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KPBS Midday Edition

Gretchen Rubin's New Book: Knowing Your Personality Profile Can Help You Improve Your Life

The cover of "The Four Tendencies" by Gretchen Rubin.
Penguin Random House
The cover of "The Four Tendencies" by Gretchen Rubin.

In her latest book, author Gretchen Rubin identifies four personality profiles. She says that by knowing which profile you belong to you can better harness your strengths and combat your weaknesses.

Rubin will discuss "The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How To Make Your Life Better (And Other People's Lives Better, Too)" at events in Rancho Santa Fe and San Diego on Wednesday.

The four personality profiles are determined by how people respond to both outer and inner expectations.

Rubin joins Midday Edition on Monday to discuss the four personality profiles.

Gretchen Rubin's New Book: Knowing Your Personality Profile Can Help You Improve Your Life
Gretchen Rubin's New Book: Knowing Your Personality Profile Can Help You Improve Your Life GUEST:Gretchen Rubin, author, "The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How To Make Your Life Better (And Other People's Lives Better, Too)"

This is KPBS Midday addition I am Maureen Cavanaugh, forming habits to make you happier is one way to construct a better life and that is the central message of the popular books and podcast by Roger Gretchen Rubin but since people are different they must form habits differently based on certain recurring personality tendencies, that is the point of his new book which asks readers to take a quiz to find out which tendency they have. The book is called the four tendencies. The indisputable personality profiles that reveal how to make your life better and other people's lives better as well, Rich and Ruben spoke to producer Michael Lipkin about the book. This is not the first time you thought about these tendencies to tell me about your progression from your book the happiness project to this book. One of the things that has struck me since I first started thinking about happiness is this idea that people are different. We have this desire to come up with the seven key things that will help make you healthier, more productive and more creative, the fact is it depends on what kind of person you are. I happiness project will it different from yours and the kind of things that would help me form better habits are not necessarily the same things that would work for you to form better habits. I've been counseling trying to figure out how are people like it how are people different and that is what led me to this four tendencies framework which is a very deep explanation for some very big patterns you see in how people can and cannot take action. Could you quickly sum up the four tendencies? Upholder, question her, oblige her and rebel and it has to do with how you respond expectations and it sounds very dry but it turns out to be very juicy. So we have outer expectations like work deadline and then enter for work deadline, questioners question expectations and they will do it if they think it makes sense so they resist anything arbitrary, inefficient or irrational. They will do something if it meets their own inner standard. And then oblige yours readily meet outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations, like a friend of mine who never missed track practice when she was on the track team but now that she's trying to go running on her own she struggles. Finally rebels, they resist all expectations, outer and inner like, they want to do what they want to do in their own way and their own time and if you ask or tell them to do something they are likely to resist. Typically they don't even want to tell themselves what to do. So these are the four tendencies. Part of this book took shape after asked people about their New Year's resolutions and how they responded to tell me more. I talk about happiness all the time and I would ask people what about your resolutions? Some people love New Year's resolutions or they make resolutions all the time and some people would say well I would make a resolution went made sense but I would not do it on January 1 because January 1 is an arbitrary date. And that really struck me because arbitrary part of January 1 and never bothered me. Some people said I have given up making New Year's resolutions, I make so many and I always let myself down and I never can make time for myself. And a certain number of people reacted with horror like why would I make a resolution like that and I do not want to bind myself in advance or commit. Who knows how I will feel in a week or month. This started to show me that people are coming from very different places and they have very different perspectives on outer and inner expectations. Once you identify this and you know how someone is responding then you can communicate with them much more effectively or if you're doing with yourself you can fill out how to push her own buttons to bring around a situation so you meet your own aims. I took the quiz and apparently I am and oblige her and how does that knowing that help me? It is like why am I not running? I'm a doctor and my patients are not taking my blood pressure medicine and so what can I do to change that? Once you know the tendencies you canal know how to set it up to make it more likely that someone will succeed. If you are in oblige or a work a lot on your inner motivation that will not help you run. If you are a questioner, listen these are doctor's orders you have to take your medication, that is all there is to it, that will not be effective with a questioner. These tendencies show us how to figure out what is not working, why something is working and why something else is not because of how people are responding through the tendencies. You write that these are hardwired into us and they are not the result of birth order, parenting style, religious upbringing, gender, not tied to extroverts or introverts, we bring these tendencies into the world with us. The moment we are born nothing that happens to us can affect how we deal with these kinds of expectations? It is genetic? I am a big believer in the genetic roots of personality and of course your circumstances have a big influence on how these things come out like if you're a questioner questioning everything you will not let it come out too much if you're born in North Korea and if you're in Silicon Valley it may work for you but in other circumstances it may not. It is not that circumstances, your upbringing or what happens to you does not influence how it emerges. But just like with many things in our personality and our nature, we bring them into the world with us. With time and expense we can learn how to harness the strength of our tendency to offset the weaknesses and limitations of our tendency. >> It is helpful to know other people's tendencies first off without getting them to take the quiz so how can we find that out and why would knowing others tendencies be helpful for us? Well once you know the four tendencies you start seeing them everywhere and it is not subtle, you see them in movies and TV, you don't need an advanced degree to pick it up, and I hear it over and over from people say I immediately knew who the people on my team where. As soon as people start talking about things being arbitrary that is a big sign is a questioner and once someone said they cannot meet their commitments to themselves the way they meet commitments to another person that is the sign of and oblige her. In the book I talk about how you can tell without having someone take a quiz and how you can figure out what someone's perspective is. One of the things is you cannot look at someone's behavior another tendency but their reasons. If I am a teacher in a given assignment with two children refusing to do the assignment one might be a questioner who is saying this is an inefficient stupid waste of my time, I will not do it and the other is you are not the boss of me and you cannot tell me what to do and I will not do this. One is a questioner and one is a rebel, or behaving in the same way but to do with their behavior I would approach it in a different way in order to resolve the issue. What kind of feedback have you gotten as a result of individuals knowing? It is super thrilling because part of it people learn how to manage themselves and for lot of people it is a huge revelation, these patterns in their behavior and why at certain times he could do something easily and other times they could not and how you explain it. Certain problems or conflict that emerged over their their lives like why does everyone say I am rigid, I don't feel that way and what do they said don't ask enough questions? Also people dealing with others and try and help others bring about changes. I've heard from tons of people in the healthcare profession been trying to figure out ways to get people to help take her medication or exercise or other kinds of positive health changes, teachers, professors, people managing teams or working with groups or maybe people are from different tendencies and that can be a strength or can be something that has to be managed. Are a lot of ways that it comes up that people have found it to be helpful. I've been speaking with Gretchen Rubin, author of the four tendencies, it reveals how to make your life better and other people's lives better as well, thank you. Thank you.