Tag Archives: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

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.

8 awesome traits of the introvert

I wrote this post more than a year ago but have since added another strong trait of the introvert. 

When I ask my Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) workshop attendees if they think I’m an introvert or extravert, they usually guess wrong. “But you’re so lively and loud,” they say.

What do they expect from me, Dawn of the Living Dead?

Many people don’t see the eight awesome traits introverts demonstrate. Here they are:

1. The ability to speak in public is the first of eight awesome traits the introverts demonstrate. Those of my attendees who guess wrong about my preference believe that to be an effective speaker, one must be an extravert.

They see my outward personality as an extraverted trait. I don’t blame them for guessing wrong, because society has been under the impression that showmanship belongs exclusively to the extraverts.

2. You want a sincere conversation? You’ll get it with introverts. Our thing is not more is better, as in the number of people with whom we speak. No, we prefer talking with fewer people and engaging in deeper conversation. You’ll know we’ll give you our undivided attention. It’s helpful if we’re interested in the topic.

3. We think before we speak. Dominating a meeting is not our style; we favor something akin to Parliamentary Procedure. That doesn’t mean we don’t have intelligent things to say; we just don’t like to compete with the extraverts who learn by talking.

The problem with our method of communicating is we might not get the opportunity to get our brilliant thoughts out in the open.

4. We rule when it comes to research. We learn best by researching topics on our own and, as such, prefer the computer over dialog. Extraverts learn best by throwing around ideas among their colleagues and friends. We find staff meetings unproductive unless there’s an agenda and some sense of order. Brainstorming is usually a waste of time to us.

5. We hear you the first time. We’re considered great listeners. But we don’t appreciate being talked at. We’re perceptive so you don’t need to stress your point with 10 minutes of nonstop talking. You don’t like caviar, you say. And you had a bad experience eating it when you were a child. Got it.

6. We love to write. Writing is our preferred mode of communication, but this doesn’t mean we’re incapable of talking. We just don’t have the capacity to talk from sunrise to sunset. Writing allows us to formulate our thoughts and express them eloquently. There’s no denying, however, that our workplace favors those who talk; so there are times when we put down the pen and let our voice be heard.

7. We’re just as creative as the next person. Our creative juices flow from solitude, not open spaces where people throw Nerf footballs, eat cookies, and attend wrap sessions until 10:00 pm. If you see us working intently in our offices or cubicles, we’re usually enjoying “moments,” so don’t break our concentration. Nothing personal; we’ll join you at the pool table when our work is completed.

8. We can stand being alone. We don’t need constant attention from others; rather we enjoy the time to think and reflect on life in general. Some might consider this as standoffish, but those are people who require a great deal of stimuli and don’t understand the beauty of Quiet (watch Susan Cain’s YouTube video). We develop long-lasting friendships with fewer people, as deeper is better than broader. Don’t pity us if you have 20 friends and we have only five. We’re good with that.


My MBTI workshop attendees are not far off the mark when they guess I’m an extravert; I do have the ability to put on the Robin Williams act, or revert to a serious Bill Belichick persona. I put 100% into teaching the finer points of the job search, and as a result my exit from the room is quick and toward the stairway to where I can retreat to my computer.

Procrastination: the curse of the Perceiver

I’m supposed to be writing a résumé for a customer but instead am sitting at Panera Bread at 8:30 pm checking my e-mail. After I check my e-mail, I’ll go to LinkedIn to see what my connections are up to. Most of my connections are connecting with others, some are posting articles, and others are  joining groups.

So I check if any of the articles are interesting. Cool, one of my connections  posted an article on…procrastination. Gotta check this out for sure. I read it and it’s a great article on how procrastination is not a desirable trait but not the end of the world.

One take-away for me is that one must avoid perfectionism, something I truly detest. I mean, if you can complete a task in one hour rather than three, all the better, even if the quality isn’t the best it possibly can be.

Another statement the author makes is that one’s way of not doing the important thing is to do something else. Like reading instead of completing their expense report before it’s due. In my case it’s perusing my e-mails instead of tending to this darn résumé I’m supposed to be writing.

