Gretchen Rubin (@gretchenrubin) is a former lawyer turned podcaster and best-selling author. Her latest book is The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too).
What We Discuss with Gretchen Rubin:
- We tend toward one of four archetypes based on how we respond to expectations: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels.
- Understanding these tendencies improves the ways we motivate and influence ourselves and others.
- We explore each tendency and how we can optimize our mental models and self-talk to get ourselves on the right track.
- We learn how to spot these tendencies in others and ensure we’re using the right types of incentives and communication to get the best from those around us.
- Take the quiz 600,000 others have taken to better understand how these frameworks can galvanize significant and lasting change.
- And much more…
Like this show? Please leave us a review here — even one sentence helps! Consider including your Twitter handle so we can thank you personally!
How do you respond to expectations? In The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too), Gretchen Rubin explains how answering this one simple question gives us a framework to make better decisions, manage time efficiently, suffer less stress, and engage with others more effectively. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
Please note that some of the links on this page (books, movies, music, etc.) lead to affiliate programs for which The Jordan Harbinger Show receives compensation. It’s just one of the ways we keep the lights on around here. Thank you for your support!
Sign up for Six-Minute Networking — our free networking and relationship development mini course — at jordanharbinger.com/course!
More About This Show
In the process of writing Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, Gretchen Rubin wondered why some people seem to form good habits more effortlessly than others. After countless interviews, she noted patterns that became the basis for her latest book, The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too).
While not a scientist herself, Gretchen considers her work more in line with philosophical observers and essayists like William James, Carl Jung, and Samuel Johnson.
“What I’m trying to do is identify something that everyone sees — everyone experiences and feels, but no one has really put their finger on it or given it expression in a way that everyone can talk about it,” says Gretchen. “To me, it’s sort of the proof of the pudding is in the eating. If you find these four tendencies to be meaningless and you don’t see them in the world around you, then it doesn’t work for you.
“But what I’ve found as I’ve been out in the world talking about it is that, in a way, they’re surprisingly blatant. The minute I start talking about them…people instantly know what they are; they start knowing what other people in their lives are. They’re like, ‘I can tell you what the characters on Game of Thrones are!’ It’s surprisingly blatant. This framework to me doesn’t seem subtle — it seems quite obvious.
“I’m a writer. I’m trying to prove it in a way that rings true for you and so that it can solve problems in your life because it illuminates hidden aspects of human nature that you might not have noticed before.”
The Four Tendencies
According to Gretchen, we all face two kinds of expectations:
- Outer expectations like work deadlines or requests from a friend.
- Inner expectations like following through on a New Year’s resolution or practicing guitar.
So ask yourself this simple question: “How do I respond to expectations?” Then go through the Four Tendencies listed below and see if anything starts to look familiar.
Upholders readily meet outer and inner expectations. They hit the work deadlines and keep the New Year’s resolutions without much fuss.
They want to know what other people expect from them, but their expectations for themselves are just as important.
Upholders want to be mindful of their own rigid expectations becoming too confining without any real benefits.
When communicating with an upholder, make sure to be upfront and clear about your own expectations rather than ambiguous or too flexible.
Fictional upholders: Hermione Granger, Stannis Baratheon
If you’re an upholder, you should go buy The Four Tendencies.
Questioners question all expectations. Every expectation becomes an inner expectation, and they’ll do something if they think it makes sense. If it doesn’t, they’ll push back.
They tend to object to anything arbitrary, inefficient, or irrational.
Questioners should be careful not to succumb to analysis paralysis — the inability to make a decision for fear of not having all the facts. They should also be aware that what they think is a perfectly reasonable battery of never-ending questions can be overwhelming to others.
When communicating with a questioner, be prepared to give them a concise reason for any requests you might have of them. Just sharing the benefits or end results of such a request with the questioner is infinitely more effective than dismissively blurting out “because I said so.”
A questioner you may have heard of: Jordan Harbinger
If you’re a questioner, you should go buy The Four Tendencies because you’ll learn a lot about yourself and others.
Obligers readily meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet inner expectations.
Someone might have been an excellent athlete in college with the support of a coach and a team, but now struggles to stay in shape left to her own devices.
Obligers want to be cautious of neglecting their own needs with excuses that prioritize the needs of others. Instead, they’re more likely to succeed by creating a system of accountability with others — like finding a gym buddy for getting in shape, or leading a book club to make time for reading.
When communicating with an obliger, be on the lookout for signs of burnout or resentment so you can intervene before they snap. They may feel the burden of external expectations that don’t even exist, or you may be taking advantage of them without even realizing it. Be fair and be clear.
Famous obliger: Andre Agassi
If you’re an obliger, everybody else wants you to read The Four Tendencies and you’ll be a better person.
Rebels reject all expectations, outer and inner alike. They want the freedom to do what they want to do in their own way in their own time, but are likely to resist someone else’s efforts to tell them what to do.
In truth, they don’t even like to tell themselves what to do.
Rebels should be careful they’re not being contrary simply for the sake of being contrary — this isn’t freedom, but a rigidity that runs counter to what some rebels believe is expected of them (or that they expect from themselves).
When communicating with a rebel, you can take this spirit of resistance into account and work with it instead of fueling it. Frame any request to a rebel in a way that makes it a choice: lay out the desired action and the consequences of doing it versus the consequences of not doing it.
Rebel writers: Geoff Dyer, Elizabeth Wurtzel
If you’re a rebel pondering whether or not to read The Four Tendencies, you do what you want.
What’s Your Tendency?
Did you find a tendency that seems to fit you, or do you think you’re a combination? They do overlap, but one tendency likely stands out from the others.
“It’s a Venn Diagram of four overlapping circles,” says Gretchen. “And each tendency overlaps with two tendencies…we’re all in a core tendency, but whether you tip to one side or the other kind of flavors how your tendency comes out.”
If you want to delve even deeper, be sure to take Gretchen’s free Four Tendencies Quiz here.
Listen to this episode in its entirety to learn more about why knowing our tendency is helpful, which tendencies are most common and which tendencies are rare, what we can do to counter the negative qualities of our own tendency, how we can best reach out to people of other tendencies, what techniques work for some tendencies and not others, and lots more.
THANKS, GRETCHEN RUBIN!
If you enjoyed this session with Gretchen Rubin, let her know by clicking on the link below and sending her a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin
- Take The Four Tendencies Quiz
- The Better App from Gretchen Rubin
- Happier with Gretchen Rubin (podcast)
- Gretchen Rubin’s website
- Gretchen Rubin at Facebook
- Gretchen Rubin at Instagram
- Gretchen Rubin at Twitter
- Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin
- Stanford Marshmallow Experiment
- William James
- Carl Jung
- Samuel Johnson
- Hermione Granger
- Stannis Baratheon
- Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi
- Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D. H. Lawrence by Geoff Dyer
- Elizabeth Wurtzel Confronts Her One-Night Stand of a Life by Elizabeth Wurtzel, New York Magazine
Transcript for Gretchen Rubin | Four Tendencies: The Framework for a Better Life (Episode 18)
Gretchen Rubin: [00:00:00] One way to understand human nature is to put a bunch of Stanford undergraduates in a laboratory and feed them marshmallows and see what happens. Absolutely. I love that research. I read it all the time. I think it's fascinating and illuminating, but you can also just begin by looking at what you see all around you.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:15] Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger and as always, I'm here with my producer Jason DeFillippo. On this episode, we're talking with my friend, Gretchen Rubin. She is the host of The Happier Podcast and the author of The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People's Lives Better, Too). Today we'll discover The Four Tendencies, personality archetypes, so we can improve our understanding of what motivates others as well as how to influence and motivate ourselves. For each of these tendencies, we'll explore how we can optimize our mental models and self-talk to get ourselves on the right track and we'll get some practical insight and how we can spot these tendencies and others and ensure that we're using the right types of incentives and communication to get the best from those around us. Don't forget, we've got worksheets for today's episode so you can make sure you solidify your understanding and application of all the key takeaways from Gretchen Rubin.
[00:01:06] That link is in the show notes at JordanHarbinger.com/podcast. Now here's Gretchen Rubin. Gretchen, thanks for coming back on the show. Much appreciated.
Gretchen Rubin: [00:01:16] Oh, I'm so happy to be talking to you again. Thanks for having me.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:01:19] Of course. I saw The Four Tendencies and I read the book of course, as I always do and I thought, yes. All right. These look to be some kind of, any sort of, I don't know what you want to call it. Is it heuristic? Is that the right word where we can use to measure people or label people and make them a little bit simpler than humans normally, as complicated humans normally are is always welcome and it seems like you've really figured something out here.
Gretchen Rubin: [00:01:44] Oh, that's great to hear. No, I agree. I feel like it's helpful to have sort of ways that illuminate patterns that instead of just feeling like you're just like this complex person and I'm a complex person, what do we make of ourselves? Is there a vocabulary or definitions that can help us take short cuts so that we can understand each other better?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:04] Shortcuts to understanding humans is always a win in my book. How did you begin to notice these things? What prompted the discovery process for you here? Because it's an extremely difficult undertaking to say, all right, every human fits into one of these four categories. That's like a really gigantic project.
Gretchen Rubin: [00:02:25] Yeah. Well, and it's a pretty bold claim. I would say though I'd really do stand behind it, but yeah, I got through it in a very kind of surprising way. I realized that there was this thing, The Four Tendencies framework, what it eventually turned out to be when I was researching my book, my previous book called Better Than Before, which is all about habit change, how people make and break habits successfully. And as I was doing that, I was sort of quizzing everyone I knew unmercifully about how they were forming habits. And a friend said something with something that many people had said similar things to me before but for some reason when she said it, it just like hit me like a ton of bricks. She said, “Well, you know, here's the weird thing about me. I know I would be happier if I exercise and I want to exercise.
