Are you often energized by social gatherings, but then unexpectedly mentally depleted other times? Then you just might be an ambivert. According to Science of People, an ambivert is defined as: “someone who exhibits qualities of both introversion and extroversion, and can flip into either depending on their mood, context, and goals.”
As someone who often feels distinctly pulled in either an extroverted or introverted state depending on the situation, I knew immediately by definition that this was the more-ambiguous “personality limbo” where I fit in. And, clearly, I’m not alone. An article on PositivePsychology cites organizational psychologist Adam Grant, who estimates that more than 50 per cent of the population are ambiverts.
To help give us some more insights on this heavy contrast, we brought in Alyson Jones, a Vancouver-based psychologist with more than 20 years in the field. She explains, “when it comes to understanding personality there is a continuum with introversion on one end and extraversion on the other end, with ambiverts falling somewhere in between. Many people are familiar with the idea of the outgoing loud extrovert or the quiet reserved introvert – but they may not be highly aware of the ambivert.”
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Are you an ambivert?
So, where do you fall on the scale? The answer to this question, according to Jones, begins with evaluating your social energy standings.
Ask yourself: when you are in a social situation, does it increase your energy or deplete your energy?
“For an extrovert, they will find themselves energized after being with people, whereas an introvert will lose energy throughout the social event even if they are enjoying themselves,” Jones says. “For the ambivert, their energy level may depend on the context of the situation, who is there and the level of balance they are feeling in other aspects of their lives. If you sometimes prefer being conversational and social and then other times you prefer being reflective and alone – you might be an ambivert,” explains Jones.
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What are some of the personality traits of an ambivert?
Beyond simply balancing the duality of contrasting extremes in personality, there are some specific qualities that are common amongst ambivert personality types. Specifically, a lack of desire to “take over” in social interactions, increased empathy and the ability to regulate their emotions.
As Jones explains, “ambiverts do not need to dominate the social situation they are in, but they do like to participate socially by actively listening and talking in conversations. They are good at making space for others and paying attention to the people they are with.”
She adds, “they also tend to have high levels of empathy as they can suspend themselves and appreciate the perspectives of others even if they do not agree with them. They are often curious and engaged, but once their energy starts to deplete, they need time to gather their own thoughts. They can also regulate their emotions quite well as they appreciate and strive for balance in many aspects of their lives. They do not want to be the loud expressive person, nor do they want to dwell quietly with an inner upset or resentment.”
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Signs you might be an ambivert
According to Jones, there are a few telltale signs you might just be an ambivert:
- Social events can be a lot of fun, but your energy starts to go low if you are around people too much.
- You are flexible. You can work in a group or on your own.
- Different people describe you differently – some may say you are social, while others say you are quiet.
- You enjoy quiet time, but too much of it can leave you feeling bored and lonely.
- You enjoy a good conversation, but sometimes you just want to be alone with your own thoughts.
- You can handle networking and small talk, but when you hit your superficial social threshold, you have little tolerance.
- Your mood swings are relatively moderate, and you tend to avoid extremes.”
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What are the drawbacks of being an ambivert?
Like with any personality type, there are highs and lows that present themselves.
“Ambiverts value balance, so they can get overwhelmed when things are unstructured or unbalanced in some way,” Jones explains. “Because ambiverts can emotionally regulate well… people can sometimes see them as dispassionate and analytical. [However, because an] ambivert can see both ends of the scale and understand other perspectives, they can get overwhelmed by extremes.”
Jones adds, “sometimes the ambivert can find too much time with others draining while too much time alone can make them feel down and lonely.”
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What makes an ambivert happy?
This one is pretty simple, according to Jones, who tells us: “The key to happiness for an ambivert is finding a balance between social and personal time.”
Ultimately, knowing yourself and your own unique drivers is the best way to navigate any personality type. Check in with yourself regularly and take note of what kinds of scenarios and interactions engage either your extrovert or introvert qualities and go from there.
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