Tag Archives: Four Tendencies

A Four Tendencies Dilemma: What Would You Do with the Office Coffee Mug?

Have  I mentioned that my book The Four Tendencies is coming out in September? Oh right, I think I have.

Well, I’m gearing up for my book tour, and thinking about my book talk.

I’m considering opening my talk by describing a familiar situation that illustrates how differently the Four Tendencies see the world. What do you think of that idea? Consider this scenario:

“What Would You Do with the Office Coffee Mug?”

Imagine that you’ve been hired to work in sales in a small-to-medium sized office.

There’s an office kitchen with a sink, fridge, dishwasher, and a cabinet stocked with office mugs.

Although you haven’t met the night cleaning staff, you know that a crew comes in every night to vacuum, dust, empty the trash cans, handle the recycling, clean the kitchen, and wash and put the office mugs back in the cupboard.

There’s no sign in the office telling you what to do with your dirty mugs, and no one has mentioned the office etiquette to you.

The first time you used a mug and were deciding what to do with it, what idea most likely ran through your mind?

  1. My job is to do sales, and the cleaning staff’s job is to clean.
  2. It’s more efficient for the cleaning staff to spend the time cleaning, and for me to spend my time making sales.
  3. The cleaning staff shouldn’t have to clean up after me.
  4. No one can tell me what to do with my mug.

To be sure, your Tendency is just one narrow aspect of your character; two people of the same Tendency might behave differently depending on how considerate they are, how ambitious they are, how busy, how extroverted, and a million other things.

And of course your life experience influences your behavior. You might automatically deal with your mug  the way you dealt with mugs at your last job.

Nevertheless, I think there are some very general patterns, if you identified with those reactions:

1-likely to be an Upholder

2-likely to be a Questioner

3-likely to be an Obliger

4-likely to be a Rebel

However, it’s crucial to note that you can’t judge people’s Tendencies from their actions; you have to know what they’re thinking.

And you often can’t predict people’s actions from knowing their Tendency, because so many factors come into play.

For instance, in contrast to the predictions listed above, a Rebel might choose to clean a mug, with the thought, “It’s important to me to be a thoughtful member of this office.” An Obliger might not clean a mug, with the thought, “This office is dangerously close to failure. I need to spend every minute I possibly can making sales, or everyone will lose their jobs.” A Questioner might clean a mug, with the thought, “If clients come in and see a sink full of dirty dishes, they may assume we run a sloppy operation. The risk of losing sales is a very good reason for me to clean my dishes.”

Given the many different perspectives that can arise, even within the same Tendency, it’s easy how often people disagree. An Obliger might think, “I can’t believe that other people show so little common courtesy for others.”  A Questioner might think, “If you want to clean the mugs, fine, but don’t expect me to help. I’m here to make sales!” An Upholder might think, “I wouldn’t empty the trash cans, and I wouldn’t vacuum, and I don’t feel like I have to wash the dishes, those aren’t my jobs.” A Rebel thinks, “Why does everyone keep talking about the mugs? Sheesh, do whatever you want, that’s what I do.”

Studying the Four Tendencies has shown me that very often, there’s no single correct way to view a situation.

Want to learn your Tendency? Take the quiz here. (Hundreds of thousands of people have taken it.)

Want to join a lively discussion about the Four Tendencies? Join the Better app to ask questions, offer strategies and insights, and join Accountability Groups.

Want to get free access to my five videos about how to apply the Four Tendencies? To get the pre-order bonus, you can find details here. You’ll get the overview video as well as subject videos on using the Four Tendencies at work, with spouses and sweethearts, with children and students, and in health-care settings.  Free now; note after the book comes out, there will be a (fairly hefty) charge for the video series.

Want to Read Books that Show Examples of the Four Tendencies? Revealed!

Revealed! My book club recommendations for August.

Newsflash: I’ve decided to change the way I suggest books for this book club. Instead of suggesting three books each month (one about happiness and human nature; one work of children’s literature; one eccentric pick), I’m going to provide a reading list once a quarter, on a particular subject.

