Why is Ambivert the new Extrovert?

European Day of Languages 2019

Research by Adam Grant (2013), a professor at the Pennsylvania Wharton School, concluded that there was no co-relation between an extrovert personality and his or her income.

According to the Washington Post, for 3 months he studied the performance of over 300 sales men and women working at a software firm and provided them with commonly used personality assessments that measured extroversion and introversion, the personality labels he described as the extremes of a spectrum rather than two individual types, between measures of 1-7 (1 being the most introverted and 7 being the most extroverted).

The results were rather unexpected as neither the extroverts and nor the introverts made the highest amount of sales. Instead, it was the Ambiverts that earned $155 revenue per hour thus beating the predicted winners, the extroverts, by almost 24%!

Who really are ambiverts though?

The term ‘Ambivert’ was first used by Kimball Young in the book ‘Source Book for Social Psychology‘ (published 1927), stating that there was at last a third personality group with people whose motivation could not be categorized as either intrinsic or extrinsic.

In layman terms, an Ambivert is someone who possesses qualities of both an introvert and extrovert. Social interactions stimulate them just as they would an extrovert but spending more than a certain amount of time in such a setting would cause over-stimulation, thus causing them discomfort, as it would to an introvert.

Ambiverts relish their ‘alone’ time yet spending a whole day by themselves could lead to them feeling unhappy and unproductive. Moreover, they gain equal amounts of joy from voicing their views and knowledge as they do from listening to others do the same. Daniel Pink, the author of ‘To Sell is Human, aptly refers to them as ‘bilingual’.

Trends from the past, and widespread common knowledge, suggests that successful people are, more often than not, extroverts. This is because of their enthusiastic and assertive nature, their need to be the center of attention and their confident attitude. Success has almost always been directly linked with one’s ability to be persuasive, energetic and ‘out there’.

When you think about the ideal successful entrepreneur, names like Richard Branson and Mark Cuban come to mind. They are people we’d often call extroverts. But are all successful people extroverts? No, not really. Personality types don’t necessarily determine the success of an individual; the environment, their creativity, skills and many more factors contribute to it. Introverts and Extroverts need the skills that they wouldn’t necessarily possess to be prospering profitably in the market; for example, patient listening skills and a spirited attitude (respectively).

According to Barry Smith, a professor and the director of Laboratories of Human Psychophysiology at the University of Maryland, approximately 68% of the total population is ambivert. So why does being an ambivert signal an advantage over the other two extremes on the personality spectrum?

Ambiverts are ideally right in the middle of the personality spectrum, owning features of an extrovert as well as an introvert, enjoying the best of both worlds.

And what is it that sets them apart AND gives them an advantage?

  • Adaptability & Flexibility: For Ambiverts, no ‘one’ method or way of doing things is the best. They adapt according to the situation they’re in and the people they’re with, putting both the introverts and extroverts at ease.
  • Emotionally Stable: While extroverts may not be the most empathetic or sympathetic people out there, introverts might be oversensitive and care too much. Ambiverts tend to have a balance in this aspect thus be understanding yet assertive.
  • Productive yet ‘fun’ when working in teams: They know just what to do and say to get their teams more productive and comfortable, all while making sure that the group enjoys what they do.
  • Talk their heart out and genuinely listen: Ambiverts can hold an intellectual conversation and make small talk, both with equal effortlessness, yet know when to stop and listen; they can pay attention to other’s views and take them in in a positive manner (another example of their flexibility).
  • Intuitive: According to journalist Daniel K Pink, this quality happens to do them good in business as well as in life; “”know when to speak up and when to shut up, when to inspect and when to respond, when to push and when to hold back.”
  • Know when to play it safe and when to ‘risk’ it: Following their intuitive nature, Ambiverts know exactly when to be impulsive and when to give it a second thought, unlike extroverts who might not think of the consequences of their actions as much as they should and introverts who might over-think them. 

If you have never truly fit into either the extrovert or introvert category, chances are that you’re an ambivert. In the opinion of Adam Grant, “one can be successful alone if they’re an ambivert but if you’re either an extrovert or introvert, chances are that you will need the other to cause balance and be successful.”

So, be psyched to be an ambivert! There are more advantages than just these to being you.


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By Saania

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