Are you an ambivert?
Carl Jung came up with the concept of introverts and extroverts. According to Jung, an introvert is “someone who draws energy from quiet reflection.” They like to spend time alone or with one or two people they feel close to. They often need to be alone to recharge after being in a group social setting. On the other hand, an introvert is “someone who draws energy from being around people.” They like social events and being with others. An extrovert is often referred to as a “people person.” I took many tests during my life to see if I was an introvert or an extrovert. To be honest, I’ve never really been sure where I stood on the scale.
My wife claims I’m a “super-extrovert,” while I believe I have many introvert characteristics. So, who is right? It turns out we both were. I’m an “ambivert.” The introvert/extrovert dichotomy is an old-fashioned way of looking at personality because most of us end up being somewhere between the two extremes. I’ve never understood why we must choose one or the other. Each of the extremes on the spectrum has strengths and weaknesses. Where we place on the introvert-extrovert continuum is a crucial trait of our personalities.
Adam Grant, associate professor at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, found that two-thirds of us are ambiverts. That means we don’t identify as one or the other but tend to have the traits of both introverts and extroverts. Grant found that ambiverts lean more toward introverts or extroverts, according to the situation. Are you with me so far? Great. Grant went on to say that ambiverts have “a distinct advantage over true introverts and extroverts because they find it easier to adjust their approach to others based on the situation. Consequently, they can connect more easily and more deeply with a wider variety of people.” His research also dispelled the myth that extroverts make the best salespeople. According to Grant, ambiverts sold 51% more products per hour than the average salesperson, thanks to their greater social flexibility.
Dopamine and stimulation
Dopamine, the brain’s feel-good hormone, largely determines how social we are. As we all have different dopamine-fueled stimulation levels, those who have high levels of dopamine-fueled stimulation are usually introverts, which came as a surprise to me. I thought it would be the other way around. This is because introverts try to avoid extra social stimulation that “might make them feel anxious or overwhelmed,” according to Grant. On the other hand, those with low levels of dopamine-fueled stimulation are usually extroverts. They bore easily and seek social stimulation to feel good. Ambiverts’ levels of dopamine-fueled stimulation don’t fluctuate as much, which sometimes means they look for additional stimulations and sometimes avoid it.
If you identify as an ambivert, you must learn how to make yourself lean toward one extreme or the other when it becomes necessary. If you’re an ambivert and you don’t know yourself well, you’ll find it difficult to move in one direction or the other. Suppose you do have a high level of self-awareness. In that case, you’ll know when to be extraverted or introverted for optimal success. That’s why it’s essential to know where you lie on the introvert/extrovert scale to play to your strengths, increase emotional intelligence and boost performance. But being an ambivert isn’t all butterflies and rainbows. Ambiverts face problems, too. Ambiverts can be so flexible that they have liabilities. For example, ambiverts love to talk to people, but they also want to plan how they do it first. They often say yes to doing things in the future, but then when it comes time to these things, they lean more toward introversion if they’re tired. And sometimes, they genuinely get “caught in the middle” and can’t make a decision.
If you don’t feel like the descriptions of introverts and extroverts are a good fit, you could be an ambivert. Here are a few signs that you might be an ambivert. You’re a good communicator AND a good listener. You’re able to regulate your behavior as the situation dictates. You’re both comfortable in social settings and in “alone time.” You’re naturally an empathetic person. You’re able to provide balance in social situations. You’re equally happy out and about in a crowd or at home alone reading a book. You’re great at knowing when to talk and when to listen. Regardless of where you fall on the introvert/extrovert scale, if you take the time to analyze how you act and interact, you’ll improve your personal and professional relationships.