Common thought holds that there are two types of social personalities. Extroverts are the norm, and they tend to draw energy from their physical and social environment and interactions in highly social situations. Introverts have been getting more attention recently, as characterized by Susan Cain in her work Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Not surprisingly, introverts tend to draw their power from solitude and silence.
But there might be a third category of social personality: the ambivert. You may be an ambivert and not know it, but with this list of signs, you can diagnose yourself and plan accordingly.
1. You are most comfortable in crowded spaces, but when you are in them, you don’t tend to seek out interaction.
Whether it’s at a party full of people you are somewhat familiar with, or in a coffee shop full of fellow writers knocking out their next best-sellers, ambiverts tend to want to be around but not with people. If you find yourself consistently seeking out crowded spaces so that you can blend in, you might be an ambivert.
2. You tolerate or engage in small talk, but can get very engaged in intimate conversations.
You know what the requirements of making small talk are (What’s the whether like? What happened in a generic pop culture moment?), but you often find yourself getting engrossed in deeply intimate and sometimes existential conversations. If you find yourself surviving small talk, but living for the conversations about the meaning of life, this is a sign you are an ambivert.
3. You adjust your personality based on the energy level of the company you are in.
Because you are flexible, you find yourself shifting personalities sometimes. If you are with a high energy, highly-extroverted person, you will try to rein them in by becoming more reserved. If you are with an introverted person, you will try to dial them up.
4. You might be the life of the party – until you are 100% drained and cannot manage that energy any longer.
Ambiverts can dial up their story-telling abilities and their energy levels and hold a crowd – but only for so long. If you find yourself holding court for a while and then hitting a wall, you’re an ambivert.
5. In spite of being the life of the party at times, you find it hard to assert yourself and your needs in intimate situations.
You think a person who can hold court at a party would be unafraid of telling others what they need in smaller settings, but in reality, it’s often hard for ambiverts to make it clear what they need in a small setting. When asked about themselves in intimate conversation, ambiverts often stumble over their words. Intimate conversations are supposed to be about the meaning of life or the significance of a new film or a societal ill, and not about something silly like yourself, right?
6. Meeting new people is fine, and being in new places is fine, but meeting new people in new places overwhelms you.
Like a childhood teddy bear, ambiverts need to hold onto something familiar. If you are intending to meet new people, you’d rather it occur in a familiar place, and if you are going to a new place, it better be with those you trust. Throwing both together is too much.
7. You can’t decide which is a better memory – that one party or that night spent alone watching Netflix.
Ambiverts treasure both situations equally. They may spend a whole weekend partying in the same suit or dress, or they might spend a whole weekend in sweat on the couch, and they will love both situations equally.
8. You understand very quickly what drives others.
Ambiverts know both social personality types, and so they can immediately tell which person is which. They know what drives the party girlfriend and the bookworm friend, mostly because they’ve lived both situations themselves.
9. Group projects or solo ones – you always achieve the same (high) level.
Ambiverts have no preference about whether to complete tasks alone or with others, but they tend to be able to drive the project to completion regardless. Depending on the people involved or the content, they tend to enjoy both.
10. You’ve been called both an extrovert and an introvert, and didn’t know there was another option until now.
Your book club wonders how you can be so outgoing, and your party people wonder why the heck you are in a book group. Until know, you didn’t know which category you fit into, because it was neither! Congratulations, you have figured yourself out, you complicated ambivert, you!