Are You an Ambivert?

Don’t Believe Every Assessment You Take

As a leadership coach, you might think I’d like personality assessments. But I don’t. It’s not that they don’t have some value.  I just think that they’re more limited than people allow for: that humans are more complex than any automatic assessment can capture.

And I don’t care what their creators and promoters say about how precise they are, I get different results depending on the time of day, what’s going on my life, and how much coffee I’ve had.

Perhaps you’ve felt boxed in by one of these reports. According to at least two instruments, I’m an Introvert. And sometimes that feels true: I do sometimes like to think quietly until I’ve fleshed out my thoughts. Other times, though, I spew nascent ideas as fast as I can think them. At times I do gain energy by being alone. But after a while I need to get up and be with people.

About 7 years ago, I came across an assessment called the Highlands Ability Battery that promised to measure innate abilities that didn’t fluctuate after the age of 14.

That was when I heard the term Ambivert for this first time. Finally, I felt understood by an assessment. It was actually worth the painstaking three plus hours to take the tests.

We Ambiverts can be very confusing to others. We can be gregarious one moment, meditative the next.  We get a charge from being with people and working on a team…until we don’t.  For me, this really resonated. I can lead a day-long workshop with passion and deep empathy. After, you can find me in a fetal position in my car, recharging my batteries.

For you all you Introverts and Extroverts, I have a message: it’s not personal, and we’re not crazy.

So What Can an Ambivert Do?

Let people know about your style: that your behavior fluctuations are not about them, just about you needing to manage energy.   Be realistic about your needs. When you need to recharge, don’t feel guilty stepping away. You’ll be more useful and nice to be around when you return. And when you’re in the mood to talk out loud, say that these are early thoughts and that you’re tossing them out. On the other hand, if you need time to think before responding, say so.  People will be less confused, and will make fewer wrong assumptions about your intent.

Think you’re an Ambivert? How can you tell? What advice do you have for others?

Assess Yourself: Find out if you’re an Ambivert with this quick online assessment from Dan Pink

Article: Why Ambiverts Succeed in the Workplace

Book: Don’t Waste Your Talent by Don Hutcheson

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Comments

  1. Junesummer says:

    I figured out a few years ago my introvert-extrovert ways can be confusing to others. It’s really validating to see that there’s a term – ambivert – and that others experience this same reaction. I always wondered where other ambiverts are since most people I know seem to function best closer to the one end or the other of the spectrum.

  2. Jax says:

    I just found out I’m an Ambivert. Still dont know what that means. If I had to think of what it meant, I would say, depends on the mood. Like being bipolar. Yeah. We do need to step away and recharge, we do need to be social creatures at times, we can be alone, we can be surrounded. We can be the life of the party, and we could be the one standing in the corner muttering to ourselves. (Okay, that one was creepy) Point is, we are able to do things without hating it because…. we are Ambiverts? Well, can anyone tell me more? You have any idea how hard it is trying to tell people how you are and getting it wrong because you like both things? I like being quiet, or just reading a book quietly but I’m also a DJ, so I like the blaring sound pounding away at my face as well. It also has its benefits, but I wont tell you what that is cuz its our little secret. he he.

  3. Paul says:

    I discovered the term ambivert like 5 minutes ago while watching a video about introverts. I’ve always thoughts was an introvert, but I guess I’m actually an ambivert who leans towards introversion. I’m not fully there though. I love being alone. I truly do. But I can be the life of a group. A trendsetter. Someone to be remembered, quoted, and revered. My sister is super extroverted. I’ve always tried to explain to her that I was introvert but also an extrovert. She didn’t believe it because I was not like her. I need to make the choice to be an extrovert. It simply comes naturally to her. But as Jax said, I’m probably just as likely to be the life of the party as I am to being someone who ditches it early. It strongly depends on my mood whether i’ll be extroverted or introverted at any given moment. I’m just super happy there’s an in-between that other people actually identify themselves.