[00:03:08] And when I was in high school, I was on the track team and I never missed track practice. So why can't I go running now?” And I thought, well, why? Because it's the same person, it's the same behavior. At one time she did it with no effort and now she can't get herself to do it. So how do you explain that? And so I started thinking about that. And then I started to notice other patterns that where people would really say kind of the same thing or have the same reaction. For instance, if I would say to people, “Well, how do you feel about New Year's resolutions?” There was a group of people who would say almost verbatim, “I would keep a resolution when it made sense for me, but I would not wait for January 1st because January 1st is an arbitrary date.” So I began searching for like how did these patterns fit together?
[00:03:50] Were they related to each other? Why were certain people answering in the same way? And certain people were having different reactions, maybe even opposite reactions. And so it just about melted my brain, but eventually I did end up with The Four Tendencies framework.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:05] Okay. There have to be people that are saying, “Oh, of course, surprise, surprise. Some privileged white lady from the suburbs comes up with a way of understanding humanity.” In fact, I didn't just make that up. I actually saw that as one of your reviews and I just thought, “Okay, you have to be getting some pushback from people who think are you a scientist?” Didn't think so. What gives you the right to come up with four archetypes that encompass human personality types and so I'm going to ask you that so that people don't ask themselves that and go away disappointed.
Gretchen Rubin: [00:04:34] You know, it's interesting because one way to understand human nature is to put a bunch of Stanford undergraduates in a laboratory and feed them marshmallows and see what happens. Absolutely. I love that research. I read it all the time. I think it's fascinating and illuminating, but you can also just begin by looking at what you see all around you. You know that's what William James did. That's what Carl Young did. They just looked around at people and said like, “Well, what can I observe? What can I see just in the people around me?” Probably my greatest model in studying human nature is seeing Neil Johnson. So I really fit myself into kind of category of great SAFs or you know, not that I'm a great SAF like Samuel Johnson is, but like that's my model, I'm not trying to pretend to be a scientist.
[00:05:16] I'm trying to pretend to be Samuel Johnson. What I'm trying to do is to identify something that everyone sees, everyone experiences and feels, but no one has really put their finger on it or given it expression in a way that everyone can talk about it. And so, and to me it's sort of the proof of the pudding is in the eating. If you find these four tendencies to be meaningless and you don't see them in the world around you, then it doesn't work for you. But what I found is I've been out in the world talking about it is that in a way it's like they're surprisingly blatant. It's like the minute I start talking about them and go through what's an upholder, what's a question? Or what's an obliger? What's a rebel? People instantly kind of know what they are. They start knowing what other people in their lives are, they’re like, I can tell you what the characters on Game of Thrones are, you know, I mean, it's like you see it everywhere.
[00:06:00] It's surprisingly blatant. This framework to me doesn't seem subtle. It seems quite obvious. And so I think a lot of times people who are skeptical when they start thinking through it and they start thinking like, “Well yeah, I can see how my boss does that. And yeah, my daughter does that. And yeah, my spouse does that. And I remember how my college roommate did that and I remembered this is why I got in trouble in middle school because of this problem.” Like it's something that rings true and that's what I'm trying to do. I'm not trying to prove it in some kind of like, you know, like I've had multiple articles published in scientific journals way. That's not my thing, right? I'm a writer. I'm trying to prove it in a way that it rings true for you and so that it can solve problems in your life because it kind of illuminates hidden aspects of human nature that you might not have noticed before.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:47] Well, I'll tell you, that was my reaction. Because at first, whenever I see books or knowledge bases that say, “Look, these are four archetypes”, I always go, “Um, okay, let's figure out what these archetypes are and whether or not they're valid.” And if, as soon as I started reading the four tendencies, I was like, “Okay, this one is me, this one is my mom, this one. And I went, damn it. Okay. It's hard to poke holes in this. Right?
Gretchen Rubin: [00:07:10] I want to get to what your tendency is, like we cannot overlook that. Just find out what your tendency is.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:16] No, we're getting there for sure. And we all have these tendencies in some measure. And I thought that was pretty important. Because at first I thought, “Oh this one's me. Oh wait, no, no, no, no. This one's me. Shoot, this one's me too.” So the problem that I think comes out of this is when we read this, we might think, “All right, well I have all four of these. So that must mean everybody has all four of these”, or they're just so vague that everyone has all four and they're not useful. But then I started to realize, all right, maybe I fall more into one bucket than the others. And this is something that you addressed in the book as well. Can you explain this concept? Because I think otherwise people might say, “Well yeah, everyone fits into all of these. So it's not useful.”
Gretchen Rubin: [00:07:58] Yeah. Why don't I explain what they are and then people can sort of be figuring out what I think from what you're saying, I suspect that I know what your tendency is, but we will get to that in a minute. So this has to do with how you respond to expectations. And we all face two kinds of expectations. Outer expectations which are things like a work deadline or a request from a friend. These are expectations that come to us from the outside and then there are inner expectations, the expectations that we put on ourselves. So I want to keep the New Year's resolution. I want to get back into practicing guitar. So there are upholders, questioners, obligers and rebels. Upholders readily meet outer and inner expectations. They meet the work deadline. They keep the New Year's resolution without much fuss.
[00:08:39] They want to know what other people expect from them, but their expectations for themselves are just as important. Then there are questioners. Questioners question all expectations. They'll do something if they think it makes sense. So they make everything an inner expectation. If it meets their inner standard, they will do it. No problem. If it fails their inner standard, they will push back and they tend to object to anything arbitrary, inefficient, irrational. Then there are obligers. Obligers readily meet outer expectations, but they struggle to meet inner expectations. And this is my friend on the track team when she had a team and a coach expecting her to show up, she had no trouble going, but when she was just trying to go on her own, she struggled. And then they're finally, there are rebels. Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner. Like they want to do what they want to do in their own way, in their own time.
[00:09:23] They can do anything they want to do, they can do anything they choose to do. But if you ask or tell them to do something, they're very likely to resist. And typically they don't even like to tell themselves what to do. Now there's a quiz that people can take on like 1.3 million people now who have taken my quiz. It's on my site, gretchenrubin.com. So you can take a quiz that will like spit out an answer, but I have to say most people know what they are just from this brief description or like a little bit of conversation about it. Because like I say, they're pretty blatant. So those are the four.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:53] Okay. So upholder, questioner, obliger and rebel. And I want to break each one of these down in a real detailed fashion in a bit. But we need to definitely go over these briefly so people know what the hell I'm talking about when I'm asking you questions about the same archetypes as well.
Gretchen Rubin: [00:10:07] Right. Those are the definitions and what's interesting about them is they aren't the same number of all of them. They're not equally represented in the world. The biggest tendency for both men and women, the one that most number of people belong to is obliger. You either are an obliger or you have many obligers in your life. It's a big, big group of people. After that questioners. The smallest tendency, it's a very conspicuous tendency, but it's a small tendency is rebel and only slightly larger is upholder, which is my tendency. They're not that many rebels and not that many upholders. They're kind of like the extreme personality types. Most people that you're going to be dealing with, you're probably going to be dealing with obligers and questioners.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:43] Okay. And these are interesting and that they do describe a lot of people's behaviors, but again, we all have these tendencies in some measure. It's just that we have sort of a different bucket that maybe we identify with more according to the quiz, which of course we'll link up in the show notes. I didn't take the quiz itself, I just did it mentally and it didn't work out as well as it would have if I'd actually taken the quiz on the site. Because what I found, and maybe this has to do with my tendency, I just found myself editing and going, well sometimes though I'm this way, which probably means what I'm a questioner or something like this. I don't know. What does this mean?
Gretchen Rubin: [00:11:20] Yeah. Well let me ask you this. If there was something that you wanted to do, like you wanted to get back into bike riding regularly or you wanted to get back into, you know, learning Spanish or something like that, would you be able to do that if you wanted to?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:37] Yeah. I just chose to learn Chinese five years ago. So I Googled, learn Chinese on Skype, figured that had to exist, found a place, signed up, take five years of Chinese lessons, still taking them.
Gretchen Rubin: [00:11:48] Right. So I think you're probably a questioner and it's interesting the reason that I thought you were a questioner right at the beginning of the conversation because one thing that's very typical of questioners is they say everybody's a mix of everything. And they find it very hard to see that because they sort of resist the idea that anybody can be defined or you know, that the complexity of human nature could be put into four categories. And also they'll say things like, “Well, in some ways I'm like an upholder. Like, you know, I'll do it very easily because somebody asks me to do it.
[00:12:16] Like somebody I respect, ask me to do something I do with no problem, like an upholder.” Or if somebody I think is an idiot asks me to do something, I am not going to do it, I'm like a rebel. Well, that's very questioner. That's what questioners do because their whole question is, “Why should I?” It's interesting because upholders, obligers and rebels realize, they realize, they feel their tendency more powerfully like obligers. They feel the fact that they're meeting outer expectations, but they're not meeting their own inner expectations. They feel that rebels feel that powerful spirit of resistance, that powerful urge for always having freedom and choice that rebels feel. And you know, upholders have this, you know, this love of discipline. Discipline is my freedom -- is the motto of upholders and they feel how different they are. The question is, you're like, “Well, doesn't everybody act this way?”
