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Not an Introvert, Not an Extrovert? You May Be An Ambivert


Not an Introvert, Not an Extrovert? You May Be An Ambivert

Sometimes social, sometimes solitary, ambiverts often make good sales people

Psychologists studying personality have long looked at the extreme traits of extroverts and introverts. Now they are focusing on the ambiverts in the middle.

By

ELIZABETH BERNSTEIN

Updated July 27, 2015 5:07 p.m. ET

Emeroy Bernardo enjoys spending time alone, meditating, exercising and working. When he goes out for dinner or drinks with friends, he sometimes quietly observes people’s facial expressions and body language. Often when he’s shopping or running errands, he ignores people he knows—pretending he doesn’t see them—to avoid small talk.

Still, the 27-year-old dance instructor who lives in Glendale Calif., considers himself friendly and meets new people almost everywhere—at the gym, at Starbucks, waiting to board a plane. At parties, Mr. Bernando is often the guy who starts a dance circle and then shows off his break-dancing moves.

Is Mr. Bernardo an introvert or an extrovert?

He is an ambivert, a solid mix of both.

The personality traits of extroversion and introversion fall on a spectrum, and most of experts’ focus has been on the two ends. Now, social psychologists, behavioral scientists and business experts are taking a closer look at the overlooked category smack in the middle—ambiversion—and deciding that people with this trait may have some personal and professional advantages for being adaptable.

Experts believe that the personality traits on the introvert-extrovert spectrum remain stable throughout life—they appear as early as infanthood and are difficult to change. On one end are extroverts (sometimes spelled “extravert” in psychology circles) who become energized externally. They love to have lots of people around them and to be the center of attention. They enjoy brainstorming with others and often form their thoughts as they speak. When by themselves, they easily become bored or restless.

Introverts, on the other end of the spectrum, become energized internally. They prefer to spend time alone, with one other person or with a small group. They feel drained by a lot of social interaction or a crowd. They gather their thoughts carefully before they speak.

PERSONALITY TYPES 101

Speaker, author and coach Beth Buelowdescribes typical behaviors.

  • The Ambivert

  • Socially flexible—comfortable in social situations or being alone.

  • Skilled at communicating—intuits when to listen or to talk.

  • Moderate in mood—not overly expressive or reserved.

  • Adaptable—no default mode, so they change their approach to fit the situation

  • The Extrovert:

  • Energized by external stimulation—with people, environment, activity

  • Processes thoughts while talking

  • Motivated by external rewards, recognition and feedback

  • Outgoing—easy to get to know

  • The Introvert:

  • Energized internally, while being alone

  • Craves solitude to balance out social time

  • Speaks only when they have something to say

  • Thinks before speaking, processing thoughts internally

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