You’ve heard the words “introvert” and extrovert” used to describe people’s personalities. But did you know there are also “ambiverts?” Understanding these terms can help you understand your personality type better and offers a key to a potential career pathway.
Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Karl Jung (1875-1961) identified the tendency of some people to be influenced by the external world. He called them “extraverts,” although this spelling changed with time. People influenced from within their own internal worlds he called “introverts.”
SOURCE OF PSYCHIC ENERGY
The common understanding of these terms is not what they truly mean. Introverted people are commonly thought to be shy, a negative trait that indicates distress rather than individual preference. Extroverts are thought to be outgoing, perhaps boisterous, people who love to be the center of attention. Here, too, there’s a hint of a negative perception. However, the simplest explanation is that introverts are those who get energized in solitude, while extroverts are those who get energized by the presence of people around them.
The reality is that there are no absolutes. Personality is a spectrum, or range, between introversion at one extreme and extroversion at the other. Most of us fall somewhere in between, making us “ambiverts.” Karl Jung is said to have observed that anyone who was either a complete introvert or complete extrovert would likely be in a mental institution. Taken to the extreme, these tendencies would render someone incapable of surviving in society.
In an article in Fortune, Dr. Travis Bradberry points to research by Wharton School of Business organizational psychologist Adam Grant. Grant discovered that two-thirds of people don’t identify themselves as either introvert or extrovert. “The direction ambiverts lean toward varies greatly, depending on the situation,” Bradberry writes.
“People who show a range of emotions are seen as more human,” says clinical psychologist Paulette Gibbons. “Their social skills enable them to be good listeners, which creates trust. Ambiverts are the most welcomed, and the most welcoming, personality type in society.”
A MYTH DEBUNKED
This ability to connect with people means that ambiverts are better suited to becoming successful sales professionals than extroverts are. This debunks the stereotypical myth of the gregarious, glad-handing, extroverted salesperson. In fact, Grant’s research showed that ambiverts’ social abilities enabled them to outsell all other groups, moving 51% more product per hour than the average salesperson.
The Virtanza Sales Certification and Job Placement Program applies social ability as an entrance requirement for students in its groundbreaking course. People with good social skills who had never considered sales as a profession are learning they have what it takes to excel in sales. Virtanza’s mission is to transform that basic potential into highly trained, qualified sales professionals.
ARE YOU AN AMBIVERT?
Bradberry suggests responding to a set of statements to see where you fall on the intro/extro/ambiversion scale. If most of the statements apply, Bradberry says, you’re most likely an ambivert:
- I can perform tasks alone or in a group. I don’t have much preference either way.
- Social settings don’t make me uncomfortable, but I tire of being around people too much.
- Being the center of attention is fun for me, but I don’t like it to last.
- Some people think I’m quiet, while others think I’m highly social.
- I don’t always need to be moving, but too much downtime leaves me feeling bored.
- I can get lost in my own thoughts just as easily as I can lose myself in a conversation.
- Small talk doesn’t make me uncomfortable, but it does get boring.
- When it comes to trusting other people, sometimes I’m skeptical, and other times, I dive right in.
- If I spend too much time alone, I get bored, yet too much time around other people leaves me feeling drained.
What’s your personality type? Whatever you learned will give you deeper understanding of yourself and what makes you tick.
Author Ibby Vores, SHRM-SCP, is a human resources consultant and a Virtanza instructor. She teaches resume writing, cover letter customization, and interviewing techniques.