[00:13:00] And I'm like, “Really, they don't.” And saying that kind of thing is the kind of thing that questioners say. But having said that, you're absolutely right. None of us want to do something that's arbitrary or a big waste of time. So in that way, we're all like questioners and all of us don't want to be totally controlled. We all have reactants. So in that way where like rebels who want freedom and choice in what we do, all of us would sacrifice something that's important to us in order to do something that was very important to somebody who was important to us. Like an obliger. So you're right, we all have a little bit of this, but as you say, we're sort of in a core tendency that shapes kind of our instinctual response to situations over and over and over again so that we can see patterns and how somebody acts at work or acts at home or acts at school. You start seeing like, “Okay, this person is showing obliger patterns or this person showing questioner patterns.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:54] This episode is sponsored in part by Varidesk. Companies, employees want an active workspace and Varidesk can help people sort of re-imagine that work environment, transform that office design, which is really important I think. I think having healthier and more active employees, obviously it's going to boost energy, boost productivity. We've talked about that here on the show before and Varidesk makes it easy to encourage more movement in any workplace and they've got this new Pro Desk 60 Electric standing desk. It's designed for professionals, hence the name Pro Desk and it's designed with commercial-grade materials. In other words, it's not like flimsy. We talked about sneezing and your desk falls over your standing desk. It's stable at any height. I know that that's funny as a copy point, but I'll tell you that is extremely important when you're talking about a standing desk and you don't have to spend six years assembling it.
[00:14:43] You can assemble this thing in under five minutes plus it's really built to last. It's really simple to set up. Like I said, it's a really nice piece for your office, so try Varidesk including that new Pro Desk 60 Electric. You can try it risk-free for 30 days with free shipping, free returns if you're not satisfied. varidesk.com/forbes, that's V A R I D E S K.com/forbes. Support for the Jordan Harbinger Show comes from our friends over at Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans. This is the mortgage company that decided to ask “why’. There's a lot of “why’s” with mortgages. Why does it take so long to approve? Why can't I adjust my rate in real time? Why can't I adjust my term in real time? Why isn't there tech behind mortgages? Why am I sitting in front of a dude with a stack of paper? This doesn't make any sense. Quicken Loans answers these questions with Rocket Mortgage. Basically, it's all done online. You can understand all the details. Be confident you're getting the right mortgage for you. Whether you're looking to buy your first home or your 10th it's a transparent online process. You can get some confidence behind the decision you can apply simply, you can understand fully and you can mortgage confidently. So to get started, go to RocketMortgage.com/forbes, that's RocketMortgage.com/forbes. Take it away, Jason.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:15:54] Equal housing lender licensed in all 50 States NMLSconsumeraccess.org number 3030.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:01] This episode is also sponsored in part by SmartMouth. One of our favorite things to put in our mouth. I think that right, Jason.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:16:08] And ain't that the truth?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:10] So this stuff is amazing. I mean it kills your bad breath like most mouthwash does, but then it eliminates the ability of the bacteria in your mouth to consume protein and create the off-gas, and the volatile sulfur compounds, the sulfur gas, which is one of the nasty things that you smell when you smell someone's dirty ass breath. So you are a little more confident. You don't have to worry about your odor, or at least your breath, you know the other orders coming off you, that's, you know, beyond the purview of this particular piece of mouthwash here. But first impressions matter. I remember bad hygiene. When I go to conferences, if someone has bad breath, I am backing away from them. I am not wanting to hang out with the, I know, maybe I'm sensitive to it. I am generally sensitive to smells, but this is, it's just really gross. Especially now that I know it's bacteria farts. Just not a fan.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:16:57] Yeah. That's the thing. It's just like, Oh now you know that what makes it, that’s terrible. And it's funny, I posted a picture of my breakfast this morning. It was a piece of Cajun fried catfish because sometimes you get sick of eggs, but you need your protein in the morning, and I posted it on Instagram and my friend wrote back, he's like, “Man, I hope you use some SmartMouth after that.” And I'm like, “Well, indeed I did.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:17:16] Yes, you better. You better. So if you want to solve that problem, use the one with science in it, smartmouth.com to get the scoop or you can find it at Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Target, Amazon, or wherever you shop. Before we dive into each one of these and sort of outline what each one means and how to identify it, I'd love to discuss why it's important to find our tendency and also why it's important to find and identify other people's tendencies. Let's start with our own. Why is it important for us to even know this? It seems like I functioned the way that I do. I'm not trying to change it. Why do I even need to know this information at all?
Gretchen Rubin: [00:17:55] Well, that's great that you're not trying to change the way you function. That's very questioner and also very upholder. The problem happens is when you run into some kind of frustration or some kind of conflict or when other people don't get you in a way that's very annoying to you, so say obligers, they readily meet outer expectations, but they're all often frustrated with themselves because they're not meeting their expectations for themselves and the lesson for obligers and so if I were an obliger, you know, it's like if you're not meeting your inner expectations for yourself, the solution to that is outer accountability. You want to create outer structures of outer accountability for things that are inner expectations. You want to read more Jordan, join a book group. You want to exercise more, Jordan? Will you want to take a class or workout with a trainer or workout with a friend who's going to be annoyed if you don't show up or volunteer to do a charity fun run so they're not going to make as much money if you don't show up.
[00:18:43] Are you going to take your dog for a run? Who's going to be so disappointed if you don't take her for her daily run? And by the way, if he's going to chew up the living room furniture, you want to create outer accountability. And so knowing your tendency shows you how to solve it. Because here's the thing, as a questioner, if you were trying to tell an obliger what to do, like, so let's think of my friend on the track team. Let's say you as a questioner, we're trying to advise my friend who wanted to go running, as a questioner you might say something like, “You just have to think about what you want and what's right for you. And once you get it really clear in your head what's important to you and why you want to do that, you'll be able to do that for yourself.”
[00:19:19] Well that's what would work for a questioner. That is not what works for an obliger. And so that obliger who's hearing that? He's like, “Well what's wrong with me? Because Jordan is going running all the time. Jordan is learning Chinese. Why can't I? Do I lack self-control? Do I lack willpower? Am I lazy? What's wrong with me?” It's like, “No, there is nothing wrong with you. What you need to do is have outer accountability. Take a class, join a group, tell your kids when you're doing your homework, I'm going to do my homework. When you're learning, when you're doing your math and English, I'm going to be doing my Chinese and hey kids, if I'm not studying Chinese, you don't have to do your homework either and your kids will act like you're a police man because they'd be like, “Hey, why don't you take a night off at Chinese? You know, we could use a break around here.” There's a million ways to fix it once you know what the problem is. So I think the tendency can show you perhaps why you're feeling stuck or why you're feeling frustrated or why other people don't seem to understand the challenges that you face.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:17] And of course, we can identify other people's tendencies and then use that to persuade them using their language, right? So if I'm the questioner telling your obliger friend, “Well, you just need to make a plan and do the research and stick with it.” And they say, “What the hell?” It's like, well, if I know that you're an obliger, I can say, “Hey, I'll tell you what, why don't you get some and set up that accountability and I can set that or even set that up for them if I'm their boss at work” and say, ‘Hey, guess what? We're all going to do this way.’ If I find that I've got a team of people and I don't know, maybe I would even pair the obligers together on one team, the questioners on another, or have them interact with each other in certain ways that use these tendencies. So of course these tendencies will help us understand those people and persuade them using their language, which is why, which is what really makes these a communications archetype or some sort of modality instead of just a label for people in general.
Gretchen Rubin: [00:21:09] Right, exactly. Like for instance, one thing that questioners are often criticized for is they're told, “Well, you ask too many questions.” And they can be seen to be disrespectful or not team players or undermining of other's authority or challenging of other's position because they're asking so many questions. Let's say you're a teacher and you have a kid who's like, “Why should I have to learn the multiplication tables? If I can look it up on my phone, why should I have to learn to write cursive if I can just type it out? Why do I have to learn about ancient Mesopotamia?” It's like if that child understands why you're asking that child to do that, spend that time and energy to do that, that questioner child will get with the program, no problem. But if you just say, “Well, I'm the teacher, all fourth graders have to do it because I say so”. Well that questioner is going to find that totally illegitimate.
[00:21:50] And so once you understand, “Okay, this child is not trying to be disrespectful, this child is not trying to like be a bottleneck of the class or be disruptive. They're just honestly saying like, ‘why would a person memorize the multiplication tables? If you could just look it up in one second’, there's an answer for that.” Or there should be. Or then why are they memorizing the multiplication tables? Give them the true answer and then they can follow on. And so then yes, it tells you this is not a disrespectful child. This is just a questioner child asking what they consider to be perfectly legitimate questions. Questions that deserve an answer, give them the answer and they will get with the program.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:25] I love this and I wish my dentist knew this. Because when I was a kid, I remember my dentist said, and I was friends with his son and his son always flossed and brushed and I was like, “What a sucker. This guy's always flossing and brushing.” And he was clearly an upholder and his dad is like, “Look, Jason is always doing that. Jason's always doing that.” That was his son's name. And I said, “Well, you know, I'm not doing it.” And so for a long time and my teeth were so healthy and my dentist was like, “You have no cavities, this is great.” And I was thinking, “I never brush and I never flossed and I don't have any cavities. So I'm winning. I'm winning the teeth.” And then years and years and years go by. And of course here I am, 38 years old, I go to my dentist and he goes, “Wow, you know your teeth, you got, what can I say?
[00:23:06] You got the teeth of somebody your own age.” And I went, “But I used to have such healthy teeth.” And he goes, “Yeah, but you know, you didn't take care of them for awhile.” And I'm like, “Yeah, I thought it was getting away with it.” And he goes, “No, you should brush your teeth in the morning because it stimulates the gums and you've got to brush your teeth at night because it gets rid of the stuff you ate during the day.” And I always went, “Well, I never brushed in the morning because I didn't know why. I thought it was just to freshen my breath so I use mouthwash.” And he goes, “No, it stimulates your gums and it's good for this.” And I went, “You know, if somebody had told me that 25 years ago, I would have done it every day.”
