Tag Archives: Ambivert

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.

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5 ways the introvert succeeds in the job search

IntrovertExtravert

Do you know an introvert who is an active listener and can also make small talk with the best of them; is enthusiastic about writing and also enjoys speaking in public; and thinks before he acts, yet takes well-timed risks?

This person combines the best of his introvert and extravert traits. When it comes to the job search, this is exactly what the introvert does in order to succeed.  Adopting traits of both dichotomies may be difficult, awkward, and even exhausting; but he must maintain his focus on the endgame.

Here are five crucial areas of the job search and how the introvert combines both traits to succeed in the job search.

1. Being proactive. The introvert is reflective… focused…when it comes to the job search, but thinking too much about the proper ways to make that call to a desired employer can hinder her efforts. Making personal contact can delay the inevitable if she’s unwilling to get outside her comfort zone.

The extravert can teach the introvert a lesson on taking action. She will do her sleuthing (LinkedIn, Google, or a connection within a company) for a hiring manager’s contact info and  pick up the phone to inquire about openings or secure an informational meeting.

Note: A blend of strategic planning and taking the necessary action isthe solution for success. To act without thinking can blow the deal and may cause damage to the introvert’s reputation.

2. Networking. The introvert listens to a potential connection, asks insightful question, and actually retains the other networker’s answers. But have you ever encountered an awkward moment when you’re standing with someone and he’s not saying a word, just staring into his glass of wine? The silence is so loud that you can hear a pin drop.

This is when the extravert’s ability to engage in small talk must be emulated by the introvert to save the day. The extravert will fire up the conversation with talk of current events (not religion or politics), inquiries about her new friend’s family, occupation, or sports, etc.

Note: The introvert makes networking enjoyable because of her ability to listen and engage in small talk. As well, she can utilize her introvert nature by talking in depth.

3. Marketing material. Because the introvert prefers written communications, writing résumés and cover letters should come easy to him. Research is essential in understanding employers’ needs and then describing how he can satisfy those needs. This is right up the introvert’s alley. How the introvert distributes his written material determines the success in getting it to the person that counts.

The introvert can again benefit from the extravert who will use his outgoing nature to distribute a résumé and cover letter in person, at an informational meeting or persuading the right person to hand them to the hiring manager. He will not spend hours a day blasting his written communications into the dark void known as the job boards.

Note: The introvert must ensure that his résumés and cover letters demonstrate value; effective distribution is not enough. Introverts must take appropriate time to complete his marketing materials, not too long.

4. Following up. The introvert understands the importance of following up after a networking event or meeting someone for coffee, and will send an email or even a thank-you card. The correspondence is in the form of written communications, which is comfortable for the introvert, but not always the most effective way to follow up.

The extravert, on the other hand, will pick up the phone and call her new connection the next day at an appropriate time, taking one more step to securing the relationship. She will suggest another time to meet at a convenient time, perhaps for coffee. Email is too slow, in her mind; it doesn’t get immediate results.

Note: Relying on only on email will not seal the deal, so a combination of email and verbal communications is required for the introvert to succeed.

5. The interview. The introvert prepares well for the interview. He has done his research on the position and company, as well as the industry. The difficult questions will not surprise him because of his preparation. He is reflective and this will come through during the interview. However, he may come across as too reflective, not spontaneous enough.

The extravert, on the other hand is all about spontaneity. He is outgoing, gregarious, and feels comfortable making small talk. The introvert can benefit from his extraverted side by adopting these traits. He must also remember to smile and show enthusiasm.

Note: This is the most important stage of the job search; therefore, it’s important that the introvert calls on her extraverted traits. Most interviewers are drawn to outgoing, confident candidates, which come through easily for the extravert.

The introvert/extravert make a good team. For some introverts, all of this is easier said than done. However, she must call upon her extraverted attributes. On the introvert/extravert spectrum, lying closer to the center makes the transitions easier; lying closer to the extreme makes the transitions more difficult.

Photo: Flickr, Ewa Henry