For instance, I’m looking forward to providing a list of some of my favorite books about color, favorite memoirs, favorite books about other people’s happiness projects…the list goes on. If you’d like to suggest a theme for a list, just email me.

For instance, I had so much fun compiling my list of my 81 favorite works of children’s and young-adult literature. These lists will be shorter than than list, however.

You can still get the book club suggestions by email, by signing up for my “book club” here.

As I may have mentioned, my book The Four Tendencies hits the shelves on September 12.

So, to get you in the mood to read about the Four Tendencies, or if you can’t wait until September to immerse yourself in the subject, here’s a list of books that illustrate the Four Tendencies.

It’s important to note that we can never judge someone’s Tendency from his or her actions; we must know the reasons behind that action. For instance, Questioner refuses to do something because “why should I?” while a Rebel refuses because “you can’t tell me what to do.”

Nevertheless, I’ve included some memoirs by people who were close to someone of a certain Tendency. Such accounts aren’t as dispositive as having an account by that person himself or herself, but I do think that sometimes, a person gets to know someone well enough over time that a portrait really does capture a Tendency.

Also, even if you’re not interested in reading about the Four Tendencies, each one of these books is outstanding. So I recommend them wholly apart from their relevance to the Four Tendencies.

Upholder

The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling — in this legendary series, Hermione Granger is such an Upholder, with the strengths and weakness of that Tendency.

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik — Will Laurence is an Upholder, and Temeraire is a Questioner. It’s interesting to see how the two Tendencies work together. Warning: it’s a book with dragons, which is either your kind of thing, or not at all your kind of thing.

Questioner

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson — a fascinating portrait of a QUESTIONER/Rebel. (As I explain in The Four Tendencies, people often “tip” in the direction of a Tendency that overlaps with their core Tendency. So while my husband is an example of a QUESTIONER/Upholder, Jobs is a QUESTIONER/Rebel.)

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronteon the very first page of this classic novel, Jane’s hateful aunt Mrs. Reed literally calls her “Questioner” to explain why she finds Jane annoying: “Jane, I don’t like cavillers or questioners.” (I had to look up “caviller”; it means “one who quibbles.”)

Obliger

Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi — a brilliant self-portrait of a textbook Obliger who is also a tennis star.

Here But Not Here: My Life with William Shawn and the New Yorker by Lillian Ross — it’s not Ross, but Shawn, who is convincingly portrayed as an Obliger.

How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids by Jancee Dunn — an engaging memoir about the challenges of marriage by an Obliger married to a Questioner.

Rebel

Life with Picasso by Francoise Gilot — Gilot’s fascinating portrayal of her life with Picasso shows his Rebel Tendency. (The image above shows Gilot and Picasso at the beach.)

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen — Lady Bertram is a thorough Rebel; she’s also a good example of how Rebels may appear proper and conventional — until closer consideration reveals that they do only what they want to do.

The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton — I wrote a giant portrait of Merton as a Rebel, which got cut down to a few paragraphs in The Four Tendencies. He fascinates me. Rebel as Cistercian monk!

Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After by Heather Harpham — in this brand-new memoir, the author writes about the challenges when her daughter grows sick and needs a bone-marrow transplant. Along the way, Harpham’s thoughts and actions show her Rebel Tendency.

I’m always looking for books (and movies, television shows, street signs, anything!) that illustrate the Four Tendencies. So if you have any to suggest, please send them my way.

Happy August, and happy reading! I do love summer reading.

Podcast 128: Connect with TV, Conquering the Snooze Alarm–and Is It Possible to be a Mix of the Four Tendencies?

Update: Elizabeth is excited because tomorrow on the “Happier in Hollywood” podcast, she and Sarah talk about a very common happiness stumbling block: self-criticism. When is it helpful, and when is it toxic?

