In Myers Briggs personality testing, individuals are typed along a continuum from introvert to extrovert. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (July 28, 2015) by Elizabeth Bernstein introduced a term for the two-thirds of people who are actually towards the middle, calling them ambiverts. There are also recent TEDx talks about how temperament type influences relationships at home and at work. Now we know there are three options on this personality parameter.
Extroverts get energized by being with people. They process their own thoughts as they speak aloud to other people. Extroverts are easy to get to know. They enjoy praise, recognition and awards.
In contrast, true introverts recharge by being by themselves. They can be good with people, but often need time afterwards alone to balance out all the extroversion. They think before they speak and may plan out what they are going to say. Introverts love solitude, which allows them time to internally process their thoughts and feelings.
Ambiverts are well-liked because they are good at both extroversion and introversion. It's like they are bilingual in both modes of being. They can use their intuition to know when to speak and when to listen. These ambivert individuals are moderate; they aren't overly reserved or overly expressive. They are socially flexible.
To help identify if you are an ambivert, consider how you might feel in certain situations. After a busy day at work, what would you want to do after work? Would you rather meet up with friends or go home and unwind by yourself? Ambiverts often split the difference by wanting a little of both. They may want to meet with friends for a bit, then head home for some down time. Ambiverts often choose the middle path, balancing and rebalancing time with people and time alone.
A study published in the Psychological Science journal in June 2013 found ambivert employees at a call center to have better social and emotional flexibility which made them more successful in their work in sales. Adam Grant, a professor of psychology at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania asserts that ambiverts have emotional awareness and flexibility that give them better skills in parenting, marriage and other close relationships.
Ambiverts need to be aware of burnout and boredom which are indicators you may have been stuck too long in the extrovert or introvert mode. It's helpful to be able to look reflectively at situations and know when to withdraw, open up, listen or speak.
Studies suggest that extreme introverts and extreme extroverts make up about one-third of the population, while the remaining two-thirds of us are ambiverts. Knowing your own type on the extroversion scale and being aware of the needs and differences of your partner, your children, your friends and co-workers is useful information to help you flex and understand.