You're neither extroverted, nor introverted. So does that make you an 'ambivert'? Let's find out...
It’s Friday night, and you’re out with work friends. Only it’s a new job, so you’re not feeling totally sure of yourself, and there’s a niggling voice in the back of your head screaming (screaming) at you not to say anything stupid every time you open your mouth. So for three hours, you sit quietly, laughing at everyone’s jokes, thinking before you speak and nodding your head up and down until your neck hurts. All before making your excuses and legging it home to the comfort of your bedroom, where you exhale in relief and watch eight episodes of Wet Hot American Summer on Netflix.
Fast forward 24 hours, and you’re out again. This time, with your oldest, dearest, most ridiculous friends. You’ve elbowed your way to the middle of the table, and you’re mid rant about that time when your ex boyfriend thought it was acceptable to get a tattoo of an Icelandic post rock band on his right bum cheek. ‘It was in ICELANDIC!’ you exclaim, as you grab the wine bottle and top up everyone’s glasses so that they can’t leave. ‘Only like, 300,000 people even speak Icelandic! That’s not just limiting your future conquests – that’s removing them altogether! What is he going to do? Marry Bjork?’
Sound familiar? Yep, us too. Right down to the tattoo*. But it doesn’t mean you’re a sometimes-extrovert, sometimes-introvert. It actually means you’re something else altogether.
According to Daniel H Pink, an expert in the subject, an ambivert is ‘neither strongly introverted nor strongly extraverted. Recent research by Adam Grant of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Management has found that ambiverts make the best salespeople. Ambiverts tend to be adept at the quality of attunement. They know when to push and when to hold back, when to speak up and when to shut up. So don’t fall for the myth of the extraverted sales star. Just keep being your ambiverted self.’
In other words, sometimes you’re outgoing – sometimes you’re not. Sometimes you just don’t want to have a conversation with that one-time-work-colleague, so you bow your head and stare intently at your mobile as you pass them so that you don’t have to talk.
On other occasions, you text everybody in your phonebook because you can’t physically bear to spend another minute in your own company.
Unfortunately, there are a few drawbacks. Apparently ambiverts can struggle to work out which side of their personality to turn on in certain situations, and can end up feeling like they’re being too loud, or too quiet – rather than just being themselves. But academics believe that if you think each situation through carefully beforehand, then you have a better chance of adapting your behaviour accordingly and actually succeeding in it in the long term. Which makes sense.
If you’re still not sure whether it applies to you, Pink has developed a quiz, based around the following 18 statements and how you react to them.
I don’t like to draw attention to myself.
I start conversations with people I don’t know.
I enjoy spending time alone with my own thoughts.
I feel comfortable in groups and like working in them.
I tend not to assert myself.
I talk to a lot of different people at parties.
I’m a good listener.
When I am around people for a long time, my energy fades.
I don’t mind being the center of attention.
I tend to think before I speak.
I am comfortable being alone and like things I can do alone.
I am the life of the party.
I get bored when I’m by myself.
I always feel comfortable around people.
I don’t talk a lot.
I try not to keep in the background.
I am quiet around strangers.
I tend to want others to pay attention to me.
You can take the quiz in full here.
*Sigur Ros, you have a lot to answer for.