My daughter recently took the MBTI for a psychology class she’ll be taking. She came out as an ENFP. When she told me, I told her she’s screwed. Why, Perceivers often tend to procrastinate even though they end up getting their work done. My wife and I are still waiting for her to complete a project she could have crossed off the list at the beginning of the summer. She’s a procrastinator for sure.

I often tell my MBTI workshop attendees that two very important dichotomies are Judging and Procrastinating…I mean Perceiving. Although we try to avoid harping on the stereotypes of each dichotomy, it is important to note that those who prefer Perceiving can have the tendency to procrastinate.

What this means in the job search is that Perceivers tend to produce and deliver their résumé, cover letter, and application later than those who prefer Judging. Those Judgers would never be turning to Twitter when they’re supposed to be writing a résumé. In some cases a Perceiver might fail to send in the necessary information and, thus, lose out on a potential interview.

I know for sure that the more demanding and more undesirable the work I have to do, the more I’ll tend to put it off till the 11th hour. I’m not racked with anxiety but, as you can tell, I am a bit uncomfortable having this assignment hanging over my head. So why don’t I just finish writing the résumé now, instead of waiting till the last moment? (Read this article about how difficult it is to “flex” between Perceiving and Judging.”

I’m much better at giving advice than following it. So I tell jobseekers who are having difficulty getting their résumé written to perfection to send in their best work when a deadline is looming. It doesn’t have to be perfect (because perfection doesn’t exist); it’s more important to get it in than miss the deadline.

The Judging types don’t understand this conundrum, as they’re prone to making lists and schedules and following their plans to a T. They wouldn’t be sitting at Panera Bread reading their e-mails and tweets, thinking of ways to avoid writing a darn résumé, wondering if a bagel is in order. No, they would be concerned about getting that résumé done and then ordering a bagel, which they’d eat in good conscience.

For all that’s great about preferring Perceiving, such as spontaneity, adaptability, a laid-back demeanor; it sometimes sucks procrastinating and putting undue anxiety on yourself. Take it from me.

2 facts about how introverts communicate and network

introvertnetworking

Career advisors, when advising certain jobseekers, have you ever noticed that small talk–breadth of knowledge–is not their forte? Rather they’d prefer to talk about more substantive topics–depth of knowledge–and appreciate the time to formulate their thoughts before talking. What you get from them is rich, deep discussion that’s very purposeful.

Have you also noticed they don’t seem excited when you encourage them to network? It’s not their thing, entering a room full of strangers with whom they have nothing in common. It drains their energy even thinking about it. They may tell you they’d rather walk over burning coals than attend an organized networking event.

If they exhibit these behaviors, it’s likely they’re introverts (read this post from the Huffington Post) and may not realize this, unless they’ve taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I didn’t know my preference for introversion until I took the MBTI when I was 45-years-old. And when I got my results I was shocked because I considered myself to be outgoing.


Communicating

As you’re meeting with your jobseekers, be mindful of how they communicate with you. Introverts are innate listeners who are not as comfortable with small talk as their counterpart, the extraverts, who are quick to start the conversation and would like you to listen. Your conversation with introverts will be deep and thought provoking, but you’ll most likely have to jump-start it.

The best approach to take with an introvert is to start the discussion by stating some observations and then following up with questions. Now stand back and wait for your introverted jobseeker to deliver some insightful statements. Try not to interrupt.

For example, “After looking at your résumé/LinkedIn profile, I am impressed with the detail in which you describe your past jobs. You list a great number of duties. But what I’d like to see are some more accomplishments. What do you think?”

This question gives them the open door to express their thoughts. “I see your point, and I think I could explain how I was close to 100% accurate in my accounting responsibilities. In fact, I was often acknowledged for this and won ‘Employee of the Month’ many times.” You give your jobseeker the opportunity to express her thoughts, and then you do what any good counselor does, sit back and listen.

