Book Review: The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin

For a long time, I balked at personality tests and quizzes. Even in college, when we had to take the MBTI assessment during orientation (I’m an INTJ, by the way), I thought there was no way a simple test could tell me what I needed to know about my personality. I

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was far too complex, right? However, as the years progressed, I was introduced to more personality studies. I studied and thought, “Hey, maybe this isn’t total nonsense.”

Enter: The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin. From friends on social media, I had heard of Rubin’s book, but was generally unaware of her work as a whole. When given the opportunity to provide and honest review for a free copy of the book through Blogging for Books, I was so impressed with Rubin’s content and writing style.

Without the tense language of a psychology textbook, Tendencies examines four ways humans often express them selves as: Upholders, Obligers, Rebels, and Questioners. Rubin takes each tendency, and presents how each “style” operates and interacts with

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others in real life. For example, I took the quiz at Rubin’s website and to no surprise, I am a textbook case Obliger. I can meet outer expectations, but I fail to meet inner expectations. For example, I can finish a report for work ahead of a deadline, but to go to the gym for myself? No way. Promises to myself can be broken.

On the other end, you may be a Questioner. You can meet your own inner expectations, but an outward expectations? You’ve got a few questions first, and you’re not volunteering just because. Maybe you’re a rebel who resists ALL expectations because you can’t stand being told what to do. Or, perhaps you’re an upholder: You meet expectations, both inner and outer, and “discipline is your freedom” (1).

What makes Tendencies so successful and engaging is that it teachers you not to attribute every single personality quirk to your tendency, but to think about your behavior and how it shapes you. Rubin offers advice for Obligers who want to keep promises to themselves and to the Questioner who wants to avoid information acquisition burnout.

Overall, for the armchair personality enthusiast to seasoned professionals, I would highly recommend The Four Tendencies. You will learn something about the ones you work with and love. Most importantly, you’ll recognize a familiar trait or discover something brand new about yourself.

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