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
Book: Don’t Waste Your Talent by Don Hutcheson