  4. Claudia says:

    It’s the first time I’ve ever heard about the term ambivert, and I’ve never knew such existed, even if I am one!
    I have found myself needing time to recharge after I had been outgoing, and doing things that would make me an extrovert. And not once, I have questioned this a long time, but thank you for the article! It finally gave me an answer to myself

  5. Rocky says:

    I have always referred to this as my “inner struggle.” Any time I have ever taken a introvert/extrovert test, I usually get 51% and 49% ratios depending on how the test is scored.

    Like others said, it IS cool that there is a group of people who identify themselves as an ambivert. It sounds ridiculous, but having to deal with this on a daily basis makes it very real to me! The best way I can explain it is that I always feel like “me” and I have a stable emotional level although I have the ability to experience high highs and low lows. Yet, It takes a long time for people to get to know me/understand me. It is not because I am shy but because to them I seem different each time they see me until a few times have gone by.. then people tell me “oh that’s just how you are.” I have also been called paradoxical by a few different friends who don’t even know each other; I think this ambivert part of me is what they were referring to.

    It is interesting how introverts and extroverts are opposites in a big way. The way they direct energy and take in the world are OPPOSITE of each other. It is very interesting how having two completely different ways of processing information and the world in one person manifests. It also seems that whether or not I am introverted or extroverted highly depends on my mood so it can be frustrating when I am introverted but need to be extroverted or vice versa because I think to myself “you know you can do this!” ..just only when I’m in that mode of operation.

    This was an excited rant so may not make sense!

  6. Leah says:

    Like Rocky mentioned, anytime I took an introversion/extroversion assessment I would score a roughly 50% ratio. People who know me very well like my husband or best friends know that I need my space and alone time, but other people like extended family and acquaintances often comment on my outgoing and gregarious nature.
    I always figured that I was either an introvert that learned to function well in an extroverted world or an extrovert that had learned introversion from my introverted father. One word that does apply to me is intense. I wonder if this intensity is common to other ambiverts?

  7. Audra says:

    Thank you for your writings!!bI’m just hearing this word for the first time tonight and feel so affirmed. I’m a performer and musician and after every show, you can find me in my bed, glass of red wine in hand, dogs in tow and the house totally quiet. My friends are always confused by this, but I’m done after I spend that much time “in the light.” As a composer, I relish my time alone at the piano, alone in my thoughts and work, but I enjoy sharing it and love a fun celebration. Sometimes, I avoid parties that are large and other times, I can really enjoy them. I’m learning that it is all dependent on how much energy I’ve been spending and where I’ve spending it. Learning how to reboot myself and how to go with the ebb and flow! :)

  8. Victoria says:

    I heard about this term not 5 minutes ago from my brother was shocked that it kinda resonated with me, so I decided to do a little research on it and to be honest, I almost feel like crying with relief. It’s always bothered me that, if all those tests kept telling me I was an introvert, then why do I sometimes feel like running towards the nearest nightclub and chatting with people when I’m home alone or sometimes feeling like I’d rip my hair out if I didn’t get just a little time alone when being surrounded by people? Turns out I was just a shy ambivert.

  9. Ron says:

    It is interesting to see the comments here from fellow ambiverts. As a consultant and group facilitator I also find myself in “fetal position” recouping my center afterr being in the spotlight. Other personality evals such as Meyers Briggs have a continuum. I score right down the middle, a little on one side then the other depending on the trait, but not strongly in any categories. Is this common with ambiverts? Interesting ….. So to be conscious or “mindful” in the Ellen Langer sense is to avoid the natural tendency or need to put someone in a box. Oh, so you’re an extrovert…..phew…now I understand. Or notice our own relief….phew…I am an ambivert…that explains a lot…!! Well, yes it can be helpful but a more mindful approach is to just notice, accept, adapt, enjoy and then laugh at ourselves.

