Knowing This One Thing Might Make You a Better Friend, Partner, and Coworker
Ever wonder what’s holding you back from being a better communicator, collaborator, friend, or partner? New York Times bestselling author Gretchen Rubin knows a thing or two about harnessing the power of our unique experiences, personality traits, and creativity to live a more productive and happy life. Her beloved podcast, Happier With Gretchen Rubin, is dedicated to talking about good habits and healthy hacks, and her new book, The Four Tendencies, introduces a brand-new framework to help people understand how they respond to expectations so they can live a happier life. We chatted with Rubin during her recent stop at Scribd, where she popped in for a live Q&A along her San Francisco book tour. Read on to learn more about the four Tendency types and which one you may be.
Gretchen Rubin: I put together the framework based on patterns I noticed when speaking to individuals during years of researching and writing about happiness and behavior. I often heard, “When someone tells me to do something, immediately I don’t want to do it.” Many others told me, “I can always make time for other people, but I can never take time for myself.” I was surprised to hear the same frustrations from so many people and also wanted to know why they didn’t ring true for me. I realized that these struggles stemmed from the answer to a simple question: How do you respond to expectations?
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Have you taken my free #FourTendencies quiz? More than 600,000 people have! Click the link in my profile to find out if you're an Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, or a Rebel. ⠀ ⠀ #happierpodcast #happier2017 #gretchenrubin #knowyourself #quiz #fun #happiness #instagood http://bit.ly/gretchenhabitquiz
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We all face outer expectations (like a work deadline) and inner expectations (like a New Year’s Resolution). How we respond to them is our Tendency. They are:
- Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations (I’m an Upholder, 100 percent).
- Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense — essentially, they make all expectations into inner expectations.
- Obligers meet outer expectations but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves.
- Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.
Whenever I describe the four types to people, they almost immediately know their Tendency and the Tendency of many people in their lives.
B+C: This is fascinating. How does knowing your Tendency change the way you interact with friends?
GR: Our Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so understanding this framework lets us make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress and burnout, and engage more effectively with other people. When we understand the Four Tendencies, we become more tolerant and compassionate of the way others operate. It’s helpful to remember that when someone responds to an expectation differently from us, it has nothing to do with the value they place on your relationship — it’s simply their nature.
In any relationship, it’s important to be aware of your Tendency and those of the people around you. Upholders are the least common tendency, and their self-motivation and the ease at which they set and conquer goals for themselves can cause their friends to become self-critical or resentful. Don’t compare yourself to them — they are the rare ones! Feel empowered to take actions that will help motivate you and ensure your success.
B+C: This makes so much sense! Can you share an example to showcase how Tendencies might function in a romantic relationship?
GR: I’m an Upholder and my husband is a Questioner. Understanding this frames the way in which we communicate and helps prevent frustration. For example, I know that when my husband asks questions about a decision, it’s not coming from a judgment or a lack of trust — it’s simply in his nature to want to understand the “why” behind decisions. Before understanding this, I would often feel drained by his questions, and he would feel frustrated by my response.
B+C: You point out that there’s a power in knowing your Tendency in professional situations too. Most of us have experienced frustrating moments at work, whether they were with a tricky teammate or a bad boss. How can various Tendencies work together to accomplish goals and achieve success?
GR: Understanding and embracing each team member’s Tendency leads to more productivity and less conflict. For instance, say you’re the boss of a Rebel and an Obliger and you need both of them to turn in an assignment. You will get your best work out of them if you adjust the way in which you delegate assignments and share expectations. The Obliger needs accountability, and they will appreciate deadlines and oversight. Rebels are resistant to reminders and structure; they will do their best work when they can develop their own processes.
A boss or a colleague of a Questioner might mistake their curiosity as insubordination or stubbornness — but they are just trying to get their questions answered. Upholders can often get impatient with people’s questions, or with their need for accountability, or with their resistance. When they see that they function differently from the majority of others, they can have much more productive relationships.
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Elizabeth and I are having so much fun at the Podcast Movement conference. You can't see in the photo, but we're wearing our Happier/Happier in Hollywood t-shirts. As one does! @lizcraft #happierpodcast #gretchenrubin #happier2017 #podcast #pm17
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B+C: How has knowing your Tendency changed the way you personally interact with others each day?
GR: My relationships are much richer and more productive, and I have a better understanding of my own strengths and weaknesses. As an Upholder, for instance, I am able to easily set and accomplish goals. There were times when I would be judgmental or impatient with others who didn’t operate in the same way. That kind of thinking can lead to resentment and conflict. Since I identified these Tendencies and recognized that I’m not like everyone else, I’ve become much more accepting of others habits and ways of being. Knowing your Tendency can help you make better decisions, and it’s important to consciously discuss your tendencies in an open and safe dialogue.
Brit + Co may at times use affiliate links to promote products sold by others but always offers genuine editorial recommendations.
(Featured photo via @gretchenrubin)
The idea of home took on a whole new meaning as soon as sheltering in place and lockdowns became a regular thing in 2020. And it wasn't all bad. We got back to cooking at home, bonding with our partners/families/housemates and pets, and we did a bit of redecorating. In fact, home decor and furniture sites saw huge growth (more than a billion global visits in March 2020 alone) as a result of the pandemic.
