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Why Being Both Extroverted And Introverted Is Good For You

Why Being Both Extroverted And Introverted Is Good For You

Variety is the spice of life- and I believe that when you possess the characteristics of being both extroverted and introverted, you find yourself on the fast track to living a more balanced and successful life.

Growing up, I was known as “The girl with no filter”. I liked to talk a lot. I spoke my mind, considering any notion of whether the time and place rendered it appropriate, irrelevant. I loved being the center of attention. I cracked jokes and spoke loudly. I wanted to see and be seen. From psychologist Carl Jung’s perspective, I would be considered extroverted, through and through. I get my energy from being around people. I love public speaking and have no issues with walking into a crowded room full of strangers.

Jung coined the terms ‘extroverted’ and ‘introverted’ in the 1920s. Introverted people are defined as being shy and reticent. People with extroverted personalities are said to be outgoing and socially confident. Extroverts get their energy from being around other people. Introverts get their energy from being alone. However, we have to understand that we really the characteristics of both extroverts and introverts to survive. You can read more about Jung’s psychological types here.

We live in a high-speed, in-your-face society. We’re pressured to pursue things harder, better, faster, stronger (as the Daft Punk song explains). As we try to keep up, we’re riddled with social anxieties, depression and other mental illnesses. We need to slow down. But how do we face these challenges in a better way?

By being ambiverts! Sprinkle in some social stimulation and a dash of spending time alone, and- voila! You are now a more even-keeled, happy individual.

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In her eye-opening novel, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain examines how we live in a world dominated by extroverts. Extroverts are championed for being social and outgoing. We’re pushed to take centre-stage.

Upon reflection, as I grew older, I found that being the loud-mouthed social butterfly was starting to get tiring. I was sick of putting my foot in my mouth. I was literally sick after weekend benders. Making plans with everybody all the time became a chore. Some would call it a quarter-life crisis- I’d say it was time to grow up.

I would still say I’m an extrovert, but now I enjoy the blissful habits of being introverted, too. I stay in on weekends, I can’t get enough of reading a great book, and I’m far more in touch with my feelings and the feelings of others. I now proudly find myself to be both extroverted and introverted: an ambivert.

The more I learn, the more I realize the importance of emotional and behavioral flexibility. It allows you to connect with people from all walks of life, but more importantly: yourself.

Here’s why being an ambivert is good for you:

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1. You’re a phenomenal communicator.

Knowing when to slow down and listen, or ramp up and make your point, will make you a better leader, lover, and friend. It will also make you happier, and add more balance to your life.

2. You’re extremely adaptable to whatever is thrown your way.

You’re like an emotional chameleon, able to adapt to different scenarios by calling on your knowledge of how both extroverts and introverts tend to act.

3. You don’t fear change.

The only thing constant in life is change. You embrace the uncertain because you know you can handle it.

4. You love a good social outing, but also love quiet time at home just the same.

You feel energized when you’re with people you care about, but you also understand the importance of recharging with quiet time when you get home.

5. You know when to speak up.

You know the importance of standing up for what you believe in.

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6. You know when not to speak up.

You understand that in some situations it’s best to be a passive listener and sit quietly while the other person speaks.

7. You’re assertive, but not too overbearing.

You know what it takes to get things done, but you’re not pushy or rude about it.

8. You know when to observe and when to respond.

You are successful in many social situations because you are able to read cues and be an active listener. This helps you to know what kind of behavior is appropriate in different situations.

9.You know when to push and when to stand back.

Sometimes you have to let people know you mean business, but you’re okay with admitting your faults and standing down in a conflict.

10. You’re flexible.

Not the kind of flexible where you can touch your toes (but maybe this fits you too)- but you’re able to go with the flow and not get wound up in taking things personally or making it all about you.

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11. You’re emotionally intelligent.

Because you’re an ambivert, you know both sides of the story; you are aware of other people’s feelings, as well as your own.

12. You’re a people-pleaser, but you also know when to say “no”.

Making other people feel good makes you feel good, but you also know when someone is trying to take advantage of you.

13. You know that being both extroverted and introverted is badass.

To learn more about why being an introvert is awesome, watch Cain’s TED talk, The Power of Introverts. To learn how to speak up and take on conflict, full-frontal, watch Margaret Heffernan’s talk, Dare to Disagree. 

Ambiversion is often overlooked and undervalues, but together we can share the beauty of being both extroverted and introverted- and make for a more ambiverted tomorrow!

Featured photo credit: Fisheye + Ringflash + Pub = via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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