A few days ago, I found myself in a conversation about how there seems to be a one size fits all concept in the corporate world. The reason we got into the topic was because we were talking about remote work and whether we were in favor of it. Very quickly we concluded that it works for some people and it doesn’t for others. But what was maybe more important was the observation that we form opinions based on our own perspective. 

Somehow we seem to have lost (or maybe we never had it?) the insight that we are all different. And that different things work for different people. Generalization is seldom a helpful thinking path. It’s not in romantic relationships, it’s not in education and it’s not in the world of business either. 

Getting a grip on people’s behaviour 

Which made me wonder whether there are any tools out there to help us get a handle on the wide variety that is the human race and it’s equally diverse individual behaviour. 

Now I want to get this out of the way first: I’m not a fan of Box Thinking. 

It somehow implies the idea that we all fit into a mold and that in essence we are all highly predictable human beings, moving around in a highly predictable world. We all know neither are true. 

Taking it all with a pinch of salt

But here’s the thing: How else do you cope in utter chaos other than try to create some order? 

As much as I dislike oversimplification – human behaviour is never as easy or straightforward as falling into one of four or five categories-  It also offers some helpful insight why some things work for certain people and not for others.  Multiple Box Thinking introduces the concept that we are not one and the same. And that’s both interesting and helpful. 

Bottom line? I think looking at 4 categories is better than assuming that we are all wired the same way. As long as we take any Box Thinking with a pinch of salt, we might be actually on to something. 

4 Behavioral Tendencies or Styles

There are quite a few publications out there that discuss different normal behavioral categories. Some call them Styles (DiSC), others call them Tendencies. Although they approach things differently, what’s fascinating is that  when you get to the descriptions of the different categories, they largely correlate with each other. They’re both worth exploring although the DiSC Behavioral Styles have been around a bit longer.

According to Gretchen Rubin -the new kid on the block- people display one of 4 Behavioral Tendencies. These categories depend on how people handle inner expectations (like a New Year’s resolution) and outer expectations (like a work deadline) as opposed to DiSCs Inner Motor vs Outer Motor.

The way people meet or struggle with inner and/or outer expectations makes them fall into the Box of …

How is this helpful? 

The value of the tendencies is that once you have figured out which predominant box you live in, it’s quite easy to overcome the issues and stumbling blocks that have prevented you from unquestionable success in the past. 

So knowing you tendency, how do you remove obstacles that have held you back in the past and gain self-mastery?  And how do you approach the four tendencies differently as a colleague or manager? 

On a final note

Clearly, there is a lot more to be said on the topic. There are some quizzes out there that will help you determine your  Style and/or Tendency. 

Finally, it’s important to point out that there is no ‘Best Tendency’. The important thing to take from the whole idea is that different is good and that there are ways to work with the strengths and the weaknesses of every person, no matter how different they may or may not be.