This is how Gretchen explains it:
In a nutshell:
I recently gave a talk at LinkedIn about the Rubin Character Index, so if you’d like to see me discuss each category in a video, you can watch: for Upholders, watch here;Questioners, here; Rebels, here, and Obligers, here. From my observation, I can say with confidence that Rebel is the smallest category, then Upholder–this was a shock to me. I didn’t realize how few people are Upholders. . Most people are Questioners or Obligers.
Obligers are the folks who are the most likely to say they wish they were in a different category. They say things like, “I wish I weren’t a people-pleaser” or “I wish I could take time for myself.”
Do you find yourself within this framework? If so, does it help you understand how to manage yourself better? Figuring out the Tendencies helped me understand myself, and it has also made it much easier for me to understand other people’s perspectives. Fact is, most people don’t see things the way we Upholders do.
As I have read about the four tendencies, I've been able to understand myself better. It is so rewarding and satisfying to understand why you do what you do. I'm an upholder. I follow rules, I cross the crosswalk only when the green hand is up, I do what people ask me to do, but I can also set and achieve goals I've made for myself.
Now I realize why some people act the way they do. The light bulb comes on and I inwardly say, "Ah ha! So that's why you feel that way and do those things."
It's really important to know what tendency your husband and children are. It makes life so much more peaceful. When you know that a child is a rebel, you will want to interact differently with him than your child who is an obliger.
A listener wrote to Gretchen and said that now she understood her preschooler was a "rebel", she was learning how to communicate differently with her, and her daughter's behavior had improved tremendously. Here's what she wrote:
Thank you SO much for addressing my question about my Rebel preschool daughter in episode 120 on the podcast!
I wanted to send a quick update to let you know how much your advice has helped. I really have tried to embrace the idea that I CAN’T make her do anything. I can’t! She knows it, I know it, and it’s changed a lot of how I talk to her about things. I make such an effort to make everything her choice. She can do it if she wants to, and if she doesn’t well then here’s what will happen. Very matter of fact, very calm, not punitive, just the facts.
Here’s an example of how I’ve changed my language. She was looking at books on the couch and my parents were about to arrive for dinner. She had to wash up for dinner and I thought she should get it over with now, before the get here, to not miss the fun hellos. If I were speaking to my older daughter (tendency TBD but definitely not rebel) I would have said:
“You need wash up before dinner. Please go do it now so you won’t have to do it when Nanny and Poppy are here.”
I now know I would NEVER say that to the rebel. NEED to do something! HA! She would say. I don’t NEED to do anything. I really thought for a minute and picked my words carefully.
“I’m going to ask you to wash up before dinner. Nanny and Poppy will be here soon. You can choose. You can go now and then you won’t have to do it when they’re here, or you can do it right before dinner, but then you’ll have to leave them to do it. Whatever you choose is fine with me. It’s your choice.” (I did in fact say choice that many times)
A minute after I left her I heard her little footsteps walking over to the sink. She was done right before they walked in the door and was THRILLED that she could say hello and chat and walk right over to the table.
I’ve also appealed to her sense of identity. She was hyper when we were visiting my frail old grandparents and I was truly afraid she was going knock one of them over. Telling her she HAS to stop running and calm down would have failed. I told her Grammie just got out of the hospital b/c she fell and she’s not sturdy on her feet yet and she needs her protectors. She needs the kids to be careful around her and protect her and make sure she doesn’t fall again. Success! Or when she was sharing a room with her little cousin on vacation. Instead of you HAVE to be quite while he’s falling asleep I said, he’s younger than you and he’s so tired and needs to sleep. Will you be his helper? Will you help him go to sleep by ignoring him and letting him rest? She jumped at the chance.
Overall I would say part of the success has come from me changing my language and how I talk to her, but part of the success has also come from me changing my perspective and fully embracing that I can’t make her do things.
As an Upholder it’s also been freeing to let her help me break the rules a little. Like so what if we’re late? It was a self-imposed timetable, no one is counting on us. I’ve embraced her rebel-ness and this has allowed me see things differently. You’re so right. We’re free-er than we think!!!
Thank you so, so much.
Brilliant strategy. I tried it with one of my "rebel" grandchildren and it works! Of course, I think letting our children make choices, and giving them the right to do it, is good parenting with any type of child.
Knowing about the four tendencies helps me in many aspects of my life when dealing with people. I'm anxious to apply it to my piano students. If I can help classify them into one of the tendencies, I think I can help them with their practicing. An obliger is going to need outer controls such as charts or rewards to get him to practice. A questioner needs to understand the importance of practicing, and the rebel will need to be in control of when during the day he/she chooses to practice.
Food for thought, right?
Thanks for reading