Book review: The Four Tendencies

Book title:

'The Four Tendencies'


Gretchen Rubin

About the Author:

Gretchen Rubin is a significant writer on human nature. She has a couple of best sellers behind her (including The Happiness Project and Better Than Before) and it’s no wonder they’re so popular – she writes in a really relatable way and backs it all up with compelling research. It’s her mission to help her readers become happier, healthier, more productive and more creative. It’s no wonder I have been drawn to her books!

Why I chose this book:

  • It’s about why we do and don’t take action, our relationships with internal and external expectations. This is something I can’t learn enough about as a life coach!

  • I find it hard to resist a personality profile… especially when it includes a quiz!

  • I’m attracted to personal development theories based on compelling research –Gretchen Ruben has had over 630,000 people complete her online quiz and provide date for her analysis

  • Learning something to help people better understand themselves and create the life they want will attract me to a book every time

  • I had previously read Gretchen Rubin’s book ‘The Happiness Project’ and enjoyed that so I thought, what the heck – let’s give her another razz!

Am I glad I chose to read this book?


  • A million times YES!!

  • This book has changed my life, improved my marriage, helped me better understand myself and has already helped me to better assist my clients in achieving the results they want to see in their lives.

How challenging was this book to read?

  • This was a really easy read (for a personal development book).

  • Gretchen Rubin writes quite conversationally and shares plenty of examples in the words of those who have responded to the four tendencies research. She’s also very open and shares a lot of her own experiences too which makes it much easier to connect to and absorb.

The key messages of this book:

  • There are four primary tendencies that each have unique and compelling responses to external and internal expectations.

  • When you understand your tendency better, it’s ,uch easier to set yourself up for success and support those around you too.

  • The four tendencies include The Rebel (aka - My husband… life makes so much more sense now knowing this!), The Upholder, The Obliger and the Questioner (Me!).

How this book impacted me as an individual:

Learning that I’m a ‘questioner’ has added a new framework of understanding to the things I already knew about myself. In all honesty it has probably been more useful learning about others than it was to learn about myself because I’m already quite self-aware. But in saying that, it’s nice to feel known and understood when you read a personality profile like this.

The greatest personal benefit came from my husband (a rebel) and I both learning about our tendencies and being able to explore what this means for us as a couple, why we do certain things and respond to each other’s expectations in certain ways. For a super aware couple I can even say that we absolutely understand each other better after reading this book. It’s allowed us to be more patient with each other, laugh at ourselves more easily and to better support each other in the ways we each uniquely need it.

How this book impacted me as a Life Coach:

This framework is an incredibly effective tool to help my clients boost their self-awareness around why they do and don’t take action.

Applying the knowledge in this book will allow me to help clients develop unique ways of achieving their goals based on their tendency. This has already lead to some amazing outcomes for my clients! I’ve had clients sigh a breath of relief after better understanding their Obliger Rebellion in the past (aka melting down when the final straw breaks the camel’s back) and strategizing to ensure it doesn’t get to that point in the future.

Who would benefit from reading this book?

The person who wants to achieve something but keeps hitting road blocks that either they invent or that they feel others put on them. This book is your ticket to self-awareness and strategic outcomes.

Where can you go to do the quiz?

Head here to Gretchen Rubin's website. Have fun expanding your self-awareness and beginning the journey of being able to intentionally set yourself up for success.

Ciao, Steph

p.s. I hope you found this blog helpful on your personal success journey. If you have any questions or comments on the blog or if you want to learn how Personal Success Coaching can help you then I’d love to hear from you!

Author: Steph Edmunds

Certified Professional Life Coach

Steph Edmunds is SESC's incredibly passionate, well experienced Certified Professional Life Coach based in Launceston, Tasmania - coaching clients across Australia and the world. You can contact Steph directly to make coaching inquiries, sign-up for a dose of Monthly Motivation direct to your inbox or Follow SESC on Facebook or Instagram.