• Shahab Nilgiri

What's Your Tendency?

September 27, 2018


Shahab Nilgiri

So I read this great book by Gretchen Rubin called "The Four Tendencies", and I highly recommend it.

In your personal relationships, work relationships, and the relationship you have with yourself, we ALL deal with different personality types, and how we deal with these determine the outcome of any given situation. 

Knowing someones type can give you an insight into how they will react to a situation, a thought, an idea.

Let's keep this short and simple. 

Throughout life, we generally face two kinds of expectations.

Inner expectations: These are the expectations that we place upon ourselves. For example, you have to go for a run today, since you missed out yesterday. 

Outer expectations: These are expectations that people place on us, like completing tasks for work that your boss has given you. 

How you handle these expectations determines how your situations will turn out to be. 

The Tendencies

According to Rubin, there are 4 main tendencies that we all fall under. As you read these, think about whether or not you fall into one of these categories. 

Upholder - Upholders will respond readily to both of the expectations mentioned above.

Questioners - They will respond mostly to inner expectations, but will respond to outer if it's justified.

Obligers - These are the pleasers. They will respond to outer expectations, but neglect their own inner.

Rebels - Resist both outer and inner.

Before we get into someone's else's tendency, we need to figure out our own. 

Think of your daily habits, rituals, and how you deal with expectations put upon you. 

I will use exercising as an example since it's a well known activity.

You may tell a friend of yours that they need to exercise, but what if they are a rebel? Chances are they won't do it, only because you placed an expectation on them, and they don't listen to outer expectations.

In the same token, you may tell a friend that they need to exercise, but what if they are an obliger? This is when it gets interesting. They KNOW that exercise is needed, but it's an inner expectation, something that they won't meet. 

On the other hand, if they had someone holding them accountable (like a trainer), then they are MUCH MORE inclined to get exercise into their daily routine. This is because an obliger let's go of inner expectations, and takes an OUTER expectation more seriously. 

Continuing with exercise as an example, which are are you? Are you...

An upholder?

A questioner?

A rebel?

An obliger?

Maybe you are best with a training partner, or maybe you can meet your own inner expectations. 

Whatever the case may be, once you find your tendency, you can make better decisions for yourself. 

Why It's Helpful To Identify Others' Tendencies

When you know how other people react to requests according to their tendency, it's easier to come up with a way to get your point across. 

A great point to reiterate, is that the language you use with the listener is key!

If your partner is an obliger, it doesn't matter how many time you tell them to do a certain thing. They need that external accountability. For this, you should try ASKING, and holding them accountable to your expectations (without taking advantage of the obliger tendency).

If your friend is a rebel, it doesn't matter how nicely you tell them to consider a certain favour. They see it as a demand, not a favour. 

If people relationships are all around us, then learning how to communicate, persuade, and listen to our circle is crucially important if you want to get far in your personal and business relationships. 

Dealing With Children

Parenting styles are vastly different throughout the board. Because of this in-congruency with the parent and their children, things either will get done by the children, or they'll be total rebels (maybe that's what they are?) Do you think you can figure out what your child's tendency is?

When you do find out, you'll be able to deal with them the proper way, ask them proper questions to help them get chores done, homework done, and other such tasks that they need to do for self improvement.

If you child is a questioner and refuses to do something you've asked, you can ask them...

"Is that the kind of role model you want to be to your little brother"? 

This is just one example. 

Even though questioners will resist outer expectations, they will only do so if the reason to complete the expectation isn't strong enough. 


Upholders - We love self mastery and love keeping up with our good habits. We like to keep things in order, and like things done a certain way. We're great at meeting inner expectations, and outer expectations if it makes sense to us. 

Rebels - For rebels, sticking to certain habits might mean they are letting go of certain freedoms, and this is a big no for them. Why follow society's rules? Why even be confined by rules?

Questioners - They will question, but not to question authority, but just to know that there's something in it for them. 

Obligers - In relationships, obligers get the wrongful title of being needy, when this isn't the case. They just need that outer accountability, and that's their style. Obligers will typically meet all outer expectations, and let go of their own inner.

Closing Thoughts

Anytime you read a book, watch a talk, or have a discussion with somebody pertaining to our human nature, why we do what we do, and how to do it better, it's important to know that whatever you learn isn't the end all be all. 

Every piece of information we find out is a basis to learn and grow more.

Reading this book doesn't mean that you will never have a small argument with your spouse, or a misunderstanding with your colleague. It just means that there was a communication barrier. 

A takeaway from that is finding out how the conversation went, so that you can use the RIGHT language, and right questions next time. 

If you found this article helpful, then leave a like, and share it with someone who you think might benefit.

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