I’m excited because my new book, The Four Tendencies, hits the shelves in just 41 days. So close, and yet so far!

Pre-orders give a big boost to a book, so to thank readers who pre-order, I worked with a terrific production team to create a series of videos about the Four Tendencies. After the book goes on sale, I’ll charge for these videos, but until then, you can get access to them for free if you pre-order. Find all the info here. There’s an overview video, then subject videos on using the Four Tendencies at work, with spouses and sweethearts, with children and students, and in health-care settings.

Try This at Home:  Connect through television. On episode 9 of “Happier in Hollywood,” the weekly “Hollywood Hack” was to “watch the TV shows your boss watches” to create an easy way to connect.

But TV is a great way to connect not only with a boss, but also with co-workers, teenagers, grandparents…many relationships. Have you ever used TV to strengthen an important relationship?

I quote from Tyler Cowen’s Discover You Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Your Motivate Your Dentist.

Happiness Hack: Put your alarm device across the room, so you have to get out of bed in order to turn off the noise.


Four Tendencies Tip: If you want to take the Quiz, to see whether you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel, it’s here.

People often suggest that they think they’re a mix of Tendencies, but I argue that just about every one of us does fall into one core Tendency.

That said, the Tendencies do overlap, and it’s possible to “tip” to a Tendency that overlaps with your core Tendency. For instance, I’m an UPHOLDER/Questioner, and Elizabeth is an OBLIGER/Questioner.

Listener Question: Debbie asks how to figure out if she truly finds it fun to pursue the outdoor activities that her husband loves.

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth has started playing a new app game, Two Dots.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: I managed to stay (reasonably) calm while Eliza and I were shopping for some things she needs for college.


This Week’s Free Resources:

  1. To get the pre-order bonus, you can find info here, or at happiercast.com/4tbonus. You’ll get the overview video as well as subject videos on using the Four Tendencies at work, with spouses and sweethearts, with children and students, and in health-care settings.  Free now; after the book comes out, there will be a charge for the video series.
  2.  I do weekly live videos on my Facebook Page to continue the conversation from the podcast — usually on Tuesdays at 3:00 pm ET. To join the conversation, check the schedule.

If you want easy instructions about how to rate or review the podcast, look here. Remember, it really helps us if you do rate or review the podcast — it helps other listeners discover us.

As I mentioned above, I do weekly live videos on my Facebook Page to continue the conversation from the podcast — usually on Tuesdays at 3:00 pm ET. To join the conversation, check the schedule.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

Check out Stamps.com. Want to avoid trips to the post office, and buy and print official U.S. postage for any letter or package, right from your own computer and printer? Visit Stamps.com to sign up for a 4-week trial,  including postage and a digital scale — just enter the promo code HAPPIER.

Check out Lyft  — join the ride-sharing company that believes in treating its people better. Go to Lyft.com/happier to get a $500 new-driver bonus. Limited time only.

Also check out ThirdLove, the lingerie brand that uses real women’s measurements to design better-fitting bras. Try one of their bestselling bras for free, for 30 days, by visiting ThirdLove.com/happier.

 

1pixHappier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #128

We love hearing from listeners:

 

To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.“ Or click here.

If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Click here to tell your friends on Twitter.

Listeners really respect the views of other listeners, so your response helps people find good material. (Not sure how to review? Instructions here; scroll to the bottom.)

How to Subscribe

If you’re like me (until recently) you’re intrigued by podcasts, but you don’t know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, really. Really.  To listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s better to subscribe. Really, it’s easy.

Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen to the award-winning Happier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).  We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

Want a new podcast to listen to, with the same vibe as Happier? The Onward Project is the family of podcasts that I’ve launched, for podcasts that are about “your life–made better.” Check out these great shows: Side Hustle School and Radical Candor and Happier in Hollywood.

HAPPIER listening!

Podcast 127: Make or Accept a Relationship “Repair Attempt,” A Sharpie-Related Travel Hack, and a Vow to Write More Legibly.

