Join Gretchen Rubin for an in-depth discussion in this video Upholders, part of Gretchen Rubin on Creating Great Workplace Habits.
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- You know when you're in a big meeting, and they tell you not to use your cell phone during the meeting, and then one person picks up their cell phone and starts texting away under the desk? Sometimes there's one person who's just glaring away, who clearly is so uneasy by this person using their cell phone. Or maybe you're the one who's very uneasy when you see that person using their cell phone. Well, if that's you, or it describes somebody you know, that person is an upholder. I'm an upholder. I can't stand it when people use their cell phones that way, because upholders readily meet outer expectations and inner expectations alike.
So they keep a New Year's resolution without much fuss, and they also meet a work deadline without much fuss. They like to know the rules. Like, if it says no cell phones, they're not going to use their cell phones and they're going to be very uncomfortable if someone is breaking that rule. And in the workplace, upholders can be terrific, because they're the ones who are very focused on expectations and meeting those expectations, and they don't need a lot of supervision. They don't need oversight, they don't need a lot of deadlines. You can just say, give them an assignment, let them go off and do it, and they will do it without a lot of support.
Now, there are downsides to the upholder tendency too, because upholders sometimes become, it can be hard for them to think outside the box. It can be hard for them to work in environments where the rules are ambiguous or it's not clear what the rules are, which is true in many cases. And they can also sometimes become almost paranoid, worrying about whether they're breaking the rules. But of course, in some workplaces, that's exactly what you want. You want somebody who's absolutely, 100% focused on meeting regulations or making sure that something is done particularly well. And upholders also can, because it's pretty easy for them to meet both outer and inner expectations, they can kind of carry other people along, because since it comes fairly effortlessly to them, if there are team members who have trouble executing, trouble following through, a lot of times, upholders can lead the way and provide that necessary momentum, because for them, it's like, "Well, what are we doing about this?" "Are we moving forward on that?", and "Don't we need to schedule a meeting?" Because for them, it's pretty easy to meet those kinds of expectations.
One thing to be wary of if you are the upholder, is that upholders can be judgmental. I'm an upholder, and it comes pretty easily to us to meet expectations, outer and inner alike, and we can get very impatient and annoyed with people when we see them struggling to meet expectations that to us, seem fairly obvious and simple to follow through. And so, it's very important to remember that the other tendencies don't see the world the way that upholders do, and it's important to build in the systems that are going to allow the other tendencies to be able to execute through with whatever the workplace demands are.
So from a workplace perspective, it's pretty easy to work with upholders because they'll meet the outer expectations of the workplace without much fuss, but they don't, also their own inner expectations they meet without much fuss, too. And so, they don't need a lot of supervision and oversight.