Don’t Identify As An Extrovert Or Introvert? You Might Just Be An Ambivert

This lesser-known personality type bridges the gap!

Three women looking out over sunset with hands raised.
Photo by Simon Maage on Unsplash

You’ll likely be across the introvert and extrovert personality types; with the former being regarded as quiet, subdued and in desperate need of alone time, while the latter are often characterised as loud energiser bunnies that never get tired and love socialising.

But, what if neither of these feels like you? Well, you’ll be glad to hear that there is, in fact, a third addition to the list. All hail the ambivert—a personality type which is “someone who exhibits qualities of both introversion and extroversion”—with qualities that you might just recognise in yourself.

Here’s what you need to know:

It’s a spectrum

As a society (and particularly in the wellness community), we seem to love labels. You might be keto, paleo, vegan, a crossfitter or a yogi, and while this serves to keep some people on track; it can also be quite restrictive. Well, the same goes for personality types. It’s not a hard and fast rule that you have to be one or the other—it’s a spectrum that you will fit somewhere on. It’s important not to get bogged down in labels, as this could lead you to make decisions that don’t best serve you, e.g. “I’m an extrovert so I have to spend my weekends with friends.”

Photo by Duy Pham on Unsplash

It’s likely situational

The thing with ambiverts is that their levels of introversion or extroversion will likely differ greatly according to the situation they’re in. I’m a classic-case ambivert (although would definitely lean more towards introversion on a spectrum) and I tend to feel SUPER awkward in stereotypically ‘cool’ situations. At gigs, nightclubs and in the majority of loud, dark environments I feel myself retreat into my shell and go quiet; whereas in more chilled-out environments like a pub lunch, a cafe breakfast or in nature, my extroversion comes to the fore.

Science of People encourages people to split common locations into three categories; Thrive, Neutral and Survive. So take things like cafes, bars, restaurants, nightclubs, boardrooms, networking events and BBQs and make a list of where you feel like you thrive, where you feel like you’re comfortable enough, and where you feel like you just have to get by. This will help you build your schedule and time around the locations where you can be your truest, best self.

Photo by Sam Manns on Unsplash

The advantage of being an ambivert

You could say that being an ambivert gives you access to the best of both worlds and qualities in both introversion and extroversion that allow you to flourish. According to psychologist Hans Eysenck, who coined the term ‘ambivert’ in 1947, “ambiverts offer a good balance between the hypersensitivity of some introverts and the domineering attitude of some extroverts.”

Similarly, Daniel Pink for the Washington Post, contends that ambiverts “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.”

He argues that ambiverts make the perfect leaders (which is contrary to the many extroverts that make their way to positions of power), as is offers a more calibrated approach. Ambiverts are people “who can talk smoothly but also listen keenly, who know when to turn on the charm but also when to turn it off, who combine the extrovert’s assertiveness with the introvert’s quiet confidence.”

Keen to find out which box on the spectrum you fit into? You can take the TED introvert, extrovert or ambivert quiz here!

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