Update:  Tomorrow, I get to make a cameo appearance on episode 11 of the “Happier in Hollywood” podcast to talk about my favorite subject these days: the Four Tendencies, and how knowing your Tendency can help you make progress on a writing project.

Try This at Home: Make or accept a “repair attempt.” We mention relationship expert John Gottman’s book, Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. I explore the issue of “Fight Right” in my book The Happiness Project.

Happiness Hack: When traveling with young children, write your cell-phone number on the child’s arm with a permanent marker.

Know Yourself Better: If you’re facing a difficult task, do you prefer to tackle it early, or do you prefer to work your way up to it?

Listener Answers: Many listeners suggested ideas for handling a sad anniversary.

Gretchen’s  Demerit: I’ve developed a bad habit of making illegible entries in my Filofax planner. It’s extremely annoying.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth gives a gold star to my daughter Eliza for her interview on episode 38 on the podcast “The Other ‘F’ Word” [the other f word is failure]. You can also listen to her podcast “Eliza Starting at 16.


Three Resources:

  1.  Sign up for my free newsletter, where I collect highlights from my blog, Facebook, links, behind-the-scenes looks, etc. — and sometimes I offer bonus material.
  2. If you’d like to get an email every time a new “Happier” episode becomes available, you can sign up here.
  3. If you want to pre-order my book The Four Tendencies (and it’s a big help to me, if you do), go here. For the book tour calendar,  info is here.

If you want easy instructions about how to rate or review the podcast, look here. Remember, it really helps us if you do rate or review the podcast — it helps other listeners discover us.

I do weekly live videos on my Facebook Page to continue the conversation from the podcast — usually on Tuesdays at 3:00 pm ET. To join the conversation, check the schedule.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

Check out Stamps.com. Want to avoid trips to the post office, and buy and print official U.S. postage for any letter or package, right from your own computer and printer? Visit Stamps.com to sign up for a 4-week trial,  including postage and a digital scale — just enter the promo code HAPPIER.

Also check out Little Passports. Check out “Science Expeditions” — the new educational subscription with a science theme that kids and parents will love. To save 40% on your first month’s subscription, go to littlepassports.com/happier, and enter the coupon code HAPPY.

Also check out ThirdLove, the lingerie brand that uses real women’s measurements to design better-fitting bras. Try one of their bestselling bras for free, for 30 days, by visiting ThirdLove.com/happier.

Happier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #127

We love hearing from listeners:

 

To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.“ Or click here.

If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Click here to tell your friends on Twitter.

Listeners really respect the views of other listeners, so your response helps people find good material. (Not sure how to review? Instructions here; scroll to the bottom.)

How to Subscribe

If you’re like me (until recently) you’re intrigued by podcasts, but you don’t know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, really. Really.  To listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s better to subscribe. Really, it’s easy.

Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen to the award-winning Happier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).  We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

Want a new podcast to listen to, with the same vibe as Happier? The Onward Project is the family of podcasts that I’ve launched, for podcasts that are about “your life–made better.” Check out these great shows: Side Hustle School and Radical Candor and Happier in Hollywood.

HAPPIER listening!

Help! Have Ideas for a Four Tendencies Quiz for Kids?

I’m getting geared up for publication of my book The Four Tendencies — planning the book tour, getting ready to launch the major pre-order bonus (stay tuned for that!), thinking about my book talk.

I can’t wait for the book to go out into the world.

One question keeps coming up, over and over, and I want to sit down to figure out the answer before the book hits the shelves: people keep asking me to write a version of the Four Tendencies Quiz aimed at children — so I’m going to try to draft one.

I need to adapt the existing Quiz so that it uses vocabulary that children understand as well as examples that resonate with them. How do I help determine if a child is an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel?

I could really use your suggestions and ideas! What questions should I ask? Related to dealing with school, parents, friends, coaches, classes, pets, anything that’s part of a child’s life.