Gretchen Rubin: [00:23:33] See, this is the thing. And I hear so many poignant stories from questioners when they're like, “If somebody had just explained it to me, then fine.” But it's like if nobody explains it to you, you're like, “Why am I going to waste my time and my effort?” I just heard about somebody age who loved playing soccer but quit soccer in high school because he was a goalie and the coach made him run sprints and laps with everybody and he's like, “Well, why should I do that? I'm the goalie, I should do goalie-specific exercises.” And the coach is like, “Look, I'm the coach and this is how we all train.” And he's like, “Well then I quit.” Because it just didn't make sense to him. But if this coach had taken five minutes and said, “Hey listen, I know it might seem like it doesn't make sense, but when you look at the training practices of all the greatest teams and you look at how they train their goalies, what they've found is that your reflex time goes up or whatever.”
[00:24:15] I mean, is there a reason? Give them the reason and then they will be able to follow. And once they decide it makes sense, then they can follow. It just follows naturally. But you're right. It's like if somebody just dismisses it and says, “Well, you should just take my word for it.” It's like that's not good enough. That's not good enough for a questioner.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:33] Especially an adult to a kid because of course it's like, “Well, take my word for it.” And I'm like, “One, you’re old. You don't know anything because you're old and you dress like a dad. So I'm never going to listen to you.” And we like to write kids off and say, “Look at this rebellious kid.” But I feel like rebel and questioner might get confused all the time. Especially with kids.
Gretchen Rubin: [00:24:53] Well they do sometimes get confused. Again I think once you know the tendencies, you realize that there's a very profound difference. But you're right, like from the outside, because you always have to know someone's tendency from the inside. You have to know how they think. You cannot judge it from how they behave. Like for somebody who said to me, Oh, anybody who looked at me in high school would've said I was a rebel. But in fact I was doing what all my friends expected me to do and I'm an obliger. But, so like let's say I'm the teacher and I have two children who are refusing to do homework. One is a child, he's a questioner child who's thinking, “This is a dumb assignment. It's a big waste of my time. I'm not going to do it.” And then the others are rebel who's saying, “You're not the boss of me.
[00:25:27] You can't make me. I'm not going to.” Now the way I would talk to the questioner child would be very different from the way that I talk to the rebel child. The way you can always tell the difference because you're right, they do sometimes look the same, especially from the outside is if you ask a person to do something, is their response, why should I? Why should I is questioner or is their response, “You're not the boss of me” -- that is rebel. Because rebels are like, “You can't control me. I'm not going to follow doctor's orders. I'm the one who's making choices and making decisions and deciding what to do. So they can look alike, but they are actually quite distinct. But of course they overlap. They both resist outer expectations.
[00:26:05] And so in that way, there is a deep affinity among questioners and rebels.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:09] It seems like maybe in order to figure out why we think we fall into one bucket more than others, the reasons for our behavior count here, right? So it's not just, “Well, they're not doing it so they must be a rebel.” It's, well actually, is the reason they're not doing it because you're like you said, you're not the boss of me or is there a reason you're not doing it because it wasn't explained so therefore it probably has no value because half the stuff I get assigned in this stupid school is worthless and I'm never going to use it and et cetera, right?
Gretchen Rubin: [00:26:34] Yes. You have to know why people are like, how do they think? What are they thinking? Because from the outside it's easy not to be able to tell what someone is. You have to understand their thinking.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:49] So let's run through the archetypes starting with upholder because this is one that I didn't even know existed. I mean, these, first of all, I guess I didn't know many of these existed. I always had an idea that rebel and questioner were in there, not surprisingly, because I obviously a questioner and rebels probably like you said, one of the most conspicuous, but upholder and obliger. They definitely make sense when you talk about them. And I would love to give people this sort of vocabulary of these archetypes so that they can start observing them in others and in themselves.
Gretchen Rubin: [00:27:20] Yeah, well upholder is, as I said, it's a small tendency, not that many people are upholders and I'm an upholder myself. So it's my tendency. And the thing about upholders is they're self-starters. They're self-reliant. They don't need a lot of supervision. They're very good at, you know, just going off and getting something done. Whether it's something somebody tells them to do or ask them to do or something that they want to do on their own. So this is the person who gets the report done. No problem. This is the kid that remembers to feed the fish. You know Hermoine Granger is probably the most famous upholder or if you're a Game of Thrones person Stannis Baratheon is kind of a negative side of an upholder, but all the tendencies of upsides and downsides, they all have strengths that are kind of paired with the corresponding weakness.
[00:28:04] So one of the weaknesses or limitations you see with upholders is they can seem cold because they will meet their inner expectation even when others maybe would wish that they wouldn't. So it's like, “Well you know what, I know you, yeah, we got company coming to stay with us this weekend. But you know, I'm training for the marathon so I got to go for a 15 mile run on Saturday.” So I'm afraid that just has to happen. Or you know, “You want me to help you proof-read your report before it's due tomorrow morning, but my report is due as well. I don't have time to help you with your report because I got to work on my own report.” That can seem cold and upholders can also have something tightening, which is when wolves get tighter. Like I'm one of these crazy low carb people that you read about.
[00:28:41] I really eat like no carbs. And when I started eating low carb, I was pretty strict about it. But over time the rules have become much tighter and in that respect it's good. Like I like being very, very strict about it, but sometimes it can get kind of choking. Like the friend of mine who was, you know, trying to hit 10,000 steps on his Apple watch and so he was like jogging next to the toilet at midnight while his wife was asleep in the bedroom. You know, because he's like, “I'm going to get to those 10,000 steps.” Now you might think that's good, but you might also think like, “Well maybe that's kind of a pain to like feel that much pressure to like meet every expectation.” So that's tightening. Upholders want to be very aware of that. Very mindful of that so that they don't, they don't unconsciously fall into it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:22] OK. So upholder tightening is when we start making rules like, “Hey, I'm going to cut down on carbs.” And then pretty soon you can't even smell rice because it throws your diet off whack and you're going insane. You can't go out to dinner with anybody because there might be carbs in your drink, you know, that of thing.
Gretchen Rubin: [00:29:42] Yeah. You know, and like a friend of mine who's an upholder, his girlfriend was using this budgeting app and she was great for her. She loved it and she was trying to encourage him to use it and he's like, “You know, I can't even, I won't even try something like that because I know I would instantly become so preoccupied with tracking every single penny that I spent that I would spend way too much time and energy doing that. And by the way, I don't really have a problem with spending, so I don't want to get into that territory because I could tighten on me and really just like consume too much of my energy because I would be sort of overly conscientious. It would tighten up. It would become tighter and tighter. So sometimes as an employee you're like, “Okay, I'm just not going to get into that because I just see that that might, you know, I don't want to risk getting carried away.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:26] Those are the people that have spreadsheets for every item in their garage and it's like, you know, you could just dump this out. No, I want to record of everything. Okay. Why? I don't know. I'd have OCD because I'm an upholder and I gave it to myself through tightening over years and never putting it in check.
Gretchen Rubin: [00:30:41] Being OCD wouldn't necessarily be an upholder thing that would be like on a different thing. One of the things that's interesting about upholders is you might think that upholders would be the ones that felt the most pressure or felt like the weight of expectations the most since they feel both the outer and inner, but in fact it's obligers who feel the greatest weight. It's because upholders have inner expectations. So upholders will say things like, “Well I'm sorry I can't do what you're at. I can't stay late for the team because I've got to get in my yoga class.” You know, like they will make time for themselves. They have that inner architecture of inner expectations. So there'll be like I'll say, you know, I always like to have upholders tend to like to do lists and calendars and predictability.
[00:31:18] And I'll say things like, “Well, on Saturday afternoon I'm going to read on the couch for three hours”, and I'll do that, you know? And it's like, well yeah I can't, I don't have time to do something else for you because I got to read on the couch. Like it's my time for me, I feel like doing some readings. So that's what I'm going to do my reading. So in a way the weight of inner expectations helps upholders not to fall into tightening if they're aware of it or like to make time for themselves because they consider meeting inner expectations for themselves, like doing leisure things just as important or more important as meeting outer expectations. It's really obligers who feel the weight of expectations the most heavily.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:49] So from a practical perspective, the action step, if we find ourselves as an upholder, what's our key takeaway here? Be aware that tightening might be happening and then try to short circuit that process.
Gretchen Rubin: [00:32:02] Yeah, just be mindful of it in a way. The upholder just can always rally inner expectations. They can just say something like, “This isn't good for me. Like this is a waste of my time.” You know? It's not helping me meet my own expectations for myself. I'm going to loosen my grip on this thing. But they have to be aware that it's happening.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:19] And how do we work with and communicate with upholders if I find that, okay, my assistant is an upholder, are there little, I don't want to say tricks, but is there some sort of communication tactic that might be more effective with somebody who says, “Nope, I've got this obligation or I've got that obligation”, and I know that they're an upholder, how can I trick into doing what I want, Gretchen?
Gretchen Rubin: [00:32:40] The thing about upholders is they're readily meet outer expectations and inner expectations. So you probably aren't running into too many conflicts of that sort with an upholder, I mean, or else they just won't do it. You know, they would just like a questioner where they'd just be like, yeah, I am not going to, like, I'm not going to answer work emails over the weekend. Like I'm just not going to, I mean that's just the way that, you know, but they would be very upfront about that. One of the things if you're dealing with an upholder is they tend not to be very, they can be perceived as rigid and they can seem not that flexible because they tend to like have an idea of how they want things to go forward, like a to do list or a set of priorities or a schedule and it's hard for them to move off of that.