  10. Sue says:

    I found out 7 years ago that i’m a fellow ambivert when my score (MeyersBriggs) was also dead centre slightly in the introvert block. To everyone shock! They expected a very far extrovert result. And I do relate to what you all have to say! It is very difficult for partners and colleagues to understand you …. worst trying to ‘read’ you …. if they are not aware of your personality type as most ‘brand’ you as extrovert for your ability to interact with all kinds in every way possible and then when it comes to the social gathering or party afterwards you quietly sneak away and run to the safety of your hotel room ……. – simply to recharge and reflect on you day. I could never understand how people can be around others constantly and then enjoy it. Now it makes perfect sense … it’s me who do not enjoy the small talk afterwards as it drives me up the walls …. although i can attend a live concert and have the greatest time of my life … I’ve learned now to give more time to the people i care about , however painful it is at times …. because i DO make sure that i also have enough time for me by telling people i’m going now to do this or that (any plausible reason).

  11. Maggie says:

    This is the first description of this term I found, but it was presented to me by Susan Cain in her Ted talk about “The power of introversion”. Like all the above, I usually end up about 49% to 51% split, favoring extroversion ever so slightly. I never knew what to think of my disposition and the descriptions above really help. I’ve always felt kind of crazy, like I can’t pin down what I like to do or how I should be. I hate parties and big social gatherings, but I’m really happy to stand up in front of a group of people and talk with very little prep. People think I’m extroverted, but usually I can’t wait to get away and hide if I’ve been with people for more than an hour. If I have a difficult problem to work on, I need hours and days of rumination about it, yet I need to tell everyone what I’m thinking. It goes on. Why do I need a category? I agree with the comments above, because other people want to know what you like and don’t like, how they can respond to you. Also, I don’t always know, sometimes I like the big loud stuff, sometimes I don’t. I never know what it’s going to be. In our extroverted obsessed world, I feel like it’s more important to be big and loud an outgoing. So I do feel forced into this in the times I don’t feel that it’s my way or appropriate. The problem is that my “introvert” is distracted all the time. I’m feeling that I have never tapped into the strengths of this aspect of my personality, because our world centers around extroversion. There is so much power in introversion and I’d like to use it more. Anyway, knowing what circumstances require recharging has been a life saver for me and that’s where the Myers-Briggs and other tests helps. When I found out I’m not a true extrovert, it helped me understand what introverts do a bit more and how to manage my energy levels.

  12. kholzwart says:

    FINALLY!!! When I read a description of extroversion…i nod in agreement (to most of it); and do the same thing when reading a description of an introvert! I would say to myself, “well, i am a little of each.”

    Who knew that I was neither and, therefore, both…..which is to say Ambi :)

    I guess it makes sense though. My personality is like that in many ways. In the Color Code, I am a Blue-Red (almost equal values of each color) with a strong tertiary Yellow. Blue-Red is the “most conflicted” and “complicated” of all the personalities. So, I guess it is just par for the course that I am Ambiverted!

  13. Michelle says:

    Reading this article and all the comments have definitely helped me out. For the longest time I was confused as to why I could relate to my extroverted and introverted friends. Like Rocky, I was always told my personality “was just who I am”. It always bothered me that I could handle a giant gathering one night but would need an entire day to myself to recoup. Also, some of my friends don’t understand this “ambiversion” either and would get upset with me. I’m happy now I can actually explain to them my personality and why I am the way I am.I just want to thank everyone for talking about it and shedding some light to ambiversion. I came across this term about half an hour ago and have been madly searching for articles on it. By far this is the best description!

  14. Victoria Eustace says:

    I agree that this is a relief to find out that there is a such thing as an ambivert. It’s fascinating to me to think about how so many factors (birth order, early experiences, genetics, etc) can influence someone’s personality. I like being an ambivert because it allows to me to enjoy interaction with others, ometimes more than other times, but also enjoy time alone. I am very outgoing and affectionate, but sometimes I feel lost in a crowd and need some time to recharge. I recharge by praying and exercising mainly.