Joyce Shelleman, Ph.D, offers this sage advice: “Offer [introverts] the opportunity to follow-up with you the next day with any additional questions or thoughts. It usually takes time for an introvert to think of all the things that they want to communicate if they haven’t been able to anticipate your question in advance.”

Networking

It’s no secret that structured networking makes many people uncomfortable, especially introverts. One quote I share with my workshop attendees is from Liz Lynch, Smart Networking: “At the first networking event I ever attended by myself, I lasted five minutes—including the four minutes it took me to check my coat.” This quote clearly illustrates how networking for the first time can be like trying to speak another language.

Now imagine how an introvert feels presented with the prospect of entering a roomful of strangers, expected to make small talk, and (most difficult) promoting himself. He will feel tired just thinking about having to talk to people he doesn’t know, particularly after a day full of looking for work. He may also experience bouts of reluctance prior to a morning networking event.

But here’s the thing; networking is a vital tool in the job search and it’s your job to encourage your introverted jobseeker to attend networking events. Suggest 5 points of attack:

  1. Tell him to have a goal of how many people he’ll talk to at the event. If three is what he decides, that’s fine. Introverts prefer to talk to fewer people and engage in deep, thoughtful conversations.
  2. Suggest that he takes a friend or two. There’s more comfort in having someone by his side to talk with if things are not going as planned. Advise him, however, not to spend all his time at the event with his networking buddy.
  3. Provide encouragement by reminding him that he should focus on asking open-ended questions and listening carefully to what others say. People like to be listened to, and introverts are great listeners.
  4. Enforce upon him that he doesn’t have to be fake; rather he should be natural when speaking with other networkers. He doesn’t have to launch into his 30-second commercial as soon as he meets each person, which will serve to push people away.
  5. Lastly, he doesn’t have to be the last one to leave; although, he might be the one to close the joint if he’s having a grand time. This is in the realm of possibility.

As a career advisor, be cognizant of how introverts communicate. Give them space to express their thoughts and remember that the meetings you have are not about you; they’re about helping your jobseeker express their thoughts so you can better help them. Networking can be unpleasant unless the introvert has realistic expectations, so remind him that he’s in control of the situation.

Book Cover

The struggle between introverts and extraverts

ActorI’m an introvert with a strong preference for thinking, which, in short, means I’m a fan of action and not a great deal of talking.

This sometimes irritates people in my life who desire unceasing conversation and can’t understand my need for silence and reflecting.

My attention span for people who talk incessantly is as short as a gnat’s life; unless I’m enthralled in the conversation.

I recently read an article called The Extroverted Introvert (note I’ll spell it “extravert”) in which the author talks about the introvert’s need to adapt to our society’s preference for extraverts. In other words we become actors to satisfy people who prefer conversation over action.

“Many of us don’t like social mingling.  It’s a labor to us, a chore, and frequently a curse.  We look at it with dread and we feel drained already by the looming prospect.  But in order to do what we want and get places in life, we must form connections with others.  This is where the extroverted introvert contradiction comes into play,” the author writes.

For introverts enduring incessant talking or being “forced” into conversing, this can be a demand on their patience. Someone like me in this situation will try to find the exit (figuratively and literally) as quickly as possible. There’s no disputing that introverts are different than extraverts when it comes to communicating.

Solitude is golden to an introvert

Introverts value their solitude and will go out of their way to get it. I think of the times I leave work to get a coffee and traverse the sidewalk that leads to my favorite coffee house, blinders on and walking at a cheetah’s pace. Eddie, my favorite server, is always ready to engage in conversation; I’m not. My answers are short. I don’t stand around to talk. I’m alone in my privates space, even though I’m among other consumers. There are times when I feel like talking, but usually I’ve determined that before I enter the building.

Whereas extraverts prefer to communicate through talking, introverts would rather communicate through writing. Writing allows introverts the freedom to gather their thoughts before sharing them with the world. I often tell my MBTI workshop attendees that I think I’m a better writer than speaker because of the aforementioned reason.