[00:33:15] So they tend not to do well in situations where there's like a high need for flexibility or for things changing rapidly, like rapidly changing circumstances or schedules or where it's not clear what expectations are and where expectations are ambiguous. That would tend to not be a situation where an upholder would thrive. They do better when it's like very clear when and where and what they're supposed to do and like then they can just, you know, then they can just execute.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:40] You mentioned obligers sort of, I don’t know, in the Venn diagram, what would you call it, overlapping a little bit with the upholder here or possibly also being the negative mirror image of an upholder in which they're fulfilling.
Gretchen Rubin: [00:33:54] Well, you're exactly right. It's a Venn diagram, so it's a Venn diagram of four overlapping circles and each tendency overlaps with two tendencies.
[00:34:02] So like you’re a questioner and questioners overlap with upholders on one side because they both readily meet inner expectations and questioners off also overlap with rebels on the other side because they both readily resist outer expectations. And so, and we're all in a core tendency, but whether you tip to one side or the other kind of flavors, how your tendency comes out. So like my husband is a questioner who tips to upholder so it's pretty easy to convince him why certain kinds of rules make sense. Like some questioners are very distressed about like speed limits, which they consider to be totally arbitrary. Like why is it that you and I both drive the same speed when I'm clearly, it's such a better driver than you are five garments to a dressing room. Why five? Like does this just like this doesn't make any sense to him.
[00:34:43] It's pretty easy to get him to go along with things like that. Whereas other rebels, I mean other questioners who tip more than rebels, they really have that spirit of resistance. They are really going to push back against any kind of expectation or rule. And we'll see clearly think it's justified. So you're absolutely right. Obligers overlap with upholders on the one side, because they both readily meet outer expectations, but obligers also overlap with rebels and that they both resist inner expectations. And whether an obliger tips to upholder or rebel is going to make a very big difference in how that tendency comes out.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:17] Tell us more about obligers because when I think of an obliger, I think of somebody who's always working to, you know, I think of the proverbial mom with two kids who goes, “I never have time for myself.” And I go, “Yeah, I understand
Gretchen Rubin: [00:35:27] That’s one. That's one way that an obliger can resent. But another like a very famous obliger is Andre Agassi. Textbook obliger. absolutely textbook obliger. If you read his memoir, Open, which is a brilliant book. I don't even care about tennis, but it's a brilliant memoir. He's this obliger all over every page. You know, or somebody who's like, “You know what, I'm there for my patients at the hospital 24/7 like I give 110% to my clients.” I’d like, “You expect me to exercise? I got no time to exercise because I'm giving 110% to them.” That's obliger, you know? Or like, “Oh, I'm managing eight sales teams. Like every day I'm in a different place. Like people are calling me all the time. Like, you know, people need so much from me. I don't have time to get healthy.” That’s obliger talk. Then it's like everything is going, everything that I'm doing is because others expect from me, but not because I expect it for myself.
[00:36:21] That is obliger so it can look like that. But like sometimes people think that obligers are all people pleasers? Oh no, no, no. Some obligers are people pleasers. But first, I think for a lot of obligers, that's how they explain the obliger pattern. But what's really going on is they're meeting outer expectations. You can very easily be a very curmudgeonly obliger that for sure that because the idea that you're a people pleaser is, might appear with obliger, but might not because the four tendencies explained to us a very narrow aspect of your personality. So depending on how ambitious you are, how considerate of other people's feelings you are, how extroverted or introverted you are, how adventurous you are, all these things would be different. It's just how do you respond to expectations. That's what makes somebody like an obliger.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:37:02] Got you. So the difference between in a people pleaser obliger and like you said, a curmudgeonly obliger is the people pleaser. It might look like obligers are people pleasers, but sometimes the obliger doesn't really care if the other person is happy. They're still being an obliger. They're just following those outside expectations. But they're not doing it to be liked, per se.
Gretchen Rubin: [00:37:24] Yes, a 100%. It's almost like people see the pattern of why they're doing what they're doing and they're like, “Why am I doing this?” And so they think, “Well, I guess I'm a people pleaser.” And I'm like, “No, no, no, no, no, no. You're readily meet outer expectations and struggling to meet inner expectations.” That's kind of a much more base level explanation what's going on. It lets a lot of kind of bits and bobs that people attach to it that aren't necessary fall away and then it's much clearer how to proceed because the key thing for obliger is like, and I think this is probably the most important takeaway for like a of people reading the book, is that when obligers are struggling to meet inner expectations, which by definition they are, that is the definition of an obliger.
[00:38:03] They need outer accountability. That's the whole thing. That is the answer for them. Create outer accountability. Like don't mess around with your priorities or putting yourself first or taking time for self care or any of that stuff. Give yourself outer accountability and then you'll do it. I mean that, that's just how it works. You know, and I've heard of all kinds of funny things like somebody I know really wanted to write an ebook course. Well you know, he, “Why can't I do it? I need to learn to make myself our priority.” Like why, you know, and they had all these kinds of emotional explanations for what he was doing and a million reasons why his family and his schedule wasn't cooperating. And then he thought, “Oh, you know what, I'll email my newsletter list and say the first 10 people who sign up for the eCourse, we'll get it free.”
[00:38:48] And now there are 10 people waiting for the eCourse. They're like, “Hey man, where's my eCourse?” So now he has to create it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:53] Ah, so you have to impose outside accountability as if your own needs are really the needs of other people by maybe even making them the needs of other people.
Gretchen Rubin: [00:39:02] No, you're like, don't worry about your needs. Carry it out or accountability. So you could create a client, you could create students. I know people who are like, “I will never exercise on my own. So I teach, I teach spin class because I would never just do spin, you know, I never go, I would never do yoga. So I teach a yoga class or I would never take time to do my genealogical research even though I love it. So I volunteer each week to help other people with their genealogical research.
[00:39:27] And when no one's asking for my help, I do my own because I'm stuck there in the library. I'm being available for doing genealogical research.” There was a woman -- this is my all time favorite accountability strategy, because obligers have come up with all these brilliant ideas. One was a woman who wanted to get up early, was completely immune to any snooze alarm. She had tried them all and did not have a dog and so how could she get herself to wake up early? She was an obliger. She had to have outer accountability for this. So she created an embarrassing Facebook post and posted it to automatically post every morning unless she got up and deactivated it. So she had to get up or the Facebook post would go up. So that's a form of outer accountability.
[00:40:10] Some obligers are able to do very advanced kind of imaginative things like thinking about the future self. Well right now Jordan doesn't want to go for a run, but future Jordan's going to be so disappointed if now Jordan breaks the street. Yeah, you've been going 10 days in a row. Jordan tomorrow is going to be so disappointed if now if now Jordan doesn't do it or at the end of the year future Jordan's going to be so disappointed if I haven't made significant progress in learning Chinese, I really needed to do that for future Jordan. But obligers are very different. And what kind of outer accountability works with them? For some people paying money matters a lot. For some people, you know they want to show up to a group. Some are people are introverted. They don't want to go to a group because they don't want to be face to face with people.
[00:40:46] So they might use a group that meets, you know, in East Bay, like I have an app, the Better app where people can have start groups and have accountability groups and accountability partners, you know, but for some people face to face works much better. But then for some people, they need the technology, the technology side works better. There's a million ways to do it. Once you realize that is what you need and that is what obligers need.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:11] Does this ever get unhealthy? It almost seems like it could get there where every time you have to do something for yourself, you've got to construct these gymnastic equipment around how you're going to get it done it by essentially forcing yourself to go through these potentially uncomfortable situations that might, I don't know, it seems like it could be a burnout level thing. I mean, can obliger just kind of implode after a while and quit their job because they're like, “I've had it!”
Gretchen Rubin: [00:41:38] Well that's very interesting that you say that because there is a very, very prominent pattern of obliger rebellion. And that is when an obliger will meet, meet, meet, meet expectations, and then suddenly they snap and they're like, let's say will not do. And it can be kind of small and funny, like, “I'm just not going to answer your emails for two weeks.” Or it can be big like, “I'm going to divorce you. I'm going to end a 30 year friendship. I'm going to quit this job and go work for the competitor because you're dead to me. This is over. I have had it.” And obliger rebellion is really meant to protect obligers because it happens when obligers feel like exploited or taken advantage of or unheard or ignored or when just the burden of expectations becomes insupportable.
[00:42:20] And so it kind of blows up a situation. But it can be very destructive. It's not a controlled pushback. And so like as an upholder or questioner, we might say to an obliger, “Well, if you didn't want to do it, why did you say you would do it? Or if you didn't want to do it when they asked you, why did you volunteer like?” But to an obliger, that weight of that expectation seems very, very heavy. It's hard for them. And so you want to be very aware of one, if you're an obliger or if you're dealing with obligers, when that deep resentment and burnout is starting to build so that you can intervene to try to make a situation better so that they're not exploited or they're not feeling ignored. You know, like let's say I'm a manager and I'm like looking at it and I'm like, “Okay, why are two people doing all the extra shifts and eight people are doing no extra shifts?”
[00:43:07] Or I'm looking at my team and I'm like, “Some people are doing all the unpleasant work travel and some people haven't done any work travel for a year. Or like, why hasn't this valuable employee hasn't taken a vacation in 18 months?” Like, that's not sustainable. Like we shouldn't leave it to others to fix that. We should be looking for opportunities to intervene. Because you don't want, like a lot of times obligers are extraordinarily valuable employees because they're the rock of the world. They're the ones who are always going to help you out. You don't want to lose one of your most valuable employees to obliger rebellion because they've just been pushed for so long, so hard or things aren't fair that they just -- and it's very explosive. It is something where obligers will describe it as like a volcano exploding or a balloon bursting under pressure.
