Given their social and outgoing natures, extroverts have never had much trouble gaining acceptance in the business world. In fact, they’ve been seen as sales naturals for decades. Meanwhile, introverts have recently staged an upsurgence , agitating for acceptance of their quieter but no less successful methods of doing business.
But often lost in the back and forth between the two well-known personality types is a startling fact—most people are neither.
“More than half the population is ambiverted,” according to Wharton School professor Adam Grant, Elizabeth Bernstein has reported in the WSJ . And what’s more, ambiverts actually have advantages over those who live more on the ends of the introversion-extroversion scale.
A study of salespeople published in 2013 “showed that the social and emotional flexibility of the ambiverts in the group made them superior salespeople,” notes Bernstein. “The employees with the highest revenue per hour—an average of $208, compared with $138 for the full sample—were ambiverts who had a personality test score exactly between extroversion and introversion.”
So how can you know if you’re not one of the more discussed types but actually fall in the advantageous middle? A helpful recent Medium post from founder Larry Kim could help. In it, Kim offers a long list of tells that show you’re a happy mix of introvert and extrovert, including these:
1. You’re Comfortable in a Range of Social Situations
Does a nice intimate dinner sound pleasant to you? Do you also like the idea of a raucous party now and again? Then chances are good you’re an ambivert. “You’re pretty flexible, and appreciate both time alone and in crowds,” writes Kim, describing ambiverts.
2. You Have a Cool Temper
Ambiverts tend to be less hot-headed than those with more extreme personalities. “As far as mood swings go, yours are pretty moderate,” writes Kim. “You’re not at all comfortable loudly expressing yourself like an extrovert, but you’re not apt to sit quietly and seethe with inner rage, either.”
3. Different People View You Differently
The flexibility of the ambivert personality is what makes it so helpful in business, but a byproduct of that reality can be different behavior in different social contexts—and the wildly different reputations that result. If this situation sounds familiar, then Kim suggests you might be an ambivert: “Co-workers see the side of you that is quiet and reserved, as that’s how you are in those situations. But friends see the real you, perfectly comfortable putting yourself out there if the situation calls for it.”
4. You Sometimes Struggle with Balance
“The drawback to being an ambivert,” Professor Grant told Bernstein, “is that it can sometimes be difficult for them to know which side of their personality to lead within a given situation.” Kim agrees: “Finding balance can be hard at first, as spending time with others can leave you feeling drained and needing a recharge . Yet too much time alone fosters gloominess and loneliness.” The key to ambivert happiness, both agree, is finding the right mix of social and solitary.
5. You’re Adaptable
Introverts and extroverts have only one card to play, but ambiverts can select from several options, which allows them to adapt better to a variety of situations. “You know when to stand down and when to speak up. You know when to respond and when to do nothing more than observe from the sidelines,” notes Kim.
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