Introvert or extravert? Maybe you’re an ambivert

And how being an ambivert can help in your job search.

I conduct a poll at the beginning of my Myers-Briggs Type Indicator workshop. I ask my attendees to write on the back of a piece of paper if they had the choice to be an introvert or extravert, what they would choose. What do you think they choose? Easily nine out of 10 would prefer to be an extravert.

ambiverts

Their reasons for preferring to be an extravert (remember, we don’t have the option) vary from: extraverts are well liked; they make better small talk; they’re not shy; they get ahead at work; and, by large consensus, their lives are easier.

There’s good news for my attendees if they’re labeled as a slight introvert, they are an ambivert. Susan Cain’s newsletter explains it this way:

Based on your responses, you’re an ambivert. That means you fall smack in the middle of the introvert-extrovert spectrum. In many ways, ambiverts have the best of both worlds, able to tap into the strengths of both introverts and extroverts as needed. See below for information on introverts and extroverts; you’ll likely see part of yourself in both.

Although the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator doesn’t recognize it as a dichotomy, author Daniel Pink writes about the ambivert in To Sell is Human.

In his book Pink claims it’s not very clear extraverts, nor very clear introverts, who make better salespeople. It’s ambiverts who are better at selling (moving). Ambiverts are more balanced and therefore make better salespeople. (Take the assessment here to see if you’re an ambivert.)

Pink writes:

“Extroverts can talk too much and listen too little, [and] overwhelm others with the force of their personalities.” On the other hand, “Introverts can be shy to initiate, too skittish to deliver unpleasant news and too timid to close the deal,” but ambiverts “know when to speak up and when to shut up, when to inspect and when to respond, when to push and when to hold back.”

According to Pink, one out of nine people are proclaimed salespeople, but in actuality nine of nine people are salespeople because they are moving others. This is especially important to job seekers who have to move others while exercising their marketing plan, e.g., their written and verbal communication skills.

When we talk about introversion and extraversion, it generally comes down to energy level or re-charging one’s battery. Extraverts are said to have abundant energy, especially around crowds. Their batteries are re-charged by being with many people.

Introverts are more reserved and prefer smaller groups, which don’t drain their batteries. They need their alone time and, because of this may be seen as reclusive. Stealing away at times recharges the introvert’s battery.

Ambiverts adopt the traits of each side of the continuum; their batteries are charged by being with many people or being alone.

How this helps in the job search

As a general rule, extraverts prefer to communicate orally with others and tend to be more comfortable with small talk. They enjoy the back-and-forth banter. Introverts would rather communicate through writing and that’s how they learn best. Small talk can be more of a challenge for them.

Ambiverts are comfortable with both

Ambiverts have the energy extraverts have to attend networking events. They don’t give into the temptation to blow off an event after a hard day of looking for work. Ambiverts are also more open to meeting with someone for an informational meeting, whereas introverts may be a bit reluctant.

Written communications is generally considered a strength of introverts. They love the time to collect their thoughts and then write them down. Generally extraverts are impatient with written words; they prefer speaking to learn. Ambiverts also excel at writing their resumes, LinkedIn profile, and other written communications.

Do ambiverts exist?

Ambiversion is widely considered to be a farce by many members of the LinkedIn group I’m a member of, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Assessment, who claim you prefer one or the other. Yes, we have the ability to utilize all traits on the spectrum, but the consensus among the group is an ambivert doesn’t exist.

One member writes: “…I’m not offended by the word ‘ambivert’ but I do think it dismisses the idea embedded into the MBTI that we all have innate preferences and can learn to utilize skills from other parts of what are truly the spectrum, not dichotomies.”

Another member of the group explains we have a preference for introversion OR extraversion, while some are more comfortable adapting the traits of the other type. Ambiversion is merely a term to explain this: “We all have an innate preference for extraversion OR introversion. Someone with a level of type development that allows them to comfortably and adeptly execute behaviors associated with BOTH preferences is an ambivert.”


My take on all of this is that an introvert can utilize the traits of an extravert and vise versa, and should feel secure with this knowledge. However, if he/she doesn’t like to be labeled an introvert, there’s always the ambivert title to fall back on. Now, a true student of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator would tell Mr. Pink he’s practicing poetic license.

3 thoughts on “Introvert or extravert? Maybe you’re an ambivert

  1. Pingback: Nope to Networking: Think Again | Education Career Services

  2. Pingback: Job-search advice for extraverts | Things Career Related

  3. Patricia Weber (@InnieBabyBoomer)

    Gosh Bob with some of the answers you got to your Why question, I think there is still widespread misunderstanding and a general lack of awareness about all the positive traits of someone more introverted. In particular, as relates to communicating. I’ve taken the ambivert assessment in the past, and it comes up pointing me in that direction. However, at the end of the day, I HAVE more of an introvert preference. Note I did not say I AM an introvert. I’ve come to believe, these traits are more of what makes me up but they are not WHO I am.

    This post is a fun read!

    Like

    Reply

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