[00:43:51] It's an explosive thing and there can be quite serious fallout or reputational risk from it. But sometimes it's very beneficial. Sometimes it really works to help the obliger. It's meant to help the obliger. It's meant to protect the obliger, but sometimes it has negative consequences.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:07] Is it safe to say that obligers struggle with doing things maybe they need to do to develop themselves? Because if I'm working for other people all the time and fulfilling other people's expectations, maybe I'm not doing any personal development and go into the gym, networking or even just smaller things like, I can't delegate stuff at work. I can't, like you mentioned, the work travel thing, I would imagine obligers get taken advantage of quite a bit.
Gretchen Rubin: [00:44:29] Yeah, they do get taken advantage of. Well see, this is the thing about outer accountability, I think many obligers just kind of intuitively realize that they need outer accountability and so they put it in and the fact is it's very easy to get outer accountability.
[00:44:41] The world is really set up to provide outer accountability. You might be an obliger and not even know it because it's like, well, you wanted to exercise and you know, you only exercise if you sign up for class. So you've been going to the same class for 10 years and you work in an environment where you have a supervisor and deadlines and a team and accountability and benchmarks and reviews. So you got all the accountability you need at work and when you're at home you're thinking like, well, I need to do this for my family. And like, Oh, I want to read more. So I'm going to book group and Oh, you know, I want to garden more of it. So I'm part of this garden competition every year. And so I have to take care of my garden because you know, I don't want to let down, you know, everybody who's part of this community with me because they're all going to be coming through my garden and I want to show them like what I could do.
[00:45:21] You might never notice that you're an obliger because you just sort of seamlessly created forms of outer accountability so that you have the life that you want. The problem comes when an obliger does feel this sense of frustration, when they're like, “I want to exercise and I don't understand why I can't because I did exercise in high school. Why am I not doing it now?” But then when somebody says like, “Oh, what you needed is outer accountability.” Well then that's, that's okay. That's not hard, you know. But a lot of times obligers will say things or rebels or whoever is filling a conflict, will say, “Well, it must be that I lack willpower, right? I'm lazy, I don't have self control. There's something wrong with me.” Is this a thing that people with your tendency sometimes experience, there's many solutions for it.
[00:46:03] Let's figure out what the problem is. And then, you know, use the right medicine for this. It's just like, because what happens a lot of times is people just throw a bunch of spaghetti against the wall or people give them the advice that would work for them. You know, I can give you all the advice, but I mean, it's like any advice works for an upholder. Any strategy, any device, any system works for upholders, you know? So of course, you know, I'm going to feel like I can give you good advice, but if you're not my tendency, that advice might not work for you.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:32] So how do we work with then and communicate with obligers because it seems these are the people who will go, “Ah, working with Gretchen is just so nice and I give her something to do and she does it without complaint”, and then one day you implode and quit. I'm like, “What the hell happened?” So we know what to do if we're an obliger, but how do I communicate and work with other obligers once I've spotted their tendency, how do I make sure that I'm not just contributing to the problem?
Gretchen Rubin: [00:46:56] Well, I think that's an excellent question and what you do is you look out and you say like, are things fair? And sometimes of what obligers do is even an obliger who won't like speak up in themselves. Obligers can say like, “Well let's speak up for each other.” Like I might not march into my manager's office and say like, “This is like a bad situation”, but I would do it for you. And I would be like, “Hey, do you know what they're doing to Jordan, they're saying that Jordan has to be on the seventh committee. He's already in six committees that is not fair.” I'm going to stand up for you even if I wouldn't stand up for myself. So there's ways that once you know, that's going on. But I think it really does help to know that someone's an obliger.
[00:47:29] I had this experience recently because I'm an upholder and one of the things about upholders is we're sort of like, “Hey, I'm not your babysitter, do it your way. I take care of my business. You take care of your business. Like all I care is like everybody gets everything done like on time and perfectly executed.” Well, I was working with an obliger and I literally never occurred to me that I should not send work emails over the weekend. It just never occurred to me because my view was if you'd asked me, but I never even thought about it was well, I'm managing my workload in my way, which is I like to send emails whenever something occurs to me. But you can manage your workload as you see fit and you can answer emails over the weekend if that's how you like to manage your workload or you can wait until Monday morning.
[00:48:08] It's up to you. I don't care. I'm not expecting you to answer them, but I just want to get it off my plate. Wow. What I found out through some sort of security which was this obliger felt very pressured to answer my emails right away and felt resentful of the fact that she was being asked to work over the weekend. So what's the solution here? It's not for me to change my ways and it's not for her to change her ways. We both have perfectly legitimate views of this perfectly legitimate perspectives that make sense from where we sit. But now I use delay delivery and so if I'm sending her work emails over the weekend, I just set delayed delivery, which takes like one second. And so she gets like six emails from me Monday morning at 7:30 AM but it's like problem solved. I'm not sending, I am respecting the weekend for her.
[00:48:54] Once I realize that she was feeling the burden of expectation, but for me, I'm still managing my workload in the way that makes sense for me, which is like, just do it as fast as I can. Just do it as it comes up. So once you realize that this is what's going on. So with an obliger, you want to be very aware of like, am I imposing too much? Am I taking advantage? Because the thing is obligers feel like they're being taken advantage of and they 100% are. That's lowly they're being taken advantage of. So if you kind of have that feeling like, “Hmm, you know, am I going to this person again because this person is always the one who's nice and says yes?” Watch that. I mean, I remember talking to a woman, she has a question. She's married to an obliger husband and she said she realized that every weekend they were doing all the things that she wanted to get done.
[00:49:35] And she wisely realized that this was not a good situation, because you might think like, this is amazing. I loved being married to this guy. We just do everything I want all the time. You might take advantage of that. Not a good idea that’s how obliger rebellion starts. So what she said is every Friday they make a list. He makes a list of what he would like to get done. She makes a list of what she would like to get done. He has to make the list because she's expecting, they're both making their lists and then they make a point of over the weekend doing things from both people's lists. This is a way to make it fair. This is a way to make sure that everybody's desires get articulated and met. It's not a hard problem to solve. Once you realize that that's what's going on and that's why it's going on.
[00:50:16] Because you might say, “Well, if he wants to get something done, why does he need to say it? Like why does he keep doing all the things she wants to get done?” Well, he's not, you know, you could talk all about what people should do. The fact is what do they do? And he just wasn't doing that. So now she found a solution that works for both of them.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:32] Alright, so obliger obviously I feel like any obliger hearing this is like, “Oh my gosh, this is me”, and upholders probably thought, “Yeah, I'm kind of like that.” But I think, and this might be your experience, but certainly was for me when I tell people about this and about the book, The Four Tendencies, people who are obligers, they seem in many ways to be maybe the most unaware of their archetype. Is that, does that match your experience at all?
Gretchen Rubin: [00:50:57] Well, I think that a lot of obligers think that everybody's like that. They think everybody is like this and they don't understand why other people are not like that. Like I remember I was talking to a journalist and she said to me, “Why is it the busy parents like us can't take time for ourselves?” And I said, “Well, actually I have no trouble taking time for myself.” And she said, “Well, actually I don't either.” And I said, “Well then I question the premise of your argument. It's not that all busy parents have trouble taking time for themselves. Why do some busy parents have trouble taking time for themselves?” I would say she was a questioner. I'm an upholder. We don't have trouble taking time for ourselves but, but people sort of because obliger is a big group they send, it'd be like, well this is just like the human experience. Or like nobody can get anything done if they don't have accountability. No, that's not true. Some people don't need accountability. Rebels may find accountability actually counterproductive. But there's a lot of obligers running around. So it kind of looks like this is a universal truth of human nature. So I think obligers don't realize that it's their tendency because they think it's just sort of like universally true.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:51:58] Well, the interesting thing, I'm sitting here listening to this and as a producer I'm telling Jordan in the back channel, take notes, take notes. This is me. Learn how to deal with me and I'm happy, this is a therapy session. This is fantastic.
Gretchen Rubin: [00:52:13] Excellent. Excellent.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:52:15] So Jordan definitely be taking some notes on this one.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:17] Well, I took notes before the show. Yeah. And now you know, look, the speed with which Gretchen and I are talking right now it's not conducive to me typing while I'm trying to figure out what's going to happen next year. So why don't you take notes, obliger. Go ahead and take notes, Jason.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:52:32] I already have been. Yes, thank you very much.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:34] Good little obliger.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:52:35] That's me. That's me. I quit!
Gretchen Rubin: [00:52:39] There you go. Yeah. Don't push him. One of the most gratifying things is that I'll get an email for people of all the different tendencies saying like, “I couldn't, I was just staggered as I was reading and you were describing my life”, and I kept saying, I say that all the time. Or that's exactly what happened to me. You know, it's like these are very, these patterns are very, they're often, they're very predictable and they really do recur. And so I think for a lot of people it's just comforting to realize it's not just me. I thought just me experience, it's like obliger rebellion. A lot of times obligers are like, well I just thought this was like me kind of like being crazy. I didn't know this was a thing that other people experience or like questioners have analysis paralysis, which is when sometimes their desire for perfect information means they can't make a decision or move forward because they just want more and more and more research.
[00:53:24] Once you know that the thing and it has a name and this is a thing that questioners often fall kind of victim to, you're like, “Oh okay, well I'm feeling this. What's the solution for that?” It's like not that hard, but when you just feel like, “Ooh, I have this weird thing that happens to me sort of unsettling.” It's nice to know that, Oh well this is a thing that some people experience and here's the strategies that we use to deal with it and not surprising. Totally. You know, within the realm of what we would expect to see from somebody of your tendency. It's just very comforting to some people.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:53:54] So let's talk about questionnaires then. Analysis paralysis that comes from info collecting. So that's got to be one trait of the questioner, what else are we looking at?