    The interesting thing is that, no matter what mood I am in, God’s grace is sufficient for me. When I struggle with anxiety about my personal identity, He continually reminds me that no matter what personality I have, I am first and foremost a beloved child of God. This realization, when I take the time to think about it, puts me in awe! I can relax because I know I am deeply loved, protected and cared for.

    Although I have many personal shortcomings and distinctions, the most important thing about me is that I am His. He sees me as righteous because of what Christ did for me. I am a new creation in Christ. That doesn’t mean I don’t retain my ambiverted personality. In fact, my personality (and yours) enable me to understand and relate to God in special ways. It’s just that what is more important even then my personality is that I have been redeemed. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”

  15. Nikki G says:

    Wow, I just stumbled on this term and had to research it. Yay, for finally finding something that fits me! My husband always thought it was strange that one day I could be the life of the party, and then not even want to GO to the next party. Myers-Briggs shows I am usually an ENTJ, but after a particularly rough week (for example), I will score as an INTJ. Why? Because sometimes people are energizing, and sometimes they can be exhausting. I feed on the energy of the people around me. Positivity feeds positivity, and negativity breeds more negativity. Until discovering this word, and realizing there are many others like me, I always felt like quite the paradox!

  16. Kyle says:

    I relate to this article very much. Many times I feel loud and feed on social interaction, like with my mom who is an extravert and usually leaves for her job. But then the next day I can be found calm and mellow being introverted while my mom is still outgoing. It’s weird but the best way I can describe it as being “me”.

  17. Ted Ayers says:

    The problem with understanding the introvert / extrovert dichotomy is that it does not exist alone, it is part of a greater system for understanding human psychology. Gaining energy from the presence of people, and liking people, are two different things. Most everything described in this article and the comments sounds like Introverts who are surprised when they gain energy from people “sometimes”.

    What that means is you aren’t gaining energy from people, you’re gaining energy from liking those peoples’ ideas, their generosities, their jokes, the relationships you have with them, etc. Extroverts gain energy from being around people, no matter who they are, how much they like them, how much they relate to them, how much they know them, etc. Extroverts gain energy from being seen, being observed, being noticed. When an introvert gains energy from a person, it isn’t because they are being seen by that person, in fact they are being drained of energy because of this, being seen drains an introverts energy. But the introvert, while losing energy from being seen, can also be gaining a greater amount of energy from that interaction, i.e. a net positive amount of energy, because they are satisfying their sensing needs through managing their conversations among several people, because they are satisfying their intuitive needs by hearing and interpreting new ideas, because they are satisfying their thinking needs by making logical conclusions and arguments, or because they are satisfying their feeling needs by empathizing with the emotions of those around them.

    The real takeaway is that extroverts gain energy from interactions with people, even when those interactions are negative or neutral. Introverts gain energy from time spent alone, even if that time is negative or neutrally spent (not relaxing, uncomfortable, stressful, etc). An extrovert can still gain energy from being alone and reading a book, if the book is engaging. An introvert can still gain energy from working in a group, if they can build meaningful relationships in that group and gain valuable ideas. An introvert can still gain energy from a party, if they can have fun or enjoy a new experience or meet a fascinating person.

    Any ‘assessment’ is just a snapshot of a personality. The point of any assessment isn’t to define anyone, but to help them better understand themselves. If an assessment doesn’t do this, but makes you feel confused or uncertain, than the assessment has failed. But that doesn’t mean the underlying theories behind it aren’t worth studying.

  18. Lee says:

    This is so helpful! I’ve identified with introvertism for much of my life, but I can’t seem to reconcile my love and excitement over doing Improv, leading parties, being seen as the life of the party, and going to loud/crowded events (at times) – and feeling energized by them, but also feeling wiped out, needing alone time afterwards. Like other commenters, this has been a weird internal struggle for me! Knowing about ambiverts is affirming and a helpful “handle” to hang some seemingly incongruous tendencies of mine. Thanks!