The New Hygge<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTE4NDU0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDc3NzY4NH0.b5mMkAr53ylATx1FegOBQ82rORssRzwzb5mnDnh9v2I/img.jpg?width=980" id="018a4" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="83ebde83c7fe24dc26f3daaa7b1af7b2" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1100" data-height="1650" /><p>"2021 will be about creating connections to each other, to ourselves, to nature," says Etsy's trend expert Dayna Isom Johnson. "We're embracing <em>friluftsliv</em>, the Norweigan concept of getting outdoors – think of it as the new hygge." That means turning your home into a nature haven, with <a href="https://www.brit.co/easy-to-care-for-indoor-plants/" target="_blank">indoor plants</a> that clear the air, provide peace of mind, and hint to the great outdoors, especially giving us a boost during grey winter days.</p>
Spaces Reimagined<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTE4NzkxNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzODU5Mjc5Nn0.WgkbktVSlXqGCnNT2UhoIliWO5XiIcre48caYgoPK1Y/img.jpg?width=980" id="76852" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ca514cb2b31357e78a497bda001dcb12" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="3200" data-height="4800" /><p>"We added workspaces to our living rooms, classrooms into our kitchens, and gyms to our bedrooms," says Isom Johnson.This year, she says we're reimagining our homes and incorporate pieces that help restore balance to our multi-functional spaces. (On Etsy, there has been a 399 percent increase in searches for wall or foldable desks, a 159 percent increase in searches for Murphy beds, and a 134 percent increase in searches for room dividers.)</p><p>"Halls and entrances now have a new function: sanitize ourselves before entering the rest of the house, plus a place to store loose items we don't want to bring into our clean areas," says Alexa Backal, head of design for <a href="https://casai.com/en?currency=USD" target="_blank">Casai</a>, a boutique travel rental company, which brings us to a new Covid-era of design.<br></p><p><br></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>SHOP FOR THE HOME</strong></p>
Grandmillennial<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTE4OTc1NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTQwMTY5Nn0.nZqEgs6NFRmJrw9e-dos53XWsY423940LmI9iMSxV6A/img.jpg?width=980" id="9fa52" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a65d79167844cfcb8385749390e443f2" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1920" data-height="1440" /><p>From cottage-core to crochet to neoclassical design, millennials are feeling nostalgia for (and coveting) their granny's decor in what some are calling <em>Grandmillennial</em> style. "I think Grandmillennials and sustainability actually go hand in hand. This trend is all about younger generations who love design and decor that we might culturally view as "old lady" or grandma-ish," says Alessandra Wood, VP of Style at online interior design service <a href="http://modsy.com/" target="_blank">Modsy</a>. That means ruffles, Victorian wallpaper like William Morris prints and antiques, anything you'll find at a flea market or your grandma's garage!</p>
Art Deco<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTE4MDc1NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMjQ3NjMwM30.RvCyBBpv0YcYWCM-6Zwr3tPOEAG7QHTdSz3UzhgimSg/img.jpg?width=980" id="31b79" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0ad097073d69d3108491bb37d1a39c80" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="5087" data-height="3634" />
Photo: Marius Chira<p>"Art deco is here to stay in 2021," says <a href="https://nylonconsulting-dot-yamm-track.appspot.com/Redirect?ukey=13SlMtNZ76DV52bZyncUCPPsHCtfpzs3A1r9yZk0xJSo-831740962&key=YAMMID-22079569&link=https%3A%2F%2Falexanderdohertydesign.com%2F" target="_blank">Alexander Doherty</a>, interior designer based in NYC and Paris. "Art deco design works very well in contemporary decors because of its sleek minimalism and the quality that comes from the pureness of lines. It is the mixture of what is old and new that gives a space character." After all, it is the roaring '20s!<br></p>
Joyful Botanicals<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTE4MTAxNS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NzkxMTg1N30.p669TTpFJHTRZqoemHVmQKRjW2s2VAfjHgWXmARn7JM/img.jpg?width=980" id="b257d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="34ccde6398e515c833739e0b86c8cf37" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="2400" data-height="2833" /><h1></h1><p>Get ready to embrace blooms in winter and beyond. Botanical walls, bedding, upholstery and more are making a big comeback. Barbara Karpf, founder and president of DecoratorsBest, says wallpaper like this <a href="https://www.decoratorsbest.com/products/york-garden-party-mural-ri5190m-wallpaper" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">York Garden Party Mural</a> ($128) are an affordable way to add drama to your home. "Murals are art in their own right. They cover the wall and provide unique art at the same time," she says.</p>
Flexible Design<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTE4MTI1NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNjEwMTY0Mn0.8FFkw5ekcndjbALUND8nW-vcKMqjjAFMJcjtFu4WVVk/img.jpg?width=980" id="2a5e4" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1cc77c1b0fcce3a4f67d32cbaf8d158b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="3000" data-height="4500" />
Photo: George Ross<p>"I am seeing a lot of enclosed kitchen spaces as opposed to large family room/ kitchen areas that are open to the rest of the home," says CEO and cabinet designer <a href="https://nylonconsulting-dot-yamm-track.appspot.com/Redirect?ukey=13SlMtNZ76DV52bZyncUCPPsHCtfpzs3A1r9yZk0xJSo-831740962&key=YAMMID-22079569&link=https%3A%2F%2Fpeacockhome.com%2F" target="_blank">Christopher Peacock</a>. But within the closed kitchens are more open plans and less built-in cabinetry. "An eclectic organic feel of mixed textures and materials is very welcoming and bistro like, and this is certainly popular," says Peacock.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong>SHOP FOR THE HOME</strong></p>