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Ambiverts: the best of both worlds

Jun 29, 2018
'Introverts' and 'extroverts' are commonly used words in the world of personalities. Extroverts refer to those who get their energy from other people, tend to speak before they think and are considered very sociable. Introverts, on the other hand, tend to get energy from within, are more reserved in nature and tend to think before they speak.

However, most people report that they are neither strongly extroverted or introverted and reside in the “middle”. This middle group are often referred to as ambiverts (the term coined by Hans Eysenck in 1947). Research shows that two thirds of the general population fit into this category, yet many have not even heard of this term. Often referred to as the “outgoing introverts”, ambiverts essentially have the best of both worlds. 

As with all personality types in the workplace there will be strengths and blind spots. Let’s take examine this closer for ambiverts.

Strengths

Ability to “flex” and adapt

The greatest advantage for ambiverts is that they can flex more easily into being introverted or extroverted depending on the context. Ambiverts don’t have one dominant preference of functioning over another, thus allowing themselves to adapt far easier. For example: they may express sufficient assertiveness and enthusiasm in a situation but at the same breath are likely not to appear too excited or overconfident. 

Better listeners 

Extroverted people are often considered ideal speakers, while introverted people are perfect listeners. These two skills combined make ideal communicators. Ambiverts naturally engage in a flexible pattern of talking, listening and adapting to peoples’ needs. 

Emotional stability

Extroverts tend to be under-stimulated by their environment, while introverts are often overstimulated and considered to be hypersensitive to their environment. Ambiverts offer a good balance between the two. 

Gets on well with everyone

Due to the aforementioned points above, ambiverts make really strong team players and get on well with everyone. They tend to be classified as “easy-going”.

Blindspots

Indecisiveness

Ambiverts can often find it difficult to know which side of their personality to lead in certain situations, which can lead to indecisiveness. The term “split personality” comes to mind here. This can serve as a demotivator if the ambivert is not aware of this. This tends not to happen to introverts or extroverts as they are more sure of their natural preference. 

Socially ambivalent

Ambiverts are characterised as being ambivalent about social situations – sometimes enjoying the company of others, but also enjoysolitude at times. It can sometimes be hard to “get it right” with an ambivert. Ambiverts are often “selectively social”. 

Perceived moodiness

Even though ambiverts are classified as more emotionally stable, there can be a common perception that they are moody. With an ambivert, you never know what side you’re going to get.

Identity confusion

Ambiverts can cause confusion to introverts and extroverts as they can behave differently one day to the next. This can sometimes cause issues while managing or being managed by an ambivert – it may be sending mixed signals to your team. 

The most important thing to remember with any personality type is awareness. Once you are aware of what you are, then you can adapt accordingly. 

Fiona Buckley is an executive coach and trainer.