Using the Four Tendencies for Happier Holidays

In her book, “The Four Tendencies,” Gretchen Rubin posits that there are four types of people in this world:  Upholder, Questioner, Rebel and Obliger.  You are likely to meet most of them at your family events over the holidays.

The Upholder loves rules and order.  She meets external expectations placed on her.  She meets her own internal expectations.

The Questioner will comply with rules if the Questioner believes that the rules are valid.  The Questioner resists having external expectations placed on her.  She meets her own inner expectations.

The Rebel instinctively rebels against any rules, no matter who is trying to set them.  He resists external expectations as well as his own internal expectations of himself.

The Obliger looks to meet the needs of others.  The Obliger meets external expectations, but resists meeting his own internal expectations.

I have assigned genders randomly.  Men and women fall into all four types.

Upholders want to know what should be done.

Questioners want to know why it should be done.

Obligers want to know what they could do to help.

Rebels want the freedom to do it however they want.

Now, think of these four people in conflict. 

The Upholder will want to know what the rules are and follow the rules.  If someone is breaking the rules, that will be a problem with the Upholder.

The Questioner will question whether the rules are valid and will only want to follow rules that make sense to the Questioner.

The Obliger will look to take care of everyone else’s needs and have a hard time expressing or even recognizing the Obliger’s own needs.

The Rebel will instinctively say no even when it is in the Rebel’s best interest to say yes.  The Rebel may come around later and change to yes, but it will be on the Rebel’s timeline and terms.

This holiday season, think about your least favorite relative.  Where does she fall in terms of the four tendencies?  Does it help to think of that person as just doing what she does best – upholding the rules or questioning everything or rebelling against everything – rather than as being a giant pain?  Do you see that her behavior makes sense from her perspective, even if it continues to be absolutely maddening from your perspective?

What about your favorite person?  Which tendency best describes him?  What are you drawn to in a person and why?

Now, which one best describes you?  If you’re not sure or you just want to make sure or you just love taking these types of tests and learning a bit more about yourself, take the Four Tendencies Quiz at happiercast.com/quiz.  What are you bringing to the table?  Where does your tendency, your beliefs and value system, get in the way of having a better interaction with your least favorite relative?  What could you take from the Four Tendencies to transform your holidays?