The ideal conversation for introverts

Introverts totally dig discussions with people with whom they want to talk. Doesn’t everyone, you might think? Yes, even extraverts prefer to talk with people of interest, but they tend to be more inclined to talk to more people than introverts would. They like talking and enjoy being with people. When introverts are presented with a situation where talking for the sake of talking is in order, it’s annoying and they’re looking for that exit.

Introverts sometimes feel trapped

I suppose everyone feels trapped at times, but introverts feel this sensation more often, especially when they have work to do and are being intruded upon by someone who won’t stop talking. If there’s a diplomatic way to say, “Leave my space immediately,” introverts would use it quite often. I haven’t mastered the exit phrases that don’t offend intrusive people, which might be due to my fear of seeming rude.

One of my extraverted colleagues often stands in the entrance of my cube when I am working intently on assignments. He shows no intentions of leaving my space as he talks about topics that are interesting only to him. He doesn’t take the hints I clearly give, such as turning my attention to my computer screen, or responding with “um,” “right,” “sure”–he continued to talk.

Introverts sometimes come across as aloof

What’s mistaken for aloofness is introverts taking advantage of their alone time or, what’s known as recharging their batteries. Introverts’ method of recharging their battery might confuse, or even offend, extraverts who recharge their battery by being with people.  My colleague, Dorothy Tannahill-Moran, wrote an article, The Introvert’s Guide to Networking and Relationships, in which she aptly puts the importance of introvert’s relating to extraverts this way:

“Even though you may get impatient with conversations that don’t seem to have a purpose, you need to understand that for others, talking out loud is part of the process of thinking, validating and relating. You do this mostly internally. You need to develop patience and consider participating, because to the extrovert this is relating and developing relationships.” 

Introverts often feel like they’re on stage

Unfortunately, the extraverted world is not yet willing to value introverted differences; rather extraverts expect introverts to fall in line and communicate like them. Introverts just don’t know how to make the extraverts see communication the way they prefer it. People who are proficient at listening and intuition, introverts and extraverts alike, are those who feel no need to make others conform to their way of dialog.

It seems unfair that introverts are made to feel different, if not odd. But this goes to show us how powerful the spoken word is. When I was in college, my roommate asked me what I thought was more important for success, written or verbal communication. I quickly answered the former, and he argued the latter. I should have taken this as a warning that I was in for a lifetime of being on stage.

Misconceptions about introverts. 4 facts about both types

I always want to know the inner thoughts of people, so on occasion I’ll ask my Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) workshop attendees if they had their choice what they would prefer, introversion or extraversion.

Most of the participants enthusiastically say they’d prefer the latter. Usually these are the true extraverts or extravert wannabees–the introverts, secure in who they are, don’t volunteer their opinion quickly.

My next line of inquiry would be asking the group how extraverts are perceived by society. Usually the extraverts and wannabees are the first to speak. They each take turns extolling the characteristics of the extravert: fun…outgoing…full of energy…friendly…confident…they like to party…loud….

Fair enough. Now I ask the group how they perceive the introverts; again the ones who speak up first are usually the extraverts and wannabees who talk without giving it much thought: shy…quiet…secretive…withdrawn…boring…don’t say much….The introverts reserve their comments for a better time to speak.

I help the group to see a pattern; extraverts are described in more favorable terms, save for “loud”; while introverts are described in negative terms, save for “quiet.” Enough articles have dispelled the belief that introverts are shy, secretive, withdrawn, and boring; but society still sees them as the less desirable of the two…ergo my attendees’ desired preference for extraversion.

Here are some facts we learn about both dichotomies:

  1. Extraverts are talkers and learn best by bouncing ideas off one another; introverts prefer written communications and enjoy the process of researching on their own.
  2. Extraverts are great with small talk, the envy of introverts; but introverts are known for their capacity to listen.
  3. Extraverts feel confident in large groups, whereas introverts prefer smaller more intimate groups. This is not to say, however, that introverts can’t function in large groups–it takes more effort and getting outside their comfort zone.
  4. Extraverts are uncomfortable with silence, while introverts relish it. Introverts feel no need to fill empty space and need time to re-charge their batteries.

