Two questions:

1) If you tell yourself that you’re going to exercise four days a week at 7am… will you?

2) If a manager asks you to email something by Friday at 5pm… will it definitely be in their inbox by then?

I wrote a mini-series about Gretchen Rubin’s “The Four Tendencies” in 2018.

I’ve explained the framework a couple of times lately:

>> A client’s been wanting to make progress on big-picture work projects. He was frustrated with himself for not being more productive…

>> A friend and his wife annoy each other with how they approach the chores. He was starting to shrug off doing them completely…

The Four Tendencies looks at how people respond to expectations that:

  • they set for themselves (inner)
  • others set for them (outer)

UPHOLDERS respond to both inner and outer expectations.

—> If an Upholder wants to go to the gym before work, chances are they’ll get up and go.

—> Similarly, if an Upholder’s manager asks for an assignment by a certain time, it’ll be in their inbox with bells on.

OBLIGERS respond to outer expectations (but struggle with inner ones).

—> Even if an Obliger wants to exercise, they might never put their sneakers on… unless they’ve got a trainer or workout buddy (like I wrote about in my last note).

—> However, they’ll dutifully send that work by end-of-day Friday.

QUESTIONERS meet inner expectations (but have a harder time with outer ones).

—> If a Questioner wants to work out, a Questioner probably will.

—> “But why Friday at 5? Why not Monday morning?”

REBELS struggle with both inner and outer expectations.

—> A Rebel might not exercise.

—> Or complete the assignment.

Why does any of that matter?

You’ll have more success by working with your tendency than wishing you were different.

>> Whether or not you make resolutions, you can accomplish more of what would be helpful to you next year.

>> When you understand why others don’t always do what they say they will, you might be less frustrated and better able to work with them.

We’ll look at each tendency more closely in the next few posts.

Which one do you initially relate to? Comment below and let me know!



Sheila Devi is an Executive Life Coach.

She focuses on deadline-driven, high-pressure careers (like law and accounting).

Individuals: Sheila helps private clients get perspective on professional/personal challenges so they have more time to focus on their best work and other priorities, such as family and health.

Firms/Corporations: Sheila teaches EQ (in a way your team has never heard) to help them navigate working with stressed clients/colleagues, avoid burnout, and rediscover satisfaction and engagement.

Interested in one-on-one coaching or having Sheila connect with you company? –> Simply email

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