Introvert, or extrovert? That is the question … or is it?
For years now, I’ve talked ad nauseum about introversion, and how it differs from extroversion. Meanwhile, I’ve neglected an entire personality type:
The mysterious “ambivert”.
What the heck is an ambivert?
If you’re thinking “ambit-what?”, don’t worry, you’re not the only one who is confused by this term. An ambivert, which is the personality type right smack dab in the middle between an introvert and an extrovert, is an anomaly to most of us.
We imagine some strange cross between Bill Clinton and Keannu Reeves. This mix n’match concoction of a person looks like any other human, but really they are a hybrid. They have an extrovert’s nose, an introvert’s eyes, an extrovert’s femur, an introvert’s right tendon …
Of course, the above picture is far from accurate. Outward physical characteristics don’t determine whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert. Identical twins can fall on vastly different sections of the personality spectrum.
To answer what does make an ambivert different than an innie or outie, I think it’s important to get back to the basics.
Introvert vs. extrovert 101
An introvert is someone who gains energy from being alone, and loses energy in stimulating environments, such as social situations. An extrovert is someone who is energized by being out and about and socializing.There are several traits associated with being an introvert or extrovert.
– often quiet
– tends to speak more slowly
– drained by crowds, busy environments, loud noises
– enjoys solitude
– hates small talk
– hates the phone
– can keep up a fast-paced conversation
– energized by busy environments, and doesn’t mind crowds
– doesn’t like being alone for too long
– enjoys chit chat and banter
– can socialize for long periods without being drained
What makes an ambivert unique?
People often think that an ambivert is simply someone who socializes more than a typical introvert. Not quite. The true telling factor is how much recharge time someone needs after socializing.
If they need zero to very little, they are likely an extrovert. If they need ample alone time to feel at their best, they are an introvert. If they need only a medium amount of recharge time, they could be an ambivert. You might be wondering, what the heck is a “medium amount”?
The truth, is there is no set amount of time. Just like how an introvert’s social stamina differs from one person to the next, an ambivert’s need for alone time varies. I have a close ambivert friend who can make small talk with anyone, but is out of commission as soon as 9pm hits. Like me, she needs her recharge time after socializing, but to a lesser degree.
Ambiverts also tend to have a more even distribution of both introverted and extroverted traits. For example, they might love talking on the phone, but hate crowds. Or they might enjoy the solitude of nature, but want to share the experience with a small group of friends.
Here are 4 more common ambivert traits:
Ambiverts balance out whoever they’re with.
The even temperament of an ambivert can balance out an extroverted personality, and bring out an introverted one.
They are social chameleons.
Ambiverts are comfortable in a variety of social situations. For example, they don’t mind group conversations, or being the centre of attention. However, they also enjoy hanging back and observing.
Too much downtime makes an ambivert anxious.
Ambiverts enjoy spending time alone, but become anxious if they spend too much of their spare time in solitude.
They can tolerate small talk … for a little while.
Although they don’t despise small talk as much as introverts do, ambiverts are bored by too much fluffy banter. They’ll tolerate chit chat for a little while, and then want to dive into more meaningful conversations.
The lucky ones?
Some say that ambiverts are the lucky ones. They don’t have to deal with the challenges of being an extreme introvert or extrovert. They can happily navigate the middle ground, where there isn’t so much isolation, and misunderstanding.
Personally, I think each personality type comes with its perks and problems. I’d love to hear from any ambivert readers, who can shed some light on the challenges of having this personality type. Please do share your insights in the comments below. 😉