I asked this question over on my Better appmy free app that’s all about the Four Tendencies — and got such helpful, insightful responses, that I decided to ask here, too.

One difficulty is that an eight-year-old and an eighteen-year-old inhabit very different worlds. I’m not going to write multiple versions of the child test (at least not at this point), so one challenge is to try to be general enough to cover most ages.

For some children, their Tendency is very obvious at a very young age. For other children, it’s much harder to determine. Partly, of course, this is because children aren’t autonomous in the way that adults are. Also, their lives tend to include tremendous amounts of accountability. Nevertheless, in my experience, it’s often possible to see a child’s Tendency.

To spark your thoughts, here are the questions from the adult version:

1. Have you kept a New Year’s resolution where you weren’t accountable to anyone—a resolution like drinking more water or keeping a journal? 

  • Yes. I’m good at keeping New Year’s resolutions, even ones that no one knows about but me.
  • I’m good at keeping resolutions, but I make them whenever the time seems right. I wouldn’t wait for the New Year; January 1 is an arbitrary date.
  • I’ve had trouble with that kind of resolution, so I’m not inclined to make one. When I’m only helping myself, I often struggle.
  • No. I hate to bind myself in any way.

 

2. Which statement best describes your view about your commitments to yourself?

  • I make a commitment to myself only if I’m convinced that it really makes good sense to do it
  • If someone else is holding me accountable for my commitments, I’ll meet them—but if no one knows except me, I struggle.
  • I bind myself as little as possible.
  • I take my commitments to myself as seriously as my commitments to other people

 

3. At times, we feel frustrated by ourselves. Are you most likely to feel frustrated because…

  • My constant need for more information exhausts me.
  • As soon as I’m expected to do something, I don’t want to do it.
  • I can take time for other people, but I can’t take time for myself.
  • I can’t take a break from my usual habits, or violate the rules, even when I want to.

 

4. When you’ve formed a healthy habit in the past, what helped you stick to it?

  • I’m good at sticking to habits, even when no one else cares.
  • Doing a lot of research and customization about why and how I might keep that habit.
  • I could stick to a good habit only when I was answerable to someone else.
  • Usually, I don’t choose to bind myself in advance.

 

5. If people complain about your behavior, you’d be least surprised to hear them say…

  • You stick to your good habits, ones that matter only to you, even when it’s inconvenient for someone else.
  • You ask too many questions.
  • You’re good at taking the time when others ask you to do something, but you’re not good at taking time for yourself.
  • You only do what you want to do, when you want to do it.

 

6. Which description suits you best?

  • Puts others—clients, family, neighbors, co-workers—first
  • Disciplined—sometimes, even when it doesn’t make sense
  • Refuses to be bossed by others
  • Asks necessary questions

 

7. People get frustrated with me, because if they ask me to do something, I’m less likely to do it (even if they’re a boss or client).

  • Tend to agree
  • Neutral
  • Tend to disagree

 

8. I do what I think makes the most sense, according to my judgment, even if that means ignoring the rules or other people’s expectations.

  • Tend to agree
  • Neutral
  • Tend to disagree

 

9. Commitments to others should never be broken, but commitments to myself can be broken.

  • Tend to agree
  • Neutral
  • Tend to disagree

 

10. Sometimes I won’t do something I want to do, because someone wants me to do it.

  • Tend to agree
  • Neutral
  • Tend to disagree

 

11. I’ve sometimes described myself as a people-pleaser.

  • Tend to agree
  • Neutral
  • Tend to disagree

 

12. I don’t mind breaking rules or violating convention–I often enjoy it.

  • Tend to agree
  • Neutral
  • Tend to disagree

 

13. I question the validity of the Four Tendencies framework.

  • Tend to agree
  • Neutral
  • Tend to disagree

But a new question for the kid’s version doesn’t need to inspired by this existing Quiz. It could be something completely different, as long as it shows the differences among the Four Tendencies.

I appreciate any thoughts or examples you might have!