency and acting on its strengths and weaknesses allows us to form good habits, achieve our goals, and be happier.

The Upholder

The Upholder is a person who will react well to inner and outer expectations alike. She can set and achieve goals and will respect deadlines and do what others expect of her. She likes to-do lists and rules. She can sometimes seem uptight and rigid, but you can always count on her.

The Questioner

The Questioner questions all expectations. If they make sense to him, he will perform what’s expected of him. In that sense, he turns all expectations into inner expectations. He will often ask too many questions and can experience analysis-paralysis when faced with a decision.

The Obliger

The obliger readily meets outer expectations, but struggles to meet the expectations she sets for herself. This is the most common tendency. The obliger is the perfect friend, spouse, employee, because she’ll always do what’s expected of her, but she can sometimes become frustrated by her lack of ability to reach her personal goals.

The Rebel

The Rebel resists inner AND outer expectations. He will do things if he feels like it, and often, being expected to do something will trigger his rebelious side. The Rebel also struggles to do things for himself and doesn’t like being bound to a schedule, a habit or anything that would tie him down.

If you want to dive deeper into the framework before you decide to buy the book, you can read my in-depth article here.

So what is your tendency? Do you recognise yourself in any of them? Gretchen Rubin has created a handy quiz to discover your tendency and the Four Tendencies book starts with a few questions that can determine if you are an Upholder, a Questioner, an Obliger or a Rebel.

A deep dive into the tendencies

The book is divided into 3 parts. The first part is divided in four chapters, two for each tendency. We learn to understand each of them, with tons of research and real-life examples. Next, we learn how to deal with each of the tendencies at work, as a spouse, as a parent and as a healthcare professional. This section is especially insightful and I can see myself going back to these chapters over and over again in my coaching practice.

The second part of the book is dedicated to the pairing of the tendencies. Each combination is laid out and explained, detailing their strengths and their weaknesses. As a questioner engaged to a rebel, this part of the book allowed me to understand some of the challenges of our relationship, and figure out new ways to interact and improve our communication.

Lastly, the third part of the book explains how to harness the strengths of our tendency. Packed with practical advice to make the most of our tendency, this section is essential to really learn to enjoy our tendency, even with its flaws and difficulties.

Learn to identify the Four Tendencies in others

As an appendix to the book, Rubin shared a few quick questions that you can easily slip into your conversations to identify the tendencies of your loved ones, collegues and clients. In my coaching practice, understanding the tendencies of my clients allows me to formulate my expectations in a way that will resonate with them and help them achieve whatever goals they set for themselves. Understanding your children’s tendencies, as well as your spouse’s can make life at home easier and more harmonious, and healthcare practitioners can improve the wellbeing of their patients by harnessing the strengths of their tendencies.

What I think about the book

It is clear to me that the Four Tendencies framework will revolutionize the way we approach habits, success and relationships. It has already proven helpful in my personal and professional life over and over since I’ve read Better Than Before. This detailed how-to guide for dealing with each tendency will become one of my most used tools and I already expect the torn pages and worn out cover in the months to come. I cannot recommend this book enough and I believe each and everyone of us can benefit from reading it. What’s more, it’s a quick read, filled with humour and beautifully written. Hurry up and get your copy of The Four Tendencies!

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