  19. Amaka says:

    I’ve always thought i was an introvert but sometimes it seems like i act like an extrovert.one time i wud talkative,outgoing and fun,d next moment i wud b quiet n dull,after some research i discovered im an ambivert.But somo pple find it difficult 2 undstand me.pls is der any tips on how 2 recharge?its really affecting my r/ship.

  20. Shauna says:

    I stumbled across this term a few minutes ago and decided to look it up and found your site. Yeah… I finally found something that described what I’ve been trying to explain to people for a long time. Most personality assessments I take either split me close down the middle or leave me with two categories that I have almost equal affinity for, depending on the type.

  21. Victoria says:

    My husband and I have bumped heads (based on personality) for years and we just recently discovered it is because he is an introvert (more on the extreme side) and I am an…ummm well…somewhere in between. What I mean is, I have always done well adjusting to his needs or going into his “introverted world” of solitude. I actually enjoy it there. However, there comes a time when I MUST break free and do/go somewhere and be around a lot of people in order to fulfill another type of need. We used get into a silly arguments right before an outing – say to my office holiday party. I’d be so excited to introduce him to my colleagues and he’d be dreading it deep down. So after an argument, and he’d end up not going (too drained from the argument and idea of meeting strange people), and I’d go anyway alone, MAD but very happy to be getting out so I could regain my energy with other people. Needless to say, this was not good for our marriage or sense of unity. It left us both feeling like we were severely mis-matched.

    Looking back, I can see clearly why our behaviors manifested the way it did. Now that I better understand introvert/extrovert tendencies, I can define myself as AMBIVERT instead of “duplicidous” as I’ve been called before. My actions or needs depend on my moods. And there’s little pattern. I love spending quiet time, walking alone thinking about my life or reading a pleasure book. And I also sometimes love hanging out in crowded places with excitement all around me. I am comfortable in both settings and feel energy from both experiences. Sometimes my husband would feel betrayed by my changing of preferences so abruptly. He’s perfectly happy reading or computing all by himself for days on end. I can only hang with him for a while; we’ll watch documentaries together, discuss world events, etc…the slow pace makes me I feel loved, closer to him and low pressure to move fast. However, after a while I may begin to feel stifled, like I can’t breathe and yearn for a change. So I’ll quickly make plans to get out and change my environment, and I can go, go, go and go some more. Now that I’m a little older, I don’t stay out very late but I used to try. My point is, I score right in the middle of the chart between the innies and outies and now it makes sense! I believe I was an outie and a child but was raised by two innie parents. Therefore, I’ve developed the traits and skill sets of both. I LOVE to do public speaking and mingling afterwards, but I also hate to call people back after I’ve missed their call. LOL…I really like meeting new people but sometimes won’t leave my couch if a good movie is on and my wine glass is full. Good to know who I am and very thankful to have the best of BOTH WORLDS.

    My husband and I are doing 100% better now that we understand one another better and know that no maliciousness on either part is intended. God bless all innie/outie marriages to make it though!

  22. Jane E says:

    At first I thought I was an extrovert, because I talks a lot once you get to know me and enjoy external stimuli too. Then, I found out I’m bad at socializing with people I don’t know, I’m not shy, just that I don’t trust people I don’t know that much. I tend to leave personal space at first but once you get to know me I’m more trusting. Less people take time to know me ended up I’m a lone wolf. I’m not a nerd or total introvert that readand study most of the time, ended up I’m somewhere in the middle and struggle most of the time at school with socializing. I hate to gossip or lie or being insensitive like the extreme extrovert in school, they bullies me. I am not like introvert who don’t open up to everyone and always hang with the same people, they avoid me. I’m always the one who’s in the middle because extroverts find me different or reserve and introverts find me weird. So I think I am just right in the middle–ambivert. To me, there’s no such thing as extrovert and introvert before I learn the fact, I just treat human as human being, until I know the hard truth and reality. I find it hard to pretty understand the extremes but I won’t judge like extroverts do and avoid like introverts do. I think human should not be classified and put into classification because in the end we are still human.