Gretchen Rubin: [00:54:06] So yeah, analysis paralysis is something that some questioners experience. Interestingly, often they will experience analysis paralysis with smaller decisions rather than bigger decisions. Like, it's not like what careers should I follow, but more like, what kind of bike should I buy? Or like what, you know, where should I, you know, what hotels did we stay at? Like that's when you, it just sort of like locks in and it's like, I've got to do more and more information. Well, and I think if we touched on this earlier on in a conversation, which is sometimes questioners get into trouble because they're persistent questioning can make them seem disrespectful or undermining of other's authority because it's like, “Why are we using this software?” You know, if I'm a thin skin manager, I might feel very taken aback by that question. Whereas in fact, the question is just like, well, why are we? And so I think questioners do better when they learn how to phrase questions in a constructive way.
[00:54:51] You know, like the questioner said to me like, “Oh, I've learned, I always need to say things like, I'm really curious to know why corporate made this decision because I think if I understand their reasoning, I'm really going to be able to execute their vision much better.” You know what I mean? That just sounds much more like a team player. And also questioners need to remember that sometimes their questions can drain and overwhelm others like everybody else's kind of like, “You know what? Like we've talked about this long enough, our questions have been answered and yet you are just heap in asking questions.” I gave a talk once where somebody, a guy stood up and said, “Do you think you could tell the questioner that they're only allowed to ask three questions per conversation?” Because it's like, you know, clearly that was a cry for help.
[00:55:30] I have like somebody who's just, you know, question. question. Question. question, question. So, but you want to remember that with a questioner, they're great at following through once they understand why, but they have to be given those justifications in order to get with the program. So you need to do whatever it takes and you know, and you can realize like you might create situations where different people get different amounts of information. Like if you're creating a website, instead of, you might have the thing like -- For more information, or if you want to understand why we set it up this way, you know, click here. -- And so people can click through. They feel like they have this deep resources. Because if you're telling me to walk a mile a day, I'm like, why? Why every day? Why walk? You know? But you can tell me, “Oh, this is not an arbitrary thing that we're telling you to do.
[00:56:13] Here's all the research.” But I'm not going to, you know, daze everybody who's coming to my website with this information or like let's say you're giving a presentation, you might say, “Well here, I hope that I’ve given you a good sense of why corporate has decided that we're going to use a new software program. If you would like to return to your desk, you feel like you've heard enough, please feel free to return to your desk and if you would like to stay here and asked more questions, I am pleased to stay here for as long as you like.” So then the people who were like, okay fine, whatever can get up and go back to work. And the people who were like, wait a minute, I still have a lot of questions, you're still available to them. So you show to them. I have the justifications and the rationale that you need. I'm happy to answer your questions, but not everybody has to sit through that because they might start to feel overwhelmed or annoyed by that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:57] Gotcha. Okay. And I can identify with that and yes, I was that guy in law school. Well, hold on, I have 17 more things before we can finally leave the room. Okay. Everyone hates you. The story of my life.
Gretchen Rubin: [00:57:07] You know, and I'm sure you've experienced this, some environments really reward and praise the questioner drive toward efficiency and understanding and rationale. They really, it's rewarded. It's praised. Not all though. You know, if you're in a place where it's really like get with the program, it's all about what corporate says. It's all about executing someone else's vision that might not work very well for questioners. So you want to be aware of that as a questioner make sure you're getting into the right place for you where all your strengths are rewarded instead of being seen as limitations because they are tremendous strengths, but not everybody, but not in all places and to all audiences.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:43] Well, as it turns out, being a questioner was a good kind of set of character traits for me as an interviewer. Go figure. I want to know everything and now I have you trapped on this call and you're going to answer all my questions.
Gretchen Rubin: [00:57:56] Yes, yes. Yes, exactly. See, there you go. So you got yourself into a place where it was satisfying to you in this kind of like deep way. Yeah. Great.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:04] Yeah. Especially now that I'm now, I hold all the cards. If you leave, it's just rude. Gretchen, you are stuck answering all of my questions. This is my dream job.
Gretchen Rubin: [00:58:11] Ahhh, Oh, he's set it up perfectly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:16] That's right. This is a trap. But let's talk about rebels before I do finally let everyone go from this meeting where everyone's decided this. This guy -- who hired this guy? Let's talk about rebels because yes, we can all sort of point at teenagers and go, “Yeah, yeah, there's these are rebels or we've all met a rebel”, and as adults, I don't know what I've read about this, I thought, “Oh, well I know some rebels that are young, but once rebels grow into adults, they kind of have to hide it or it just looks immature in a way. And I think that rejecting external imposition can -- look fine. It's admirable in some cases we need rebellious thinkers, rebellious doers. But it's got to catch up to you at some point. It's got to be hard for rebels to do things they actually have to do. So it seems like almost self-destructive tendency and we all know that person that's like, “Yeah, I quit that job because my boss was a jerk.”
[00:59:08] And you're thinking, “Okay, this is the fifth job you've done that. Either you're terrible at picking bosses and companies to work for, or maybe, I don’t know, you just don't want to do what people are assigning you to do.” And so it seems like in a way, being a rebel, it's not freedom, it's a lack of compliance. And so you're kind of still responding to peer pressure. You're just doing the opposite instead of being an obliger, you're just kind of like, “Well, I'm not going to do that because you want me to.” So in a way, it doesn't seem that freeing because at first blush it's like, “Oh cool, rebel.” And then it's like, “Actually no, this is maybe not the best thing for you.”
Gretchen Rubin: [00:59:47] Well that's a very interesting point and a very astute point. And I would say it's interesting. Some rebels love being rebels and are like rebels or the one rebel called everybody else muggles which I thought was very funny. But then many rebels are very frustrated by it for exactly the reason that you say, like they keep getting into trouble because they'll just resist. They can't make themselves, they want to do something but the minute they try to get themselves to do something, they pushed back even against themselves, they do feel a very high level of frustration. So I think it's all, it's also very, very helpful for rebels to understand like where this is coming from because then they can understand how to harness the power of the tendency in order to get themselves where they want. For instance, you gave a great example, very common kind of conflict or frustration that a rebel would feel, which is like, you're telling me to do something so I won't do it.
[01:00:35] So like, let's say, you're a rebel and you're smoking and the doctor is telling you, “Hey Jordan, you got to give up smoking”, and your wife is saying, “Hey, Jordan you got to give up smoking”, and your kids are like, “Hey Jordan, you got to give up smoking”, and everybody around you like, you know, they're like you to give up smoking.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:00:48] And I’m like, tell my kids, “Why are you calling me Jordan instead of dad? This is unhealthy.
Gretchen Rubin: [01:00:53] Yeah, right? That's right. That's right. That's right. Yeah. You cheeky monkeys. No, but so it's like, “I'm free. I'm not going to follow you orders. You're not the boss of me. I could do whatever I want, I'm free. Smoke it away. There's nothing you can do to control me.” Is that freedom? So for what a rebel could do is say like, “Well that's one kind of freedom, but maybe the freedom I want is I want to be free from nicotine.
[01:01:15] I wouldn't want to be chained with cigarettes. I don't want to be controlled by the big tobacco companies that are just taking my money and pouring it into their pockets. I'm not going to be controlled by their packaging and their marketing. They can’t tell me what to do. Nobody can tell me where to go in an airport. Nobody could tell me that I can't go to this restaurant. Nobody can make me stand outside on a cold winter's day, 250 feet from an entrance. I'm in control. I am not going to be thin.” That's freedom too. It's the same thing, but you have to remember that the rebel is always going to choose to be free. They're going to choose. They get to make a choice, and so you have to be very careful in how that sprain, because both of these are kinds of freedom both, and by the way, rebels, the minute that they decided to do it, they can do it because that's what they want.
[01:02:00] They will often just quit or they'll quit in some kind of unusual way. They won't follow kind of the classic like, “Oh, this is the conventional wisdom about the right way to quit.” They'll be like, “No, I'm going to quit my own way.” And they also tend to love a challenge. “I'll show you, think an old guy like me can't quit? I'll show you.” Things like that. And so once you understand the rebel tendency, you understand how to think about things in a way that gets you where you want to go. And you also as a rebel can let go of things that don't work for you that work well for other people. For instance, everybody might say to you, “Hey, you know, if you want to exercise, what you really need to do is sign up for class, put it on your calendar just like, 10 o'clock, Saturday morning, you're going to go”, that's terrible advice for a rebel.
[01:02:41] They hate signing up for things in advance. They won't go. That's not a good idea for them. For them it's more like, “Oh hey, I always think of you as being like kind of a vital athletic person. Like I think of you as being somebody who like loves to go outside, run around, play games, play sports, like workout.” “Yeah. That is the kind of person I am. I do like to run outside. I do like to feel strong and healthy. I do like to get to a gym and work out. Like today I'm going to do the bike. Today I'm going to do weights, today I'm going to do cardio, I'm going to do whatever I'm in the mood for like, and I'm going to do it in the middle of the workday when I'm supposed to be working. That's what I'm going to go to the gym.”
[01:03:12] That's the rebel way or to make a to do list. “Oh my God.” Most rebels can't use to do lists. It doesn't work for them. They don't like to see a list. The minute you tell them what they should do, they don't want to do it. So there's ways around that. Rebels use could do lists. Rebels use my could list. I heard of a rebel who would write passed down on a piece of paper and put them all in a jar. And then whenever she felt like getting something done, she would just pick a slip of paper out of the jar and do whatever was there. It kind of gate made it into a game for her. There's a million ways. Again, once you understand the spirit of resistance that is so such an issue for rebels, then you can work around it, you can take it into account, but when you're just trying to butt up against the rebel spirit of resistance, you know, you can't make somebody do some, it's very, very, very rare that you can really make somebody do something. You know, with a rebel, it has to be what they choose.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:04:08] Exactly. So the ability for the rebel, the ability to choose is so important that they might even make a choice that's against their own interest, just to prove to themselves or you that they had a choice in the first place. So they might even reject something that's good for them for the sake of rejection.
