I remember the first time I took a personality test. I was in seventh grade, and I was an ENFP. Two years later, I took the same test, and came out an INFJ. Which area was the more borderline on both tests? Then first letter, of course. My results came out almost 50/50, between “extrovert” and “introvert.”
Because of this, I have been very interested in all that literature that has come out on introverts within the past few years. While people are embracing their identities as either “introverts” or “extroverts,” I have found myself sitting between the two camps.
And while I have been sitting between the two camps, I have been observing. I have seen people taking on their label as “introverts,” and allowing it to limit them. Nobody is introverted all the time, just as nobody is extroverted all the time. According to the article “4 Reasons You Should Tear Up That Name Badge,” published in the Counseling Blog, limiting one’s personality to a label denies certain aspects of who that person really is.
So instead of trying to fit solely in to the “introvert” or “extrovert” camp, perhaps it is time to embrace you inner ambivert. Introversion and extraversion exist on a continuum, and two-thirds of the population fall somewhere in the middle and can be considered to be ambiverts. Ambiverts definitely do take the best of both worlds.
Here are some signs that you may be an ambivert:
1. You experience spurts of energy, and then you need some time to recharge.
According to the article “Surprise! You May Be an Ambivert!” by Leigh Weingus, published in the Huffington Post, sometimes ambiverts are the life of the party, and sometimes they want to curl up with a book. For ambiverts, spending time socializing and spending time alone are equally as important.
In my own experience, I have found that I love spending time with friends, but I become antsy after a few hours. During extended visits and vacations, I always need to plan some alone time at different intervals throughout the day.
2. You are neither overly social nor overly quiet.
Weingus states that some ambiverts do not experience the fluctuations in energy. Instead, they are more neutral. These people are a little bit outspoken, and a little bit quiet.
I notice these behaviors in myself during meetings. I don’t tend to monopolize the floor, but I also do speak up when I have an idea. I have found that this is an advantage at work, as I am able to listen to other ideas while still sharing what I have to contribute.
3. You easily get bored or burned out.
According to Weingus, ambiverts can become bored or burned out if they spend too much time in either an extroverted or introverted role. When they are surrounded by other people for too long, they crave solitude. And when they are in a quiet situation for too long, they wish to be around other people.
My example of needing time alone after being social for a few hours, illustrates this well. And I have also experienced the flip side of the coin. When I have been writing for a long time, I begin to feel like I’m going to jump out of my skin if I don’t get out of the house and see my friends.
4. You can adapt your persona to different situations.
Weingus states that ambiverts are emotionally and socially flexible. She reports that it is “like being bilingual.” Ambiverts can adjust their approach and communication skills to best match the person or group they are talking to. For this reason, ambiverts make excellent salespeople.
This is a trait I have observed in myself. I have been able to adjust my wording, tone, and approach when working with different clients, as well as in my teaching job. Some people are intimidated by an overly extroverted approach, while other people make assumptions if you don’t communicate everything outright. Being able to adapt has been a huge advantage for me.
5. You prefer to bring friends with you when encountering new situations.
Ambiverts do not often start conversations with strangers, and they feel more comfortable meeting new people if they bring friends along. They like to meet new people and socialize, but they are more comfortable with people they are familiar with.
I have noticed myself feeling awkward when I am in a group of people where I do not know anyone. I often end up left out of the conversation, because I am not comfortable jumping in or asking questions. Having someone familiar in the situation decreases this feeling of awkwardness. This feeling could be a sign that you are an ambivert.
6. Sometimes you speak up, and other times you are quiet.
Ambiverts will often talk a great deal, if a topic of interest to them comes up in a conversation. Otherwise, they are content to sit and listen. They feel neither the urge to keep talking nor the desire to remain silent. Ambiverts can be interesting to listen to at a social gathering, and they are also excellent listeners.
When I am in a group, I will gladly take the floor and share if minimalism, philosophy, or education is the topic. Otherwise, I enjoy observing other people sharing ideas and telling their stories. In fact, I feel less overwhelmed at a gathering if I am able to engage in a mixture of talking and listening.
7. You act differently at work than around friends.
When you are both extroverted and introverted, you may be calm and professional at work, then more inhibited with friends. This is due to the ambieverted ability to adapt their persona to different situations. In a high-pressure job, an ambivert may well be more assertive at work than at home.
I have noticed that I am more reserved at work, but also more confident in my ability to handle situations. I will be more at-ease with friends, but I do become anxious in challenging social situations. I am much more confident dealing with work-related challenges than social drama.
8. Small talk sometimes annoys you.
Ambiverts are usually very good at small talk, but they tend to find it annoying, because at times it feels insincere. Ambiverts prefer honest, straight-forward relationships.
I have found that I use different strategies for small talk, than other people. Rather than “how are you?” I will ask the person unusual questions about their life and thoughts, to try and learn something interesting about them. The usual “I’m fine. How about that weather?” is not something that I enjoy talking about.
9. You are able to stay calm in heated situations.
In the article, “9 Signs You Might Secretly be an Ambivert,” written by Larry Kim at Inc, Kim reports that ambiverts are very good at holding their temper. They are not comfortable speaking out loudly, but they also do not tend to sit quiet with their rage either. Ambiverts actually experience less swings in their emotions because they are less effected by rage or anger.
I have noticed that I am very good at diffusing tense situations, both at work and at home. Because I am able to communicate more clearly before the situation escalates, other people have begun to do the same for me, which has resulted in a rather drama-free life.
10. You have a strong sense of intuition.
Intuition serves the ambivert. They can trust their instincts to know when to speak up and when to observe from the sidelines. Having both the ability to communicate clearly and the ability to observe others allows the ambivert to better process the situation and develop of stronger sense of intuition.
My intuition has served me well at work. I have been able to adapt my approach, depending on what the person needs–sometimes that is speaking up, sometimes it is speaking quietly, and other times it is listening.
11. You have difficulty making decisions.
In some cases, ambiverts tend to think too much. When they must make a decision, they internally analyze all angles of it, and then consider every single piece of advice that has been given to them by family and friends. While an extrovert will just consider information from outside sources and an introvert will just analyze it in their own mind, an ambivert will consider both sources of information.
I find decision making to be tiring and often overwhelming. I tend to talk out my decisions with everyone I know, and then spend time thinking about it on my own. The advantage is that I do make much more informed decisions, that take everybody’s wishes into consideration and also make sense within my own mind.
12. You are flexible in social situations.
Finally, ambiverts are comfortable in both extroverted and introverted social situations. They will not experience anxiety at a party, but they are also happy at a quiet dinner. However, this leads them to be a “jack of all trades, but master of none.” While an extrovert will excel at a party, and an introvert will work brilliantly in a quiet setting, an ambivert does an okay job at both.
I have noticed that I am comfortable in all situations, but that I am never the “life of the party.” I have also noticed that, while I enjoy solitude, I don’t feel as deeply connected to myself in quiet settings as an introvert. Learning to cultivate some of the skills that my extroverted and introverted friends have, would be very useful in my case.
If, like me, you are an ambivert, then you will want to take some time getting to know yourself. You have the ability to cultivate some of the strengths of both introverts and extroverts. You have a very flexible identity that can allow you to have some strong advantages in your relationships, your career, and your life.
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