Perhaps because my workshop group trashes introverts, or because I’m an introvert, I feel the need to defend the less desired of the two. I stress that introverts can be outgoing and fun…for a certain amount of time. Then it’s time to recharge their battery. Read an article,  7 things extroverts should know about introverts (and visa versa)on how extraverts and introverts can better understand each other’s behavior.

It’s not that introverts are necessarily quiet, don’t talk, or are boring; they like to process information before speaking. What they say can be as brilliant as what extraverts say; introverts just say it when they’re ready. (Unfortunately we sometimes miss the window of opportunity.) The article mentioned above says it nicely, “If you want to hear what we have to say, give us time to say it. We don’t fight to be heard over other people. We just clam up.”

The final question I ask the group after we’ve discussed the accurate personality traits of both factors is, “What do you think I am, an introvert or extravert?”

Usually the extraverts and wannabees say without thinking, “Definitely extravert. How could you get up there and talk if you are an introvert?” Others who have been paying attention and shuck off the stereotypes say I’m an introvert who has the ability to demonstrate more “extravert” type tendencies. These are the introverts who speak up with conviction. And they’re correct.

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Checklist for 26 job-search topics for the New Year

For Christmas my wife sent me to the grocery store for various ingredients for our holiday dinner. I knew trying to remember all the ingredients was going to challenge my waning memory, so I asked her to write a list of said ingredients.

She rolled her eyes but understood how important it was for me to return with the proper ingredients–so important that her list numbered in the area of 25.

The lesson I learned from my shopping spree–by the way, I got all ingredients–was that it was akin to the list of must do’s in the job search.

In reading the list of must do’s below, ask yourself if you’re doing each one in your job search. For example, do you have an elevator speech? Have you attended informational meetings? Consider this the checklist below a partial list of your “ingredients” for the job search.

  1. Understand your workplace values.
  2. Determine what you want to do…what you really want to do. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a great tool.
  3. Hannah Morgan, Career Sherpa, suggests, “a personal marketing plan. It ensures better information gathering during networking meetings and more proactive rather than reactive job search actions.”
  4. Ask for an informational meeting to talk to someone to make sure you’re on the right track, or to introduce yourself to a company.
  5. Assess your skills and accomplishments. Make a list for both.
  6. Learn how to write your résumé. Attend workshops offered by your college or local career center.
  7. Write a targeted résumé with highlighted experience and accomplishments.
  8. Write a cover letter template, which will later be targeted for particular positions.
  9. Create a personal commercial or elevator speech which explains your value to the employer.
  10. Determine how you’ll approach the job search, making networking your primary method.
  11. Join LinkedIn with full intention of engaging, not using it as a place mat on the Internet.
  12. Copy and paste the contents of your new résumé to your LinkedIn profile, which you’ll modify to be a better networking tool.
  13. Develop a networking list that includes past colleagues and managers, as well as others who we’ll call your superficial connections.
  14. Formally let people know you’re out of work. How can they help you if they don’t know you’re looking?
  15. Develop business cards for your business—the product you’re selling is you.
  16. Attend networking events. Make sure you bring your business cards.
  17. Follow up with everyone with whom you’ve conversed and exchanged business cards.
  18. Send approach letters/e-mails to companies for which you’d like to work.
  19. Organize your job search by keeping track of your inquiries, contacts, résumés sent out, etc.
  20. Prepare for telephone interviews. Make sure all of the above written communications are in place.
  21. Ask for mock interviews which should be recorded and critiqued by a professional career consultant.
  22. Do your research on the jobs and the companies to which you apply.
  23. Double check your first impression, including attire, body language, small talk, and portfolio.
  24. Be prepared to answer the difficult questions concerning job-related, transferable, and personality skills.
  25. Have your stories ready using the STAR formula.
  26. Write thank you notes via e-mail or hard copy.

Have you been doing everything on this list, or the majority of them? If you are missing any of the above, make sure to nail them this year. Let me know of others I’m missing. Perhaps we can double this list. And yes, the meal was excellent.