Most people know the terms “extrovert” and “introvert” as ways to label a personality. Interestingly, though, roughly two-thirds of the population fall into a different category—ambivert.
Never heard this word? Let’s take a look at the characteristics of an ambivert and how being one might impact a career.
What is an ambivert?
Think of personality traits as a spectrum, with introvert on one end and extrovert on the other. Some people possess a definite inclination toward a specific side, but that leaves a good amount of middle ground. Consider this space ambivert territory.
Introverts tend to be quiet and reserved. They commonly avoid crowds and being the center of attention. While socializing isn’t their strong suit, they bring a variety of other abilities to the table, including focus, preparation, excellent listening skills, and thoughtful contemplation.
By contrast, outgoing extroverts like the spotlight and find the company of others energizing. They often enjoy novel situations and risk taking, and they may think and act quickly.
Ambiverts exist between these two extremes. They exhibit qualities of both extroverts and introverts. The direction they lean toward can change depending on the situation or even their disposition on given day.
Extroverts, introverts, and ambiverts: Personality type determiners
Why do people vary on the scale? How social you are is largely driven by your level of dopamine-fueled stimulation in the area of the brain called the neocortex. Introverts tend to have naturally high levels of stimulation, so they stay away from extra social stimulation because it makes them uncomfortable or jittery.
Low-leveled extroverts, however, crave more stimulation and seek out social activity to help them feel good. Ambiverts tend not to be innately high or low, or they may fluctuate and seek solitude/socialization as their needs change.
Not certain where you fall on the extrovert-introvert continuum? Try this short quiz.
Ambiverts and the workplace
With a chameleon-like nature that enables introverted or extroverted behavior to emerge depending on the circumstance, ambiverts present an interesting package to employers.
“Ambiverts don’t get enough attention, but perhaps they should considering all of the strengths they bring to their job,” says Caleb Backe, certified life coach and business consultant for Maple Holistics. “Since ambiverts fall somewhere in between introverts and extroverts, it’s sort of like having the best of both worlds.”
He notes, for instance, that in networking situations ambiverts know how to relate to both vocal people and those who are more reserved, so they make valuable connections more easily. Ambiverts also can listen to and absorb information presented around them in a business meeting, then feel comfortable enough to use that information to instruct others or state a firm opinion. “By navigating both sides of the spectrum, ambiverts seem to have a winning combination,” Backe says.
Michael Tuso, head of business development and enablement at Chili Piper, adds that ambiverts are great to have on teams because they are both task-oriented and enjoy being around people at the same time.
“People who are ambiverts typically have a focus that surpasses that of their peers. When pure extroverts are hopping from desk to desk at the office, the more middle-of-the-pack social people are typically focusing on completing the task at-hand. They also have the emotional intelligence to be able to communicate efficiently and read people and situations. Because they do possess the social and interpersonal skills, they can get projects done efficiently,” Tuso says.
That’s not to say ambiverts are magical, capable-of-everything employees, and they definitely do not all fit into one mold. Rather, their attractiveness comes from first-hand identification with “both sides of the coin.” They understand the desire for solitude as well as the appeal of lively social situations.
They feel comfortable (at least at times) with deliberative thought and listening quietly, yet also may have no problem chiming in during chaotic brainstorming sessions. And because they relate to the experiences and feelings of both extroverts and introverts, ambiverts may excel at something valued in virtually every workplace—empathy.
Overall, ambiverts have a large number of strengths that make them great workers in different work environments and social situations. The ability to easily move between the introvert and extrovert spectrum can lead ambiverts to great career success.
Regardless of where you fit on the spectrum, FlexJobs can help. We offer flexible positions in more than 50 categories. Learn more today!
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Tags: career advice
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