  23. Ruth says:

    I used to say I was a “flaming Introvert” … now I know that I’m actually an ambivert. Very cool. Cuz I did wax eloquently between introvert and extrovert and was confused how I could be both. Glad to see there is a name for it instead of flaming introvert. LOL

  24. Florence says:

    Wow! There’s a name for this?! Great!
    A few years ago, my introvert daughter took an online personality test, that confirmed her self-description. She sat next to me while I took the same test. At the end, I had to laugh, when it said “You are a puzzle even unto yourself!” How true!! I recognized that assessment of me. Though, I had attributed some of my “puzzlement” to the fact that I’m left-handed in a right-handed world, but do some things with my right hand. Whenever facing a new physical activity, I have to first think about how to approach it – right-handed, left-handed or a combination of both. This, plus being a happy, out-going introvert/extrovert who likes quiet, makes life anything but dull.
    Earlier I took a similar test at a career counseling site, and the test administrator was amazed that I had scored right in the middle!! I explained to her, that I’m happy with people or without, but if I’m with people too much, I get frazzled, and if I’m alone too much, I get lonely.

  25. Charles says:

    i just read this term for the first time in “Quiet” by Susan Cain.

    Ted I agree that personality tests and scales etc are all just part of the picture. But I feel, from your dismissal of what the self-identified ambiverts have to say about who they are, that you are not an ambivert yourself. “You don’t gain energy from people, you gain it from liking those people’s ideas etc” . Really? And you know this how? I have no idea, this may describe you perfectly but it doesn’t describe me at all. I am often incredibly introverted but when I am in party mode I’m the life of the party and riding the buzz. And this might not not be very flattering to admit but truthfullly when I am in that space I couldn’t care less about the people’s ideas and so on. I’m just in the moment and grooving on it all and enjoying the spotlight. I do feel connected to the people around me but it has nothing to do with relating to then on any deeper level (frex the way I do when I’m introverted and really digging into a deep one-on-one discussion).

  26. Thank you for this article. It helped shed light on my tendencies and quirks that I was having difficulty understanding. Yes I am an ambivert. I couldn’t understand my ability to create alternate scenarios in my head and spending so much time alone while being able to effectively and comfortably be around others. I was having trouble pinpointing my introvert and extrovert abilities… how they classify me. This helps. Thank you much for taking the time to shed light on this.

    On another note… can I reblog this article to my site? I know that others in the business field can benefit from this information.

  27. I thought it was always rather obvious that the degree of extraversion (and other personality traits) followed a bell-curve. Humans aren’t 2-dimensional creatures who can be so easily pigeon-holed.

  28. Emily says:

    Hooray! This explains so much about me. I have never fit into either the introvert or extravert category. I find doing a lot of socialising exhausting, but I also feel flat if I spend a lot of time alone. And although I don’t relish large groups of people I have no problem talking to strangers. I switch between introversion and extraversion on Myers-Briggs tests. I am glad of this acknowledgement that people’s personalities are diverse

  29. M says:

    Nice to finally have a test tell me I’m an ambivert. Thanks for the link.

    Like many ambiverts, I’m also borderline on all of the 4 spectra of the Meyers-Briggs. On the big 5, I’m high on all 5 factors. It’s great to be high on 4 of them, but not so much on neurosis.

    Instead of flipping between extrovert and introvert like many ambiverts claim to be, I find that on some of the introvert-extrovert spectrum criteria I’m very much an introvert, and on the rest I’m an extrovert. In the simplest terms, I’m introspectively outgoing.

    I need to be alone to get anything done, but I hate days where I have no one to talk to. I’m very talkative, open, and friendly with people I come into contact with, but I do avoid many intense social interactions. I value friendships and relationships highly, but I fail to keep in touch with people due to my own insecurities and fear of rejection.

    My life is somewhat paradoxical, but sensibly so. I seem to both adore and despise other people, and to be charming and awkward at the same time. Anyone else similar to me in these respects?

Trackbacks

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