Gretchen Rubin: [01:04:23] Oh, 100%. They might reject something that they wanted to like something that they really want to do. I mean, no, it's a big thing and you've got to know this when you're dealing with a rebel or if you’re a rebel yourself. And in fact, one rebel said to me, “I rebel even against my rebel tendency.” And I say to myself, “Even though people want me to do this, I am going to do it because that's what I want. Even though I want to resist it, to show them that I can.” I mean it is, you really, really have to get into this place of deep paradox in the rebel tendency. So one of the things that works for rebels, either if you are rebel or you're dealing with a rebel is identity. So this is like I'm an athlete or you know, I'm a responsible parent and so I can do the things that might not come easily to me because it's important to me to project this identity into the world.
[01:05:09] I'm a responsive boss and so I am going to go to the weekly staff meeting even though I think I don't, I hate to go like show up every Wednesday at 10:00 AM because I want to show the people I work with that I'm listening to them. It's important to me to be that kind of boss. And the other thing you can do with rebel is information, consequences, choice. You give them the information they need, you tell them the consequences of their action or inaction. And then you let them choose. So you could say something like, “You know what? You know what, Jordan, I don't know if you know, but we had this mandatory weekly meeting every Wednesday at 10:00 AM and you know what we do at the meeting? We decide who is going to do what projects that are coming up for the next several weeks and the people who are in the meeting, well we take all the good projects, all the interesting projects, and we leave the dregs for the people who skipped the meeting.” So you know, this meeting's at 10 o'clock on Wednesday mornings.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:52] Oh man, crap! It's mandatory. But I don't want to go, but I also want to be able to choose which project. So maybe I'll go to take the good project.
Gretchen Rubin: [01:06:02] So it's information, consequences, choice -- go or not -- your choice. What is the consequence of not going? Boring work. It's up to you. But it's like saying you have to go, we're waiting for you. You're holding everybody up. You know you're going to get penalized. I mean, none of that works for a rebel. It's much more effective to give them this information consequences. And as a result, and back to your point, the point that they might resist something, it's even good for them or that they want. Often if a rebel is not doing something that you want them to do or that you think that they should want to do, it might be because you're nudging them.
[01:06:34] You're reminding them, you're giving them little helpful hints. Don't do anything. The thing with the rebel is, if you don't know what to do, do nothing. That is much by far the safer bet. Say nothing. Like you know, I have a podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin, and we had two people who called in asking about, well, one had a rebel sweetheart who hadn't looked for work in the new city where he was going to move and one had a rebel husband who'd been laid off and wasn't looking for work. One woman was a questioner, one was an obliger. And so the question is, what do you do to help these rebels look for work? How can you support them? How can you help them? And what is the answer? What should you do for these rebels?
Jordan Harbinger: [01:07:12] Yeah. It sounds freaking exhausting to deal with somebody like this.
Gretchen Rubin: [01:07:16] No, but you should do nothing because the more you, you know, make a spreadsheet of like what you should do when or you make it help a list of phone numbers or you'd say, “Hey, wouldn’t today be a great day to call that place?” The more they’ll going to be like, “No, you're not the boss of me. I'll do it in my own way, in my own time.” These guys know they need a job. This is not a secret, but the more you remind and so you know, or like I've heard, I have a lot of child readers and child listeners for some reason, which I love and several rebels have specifically mentioned the example of making the bed. There'll be like, “I was making my bed because I like having my bedmate. I like to be in a room with a made bed, but I hear my parents yelling, ‘Hey, don't forget to make your bed.’
[01:07:54] And I will pause back the covers back onto the floor because I was going to do it because I wanted to, but I'm not going to do it because you told me to.” So you got to be very careful with the rebel that you don't ignite that spirit of resistance because if they're not doing something, it might be because you keep reminding them to do it or suggesting that they do it or encouraging them to do it or praising them for doing it. You got to be very careful with praise. I mean something, even something like, “Oh my gosh, you've got to read this book, it's great.” “I'm not going to read that book.”
Jordan Harbinger: [01:08:19] Oh, I bought it. Now I've got to return it. Thanks a lot.
Gretchen Rubin: [01:08:28] I can't tell you how many rebels have told me that they refuse to read Harry Potter because everybody told them how good it was.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:08:29] I'm like, that sounds like me too, but it's subconscious and then I realized it's dumb and I do it, but a rebel's like, “Nope, I'm consciously going to be like F that book. Not doing it.”
Gretchen Rubin: [01:08:37] Well, it's interesting because you know how we were talking before about the overlapping kinds, like which way do you tip? So some rebels tip to questioner and that they both resist outer expectations and some rebels tip to obliger and that they both resist inner expectations. Rebels who tip to questioners are much more like, “I want to do what I want to do. I want you to do what you want to do. I'm not going to do what you tell me to do. I've just got my own thing going.” And it doesn't bother them as much. Like that spirit of resistance, like don't read --
[01:09:06] They'll be like, “Yeah, I kind of resist Harry Potter. But yeah, but I get that. I like that kind of thing, so I'm going to read it even though everybody tells me to do it.” But then rebels who tip to obliger very much have that feeling of resentment and being pushed around. They resist. They're the ones that like, “Oh, I really want to, I really do want to go, I really do want to go to this concert. I love that band. But now that you're telling me that I have to go because you already bought me a ticket. Now I'm not going to go because you can't tell me what to do.” Even though I want to go and even though I like hanging out with my friends, this is the thing that rebels often say, they don't like being told where to go.
[01:09:39] Even to see people that they really like. They're like, “I love hanging out with my friends, but I hate it when they tell me like, we're meeting at this restaurant at this time.” Oh, it's a hard thing to manage. You have to understand rebel or if you're dealing with a rebel, how to manage that spirit of resistance because then everything becomes much easier.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:09:58] Yeah. It's kind of like, as Jason says, you're buying this book, you're buying the book, The Four Tendencies, and the store clerk says, “Have a great day.” And the rebel says, “Don't tell me, don't tell me what to do.”
Gretchen Rubin: [01:10:12] Don't tell me what kind of day I'm going to have. Yeah. Something like, thank you for not smoking. Oh my gosh, that makes rebels crazy.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:10:18] Yes, exactly right. So if you're an upholder, you should go buy The Four Tendencies. If you're a questioner, you should go by The Four Tendencies because you'll learn a lot about yourselves and others. If you're an obliger, then everybody else really wants you to read this. You'll be a better person for having done it. And if you're a rebel, definitely do not buy the book, The Four Tendencies, because it's not [inaudible][01:10:40]. Nevermind. Nevermind. Just do whatever the hell you want.
Gretchen Rubin: [01:10:45] Exactly. There you go.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:10:47] Gretchen, thank you very much. This is super informative. I love archetypes. I got to say I'm a just have a soft spot for anything that helps me read people better, especially if that person is myself. So nailed on.
Gretchen Rubin: [01:10:59] Excellent. Well, I'm so glad to hear that you found it illuminating.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:11:03] Oh, that's a good word. I'm going to use that another time illuminating. Jason, write that down. Obliger.
Jason DeFillippo: [01:11:09] Okay. Yes sir. I'm on it. I quit.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:11:15] Yeah, Jason quit. Oh, well yeah. Dammit. This is a lot of fun.
Gretchen Rubin: [01:11:22] This was tons of fun. Thanks so much. It's so fun to talk to you.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:11:25] Interesting show. Jason, were you surprised that your category or did you kind of always know that you were in there?
Jason DeFillippo: [01:11:30] I was very surprised, actually. I thought I was more of a rebel, but as she was describing the obliger, it all just clicked. I'm like, yep, I overgive. And I always hit that point where I feel like I'm taken advantage of and then I just burn the fields. So now we know how to intercept that in the future. And I can look at myself and say, “Hey, you're getting to that point. Back off a bit and just, you know, take care of yourself before you take care of others.”
Jordan Harbinger: [01:11:55] Yeah. Rebel obliger, Jason DeFillippo. Rebel obliger, that's like a nerdy supervillain name. If I've ever heard one.
Jason DeFillippo: [01:12:02] I was going to say that it doesn't really sound like my stripper name.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:12:07] Rebel obliger? No, that’s a terrible stripper name. It’s a terrible stripper name. You're the most broke stripper anywhere in America with that name. Great big thank you to Gretchen Rubin. The book title is The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People's Lives Better, too). Of course, that will be linked up in the show notes along with her Twitter. Don't forget to thank Gretchen on Twitter. That'll all be linked in the show notes at JordanHarbinger.com/podcast. Tweet at me your number one takeaway here from Gretchen. I'm @JordanHarbinger on Twitter and Instagram, and don't forget we have worksheets for today's episode, so you can make sure you understand all the practicals and key takeaways here from Gretchen Rubin, that link,
[01:12:49] as always in the show notes at JordanHarbinger.com/podcast. This episode was produced and edited by Jason DeFillippo. Show notes are by Robert Fogarty, booking back-office and last minute miracles by Jen Harbinger. And I'm your host, Jordan Harbinger. Subscribe in iTunes. If you don't know how to do that, well subscribe anyway for that matter, JordanHarbinger.com/subscribe. We'll show you pretty much everywhere. Throw us an iTunes review and a recommendation online. Share the show with those you love, even those you don't. And we've got a lot more like this in the pipeline. We're excited to bring it to you. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show so you can live what you listen and we'll see you next time.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.